Digital Giving Trends Report: 3 Takeaways from the Latest Research

Here at Pushpay, we have more than just a passing interest in the financial health of local churches. We’ve literally built our company around that very thing!

We are on a mission to increase generosity and participation in the churches we serve, and we believe that mobile tools (such as worship planning and online giving) are one of the biggest investments a church can make to ensure the long-term growth of its ministry.

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For these reasons and more, we’re always thrilled to come across new reporting showing that digital giving continues to outpace overall charitable giving. Or that the addition of digital giving options is strongly tied with a spike in overall giving to a church.

After all, we tell churches every day that provide fast, easy, and—most of all—mobile giving experiences will increase their giving, improve their budgets, and grow their ministries. There’d be no sense in having these conversations if they weren’t backed by data and demonstrated in everyday experience. But they are! 

And when it comes to data, we’re beginning to see quite a lot of it. One of the advantages of serving over 7,000 churches is that we no longer need to rely on what other people are telling us about the impact of digital giving on givers and congregations. We can take a look for ourselves.

And so we did.

Last fall we did a survey of our churches to gauge the impact digital giving is having on their congregations and on the behaviors of their individual givers. Better still, since the Pushpay platform now offers church admins the ability to scan checks and record cash donations, we can compare the changes in digital giving with trends in “offline” giving (i.e., cash and check) as well.

This survey yielded some compelling insights, but we wanted more. We wanted to see what impact digital giving tools are having in the broader church world. We wanted to see numbers from churches who aren’t using Pushpay. So we partnered with the giving consultants and researchers at Dunham+Company to see how our research compared to some recent research they had commissioned.

The result of this partnership is the Digital Giving Trends in the Church report that is yours to download for free.

The report confirms much of the previous data that has been reported around the growth of online and mobile giving in churches, but it also provides new information about the behaviors of individual donors as they interact with different giving channels.

Here are three key takeaways from this new report.

1. Digital Giving Continues to Grow in Popularity

Nearly three out of every four American churches now offer some form of digital giving (74 percent). While we’d love to see this at 100 percent, it’s still a significant improvement over the 42 percent who reported having online giving just two years ago. (And we’ve come a long way from the 14 percent who offered digital giving in 2011.) Even more encouraging is the significant growth seen with the smallest churches in the country. Churches with fewer than 200 people in weekend attendance saw their adoption of online giving nearly double in the past two years from 29 percent to 59 percent.

2. Digital Givers Give More (and More Often)

On average, digital givers donate 33 percent more ($200 a month through digital means vs. $150 a month from non-digital means). They also donate 44 percent more often than non-digital givers (2.3 times a month vs. 1.6 times a month). Of course, this isn’t because digital givers are inherently more generous than cash and check givers. It could be due to a whole host of reasons, but we can’t overlook the fact that generosity is often a product of opportunity.

Digital givers simply have more opportunities to give. They can give no matter where they are—and regardless of whether they make it into worship services on a given week.

3. There’s Still a LOT of Room to Grow

While many churches have some form of online giving, the numbers still show a gap between how people are giving to their churches and how they give to other nonprofits—and it shows. According to research by Dunham+Company, overall giving to charitable causes grew by 5.2% in 2018. Yet, giving to religious organizations is dropping. Religious contributions comprise 31% of charitable giving in America, down from 58% in the 1980s. 

Years ago, a lot of that gap had to do with method—newer, more agile nonprofits had the opportunity to implement better giving methods sooner than a lot of similar churches did. But today, with both charitable giving at an all-time high and the number of churches using digital giving at an all-time high, it’s clear that there is a gap between the growth in giving to churches and nonprofits.

There’s still a lot of room to grow but your church needs to be fully informed before making any adjustments to accommodate recent giving trends. Get the comprehensive report today. Download the 2019 Digital Giving Trends in The Church for free here.

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