Churches Turn to Digital Solutions as Giving Decreases Nationwide

Collection plate
Giving has decreased in many churches nationwide in 2016. (YouTube)

The State of the Plate surveyed nearly 1,600 pastors, leaders and laypeople to assess the current state of giving to churches in America. This year's constituency-based survey was a collaborative research project by Brian Kluth's MAXIMUM Generosity ministry and leading church technology providers, Tithe.ly, Elvanto, ChurchOS, Apollo Apps and ChurchMag. 

The survey asked pastors, leaders and laypeople from churches of all sizes and types across the United States to report on their church giving patterns and practices.

The findings from the 2016 survey reveal a dramatic shift in giving over the past three years compared to the last time the survey was conducted in 2013. Giving has flatlined or decreased for the majority of those surveyed, which has many churches scrambling to implement more modern giving solutions.

Key findings from the 2016 State of the Plate survey:

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 1. Fifty-nine percent of churches surveyed reported flatlined or decreased giving over the period 2015 to 2016 (A previous survey from 2013 revealed 53 percent of churches had an increase in giving that year).

2. Only 41 percent of churches surveyed saw giving increase by 5 percent or more.

3. Seventy-nine percent of churches surveyed offer website giving (up from 29 percent in 2010), 46 percent offer cell phone/text/app giving (up from 4 percent in 2010) and 32 percent have a kiosk/iPad in the lobby for in-person digital giving.

4. Generous church giving is not limited to the older generations. Sixty-three percent of those in their 20s and 30s give 10 percent or more to their church.

5. Only 41 percent of those surveyed said they give weekly, while 46 percent give once or twice a month.

6. The top five reasons for missing church services are: out of town (74 percent), sickness (42 percent), serving during the worship service (16 percent), social commitments (13 percent) and had to work (14 percent).

With more and more people shopping and paying bills online or through apps and auto-pay services, hardly anyone carries physical checks or cash anymore. Yet the No. 1 way churches collect donations is by passing a bucket or plate during worship services.

"The 2016 State of the Plate report highlights the importance for churches to continue teaching generosity as a biblical value and to provide as many ways as possible to help their people be faithful and generous givers to the Lord's work," said Brian Kluth, bestselling generosity author, speaker, and founder of the State of the Plate research. 

Our research indicates the need for digital giving solutions like those provided by Tithe.ly, are becoming increasingly important for churches, especially as younger generations are giving more and more.

For a copy of the 19-page report with ten key findings, seven graphs and recommended resources to increase church giving, visit tithe.ly/SOP2016.

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