As church leaders, we like our numbers, don’t we? One of the first questions we ask one another is, “How many people attend your church?” We love learning how many people came to our Christmas and Easter gatherings. We get excited when a long-planned community event is well-attended. We know it’s not all about numbers, but we also know those numbers represent something meaningful: individual lives impacted by Jesus Christ.
While we’re happy to talk about attendance numbers, we’re not always as interested in talking about financial data—until there’s a specific reason to do so. We typically do a quick review of income and expenses at a board meeting, but beyond that we tend to talk about our church finances the most when our giving is down, when we may not meet our budget, or when we need to inspire significant generosity for a specific project.
Here’s the truth: The best time to talk about the financial health of the church is while the church is financially healthy. The only way we can make fruitful, Christ-honoring decisions with the money entrusted to us is to watch the numbers consistently and strategically.
Giving Metrics That Matter
Tracking the right giving data does two things:
- sounds an early warning bell if financial support to your ministry is declining
- provides you with robust information to help you make sound decisions
Notice the emphasis on the word right. Most churches can churn out thick financial reports with impressive charts and graphs. But do those reports contain information that’s actually useful, or is it just noise? Do they go far beyond the basic totals of income, expense, and cash flow? And does anyone know how to act on the information they learn?
It may be helpful to think about your financial data less like an accountant and more like a journalist. In other words, ask some questions about your data and see what story it’s telling:
- How many first-time givers did we have in the last 12 months? (And what should we do in response?)
- How many of those first-time givers made a second gift?
- What’s the average annual giving per household?
- Is that average increasing, decreasing, or staying about the same?
- How many families were giving regularly but are no longer doing so? (And what should we do in response?)
- What giving bands are significant for our church? (A giving band is a range of gift, e.g., less than $1000, $1000-$2499, $2500-$5000, and so on.)
- What do our giving bands look like year over year?
- Was there a significant event in the life of the church or community that influenced giving in some way?
I see it in three ways:
- What does the data show?
- What does the data mean?
- What should we be doing in response to what we see in the data?
How to Get Your Numbers
Of course, even if you’re approaching your financial information like a journalist, obtaining and analyzing clean, meaningful data can be a bit daunting. Many church management systems (ChMS) offer export functions, but the process can still be a bit overwhelming.
I can help.
Generis recently launched a new analysis platform we call Church Analytics. It is designed to help churches understand their giving environment and capacity through objective measurement. Your giving data provides rare and deep insight into your church culture. These advanced reports allow you to discover trends, identify opportunity, and accelerate generosity to fund vision. The analysis will help you better understand the true giving capacity at your church, while enabling you to help you set realistic goals based on objective analysis.
I can help for free.
Through the Church Analytics platform, I’m pleased to be able to offer a giving analysis to your church free of charge. I’ll prepare a customized analysis within a week of receiving your data. Then, we’ll do a one-hour video call during which I’ll give you some key insights and suggestions for how to grow the culture of generosity at your church.
That’s it. Simple.
To get started, complete this quick form, and I’ll send you an email with next steps.