Beat the 80/20 Rule and Level Up Giving at Your Church

Beat the 80/20 Rule and Level Up Giving at Your Church

Also widely known as the 80/20 rule, the Pareto Principle suggests that about 80 percent of an outcome is determined by about 20 percent of the factors. And it has proven true in studies of the world’s distribution of wealth, the benefits of optimization in computing, the effects of exercise and training in sports, and numerous other applications. 

Unfortunately, it appears to be true for most churches, too. In 2013, Christianity Today reported that only 10–25 percent of families in a church tithe, and they often provide 50–80 percent of a church’s total funds.

In any given church, a small number of families likely account for the vast majority of giving. That means if a handful of the wrong families leave, it could financially cripple your ministry. It also means that when it comes to giving, most people in your church aren’t even participating. They’re passively observing, and enjoying the benefits of others’ generosity.

But churches don’t have to accept this discouraging reality and focus on the 20 percent. You want your whole church to grow into spiritually mature Christians, and that includes developing a biblical perspective on generosity and giving

You need a plan to nurture your church members from where they’re at to where you want them to be.

Here’s how your church can beat the 80/20 rule and get more people giving.

Inspire generosity

The early Christian Church didn’t stop at the 10 percent tithe of the old covenant. They recognized that everything they had belonged to God, and so they shared everything.

“All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.” —Acts 4:32

In fact, they went above and beyond to care for others:

“They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.” —Acts 2:45

Before you can expect everyone in your church to get on board with giving, you need to lay the foundation with what the Bible says about generosity. Our “hard-earned” resources don’t actually belong to us. God has asked us to use and invest them on His behalf, for His purposes. Unfortunately, many of us wind up consuming God’s resources instead of investing in God’s kingdom. 

If you want more people to give, get them to value generosity. And if you want to direct that generosity at your church, then you need to show how the things God has called your church to do are fueled by your congregation’s generosity.

Connect giving to your mission

If your congregation doesn’t see what your church is accomplishing or doesn’t understand how they contribute toward those accomplishments, investing in your church won’t seem very important to them. That’s why it’s vital for churches to regularly share the stories and statistics that highlight the impact of your church’s giving. Help your church members see how giving to your church connects them to the story of what God is doing through your ministries.

It also helps to set up specific funds for your major ministries and projects, so your congregation can choose to apply their resources toward the goals and objectives God has placed on their hearts. With Pushpay, setting up new funds is simple, and your congregation can easily decide exactly how they want to contribute to your mission.

Emphasize the value of every gift

Part of the problem the 80/20 rule presents is that many people don’t give at all. But there are also people in your congregation who only give occasionally. They may only give when:

  • They spend less money than usual
  • They make more money than usual
  • They feel inspired to give to a specific purpose

Whatever their reasons for sporadic giving, you want to honor what these church members are already contributing to your church while encouraging them to give more often.

One of the ways you can do this is with Pushpay’s in-app impact cards. This new feature lets you display dynamic content in your app based on what funds someone has contributed to. Specifically, impact cards help you showcase the major accomplishments of a ministry or progress toward a goal, so donors can see the impact of their giving.

This reaffirms that their past generosity was a good decision while also encouraging people to continue giving.

Additionally, Pushpay lets your church members make pledges. They can set a target amount they would like to give within a specified period, then see their progress toward their pledge in your app.

Encourage recurring giving

Recurring giving is the best way for people to give. It’s the most convenient method for your church members because they commit once and then they continue giving automatically. And it’s best for your ministry because nobody will ever forget to give, and it still happens if they’re out of town (which is extremely helpful during the summer slump). That’s one of the reasons recurring givers give 42 percent more annually than people who give one-time gifts.

If you want your congregation to share the load financially, then you need to encourage more of them to become recurring givers.

Stop relying on the 20 percent

When a small fraction of your church is doing the majority of the giving, it’s a risky position to be in. It’s also not very healthy. Sure, some people are simply capable of giving more than others. But that’s not what’s happening here. The 80/20 rule applies to churches today because the majority of church members are merely attending church instead of participating in it.

As you nurture each person on their member journey and teach your congregation to value generosity and see their resources the way God does, gradually, they’ll start to share the load.

Curious about how your church can encourage healthy, steady giving from the 80%?

Discover how you can implement simple strategies to help your community members understand the importance of giving and donate more frequently. Download the free ebook, Teaching Your Church To Give, today.

Ryan Nelson

Ryan was a volunteer youth leader with Young Life for eight years. Now he teaches people about the Bible on OverviewBible.com. He lives in Bellingham, Washington with his wife and three sons.