How to Avoid Donor Fatigue & Increase Stewardship

2016 giving is now in the books! Whether you had a banner year, met budget, or came up short, there are essential assessments that will help you understand and improve your giving in 2017 and beyond. To help you assess your current financial situation and increase the stewardship opportunities at your church, we recently interviewed David Thoroughman, CEO/Founder of MortarStone. David is a stewardship expert and helps churches, nationwide analyze their financial data to formulate more efficient giving programs. Check out this blog with his suggestions for How to Avoid Donor Fatigue and Increase Stewardship. Listen to the entire interview here.

First and foremost, let’s define what donor fatigue actually is and what the visible symptoms are…

Donor fatigue describes givers whose giving is flat or decreasing, even though they are still engaged, attending, volunteering and/or leading. The symptoms of fatigue include:

  • Stagnate giving growth
  • Attendance growth is out-pacing giving growth
  • If you are having to make an appeal from the pulpit that giving is short
  • If while running a capital campaign you ask the same givers and they are not receptive or engaged
  • Frequency of giving is declining
  • Reduced giving

1. To avoid donor fatigue identify and assess these 3 groups of givers.

a.  New Givers:  these are the attendees that have no prior giving to the general fund and typically account for 10% of total funding.

b.  Giving Units:  these are attendees that give $200+ annually to the general fund and typically account for 98% of total dollars in funding. On average this group makes up approximately 65% of the total number of givers in your church.

c.  Financial Leaders:  these are attendees that give in excess of $10,000 annually to the general fund and they typically account for 40-50% of total dollars in funding.  This group makes up approximately 6% of the total number of giving units in your church.

2.  The second step in avoiding donor fatigue is identifying key metrics within these groups and then applying strategies to increase their stewardship.

a.  Acquisition Rate (% change):  if your giving has increased by 10% you should expect to see an increase in the number of new givers, giving units and/or financial leaders.  Use these strategies to make sure that your acquisition rate is balanced:

  • Make sure your vision has been clearly articulated to your givers
  • Begin a stewardship program by providing stewardship education through print, email, and the pulpit

b.  Retention:  this measurement helps you to understand the effectiveness of the strategies you’ve implemented.  Do your givers feel like they belong?  Do they have relationships within your church? Are their needs being met? Are they growing spiritually? Use these strategies to increase the retention of your givers:

  • Obtain key demographic information including age, marital status, education, wealth marker, etc. to better determine what ministry programs can be specifically tailored and targeted to meet the needs of your congregation.
  • MortarStone can run a Data Enrichment Report (DER) on your current church data to reveal these key demographic markers. Contact them here for more information on this report.

c.  Giving vs. Investing: Stewardship is often thought of as the giving of your time, talents, and treasures.  Allow your givers to INVEST in the Kingdom using a Pooled Income Fund (PIF), which is a charitable vehicle established by the IRS with benefits for both the donor and your church.  It is most commonly used within a planned giving strategy involving 55+-year-olds and has economic benefits for the church and the giver.  Consider these strategies to help your givers consider the Pooled Income Fund option:

  • Have your current database assessed by MortarStone
  • Use this expanded data to identify givers who could benefit from a PIF investment strategy
  • Arrange for a consultation with a charitable planning professional (tax attorney or equivalent)
  • Incorporate the PIF strategy into your current stewardship program

3. The final step in avoiding donor fatigue is to start using these methods of evaluation and assessment to improve your stewardship ministry today. You can contact MortarStone for more information on data assessment and strategies that will help you increase the stewardship opportunities within your church.

Check out the full interview here: How To Avoid Donor Fatigue and Increase Stewardship

Get more tools, resources, and tips – follow us on Twitter or Facebook. Don’t forget to join us next May 16-17 for Sticky Teams 2.0 East at LCBC Church in Lancaster, PA. 

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