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What Churches Can Learn About Gift Impact from Charity: Water

What Churches Can Learn About Gift Impact from Charity: Water

There’s a lot of talk these days about down-trending “giving.” However, recent studies show that charitable giving is actually up.

Turns out, it’s not that people are giving less. It’s that they’re giving less to the church. Recent studies show that churches and religious organizations receive (for the first time) just 50% of all charitable donation. (Source: Giving USA 2022 Report)

What if your church could tap into the 50% going elsewhere?

Do Try This at Home

Our CTO Carl Tierney randomly polled people under 30 on the street, asking which they would prefer to give to:

  • A well-established brand like the Red Cross, fundraising for hurricane victims
  • A family affected by the hurricane requesting help through GoFundMe.

100% said “the family.”

Why? Because they would know the impact of their donation. They would know where their money was going and how exactly it was helping.

Similarly, you can ask any age giver at your church which they would prefer to give to: Your General Fund/Tithes or “Changing lives in our community”. Most would likely say “Changing lives” because it aligns with what a church’s mission should be and they don’t know what the General Fund includes. (They might want to know more details about HOW you’re changing lives, though.)

The great news is, your General Fund does cover changing lives – it’s just not worded that way. That’s why it’s important for you to Demonstrate the “Ministry” in Your General Fund.

Today’s Giving Motivations: From Obligation to Impact

Older generations gave to the church out of a sense of obligation. Generally, they trusted organizations with their money. Younger generations … not so much. Many feel untied to (at best) and, at worst, suspicious of or antagonistic towards organizations and traditions.

This is why churches are in competition with nonprofits for donor dollars. The most successful nonprofits have learned (and it shows in their marketing) that today’s givers are motivated by gift impact, not obligation. We know that comparing nonprofits to churches is a little bit of apples-to-oranges, but there are some important takeaways that must be adapted for church.

Let’s take a look at the gold standard among nonprofits when it comes to successful impact demonstration on their various webpages: charity: water.


We understand that charity: water has one mission, not dozens. They also have a unique fundraising model that privately funds operations so that all public donations can go to the mission. Churches probably can’t do that. But look at the different ways they effectively promote their impact.

Extra points to charity: water’s giving page for…

  1. Including in their “impact” strategy a customer’s testimony about her sense of belonging to a community pulling together in the same direction
  2. Demonstrating the additional impact of recurring gifts in multiple ways
  3. Posting the incredibly moving video story behind charity: water that will make you cry, want to donate and…hopefully…learn about what powerfully connects givers to your efforts to change the world.

These strategies can help churches better connect their communities to the greatest story ever told. Because once you learn this secret for your giving page and website, it will overflow into all your communications and interactions. It will be infectious!

And that leads to how we’re trying to change those troubling church giving stats…

Vision2’s Extraordinary Gift Impact Tool

Our media-rich giving experience offers something no other church giving platform can touch: IMPACT. Tapping into givers’ visual nature and online expectations, we’ve created an easy way for churches to showcase ministries and inspire givers…

…to the tune of an average 18.4% digital gift lift (non-recurring gifts) in the first 6 months.

The easiest way to see this Vision2 feature is to view some of our clients’ giving pages. (Once there, scroll down or click on “Beyond the Tithe”)

Like what you see? Next steps: (1) Try the informal polls we suggested above. (2) Start praying for ways to demonstrate your church’s impact in THIS culture and economic climate.

Then (3) reach out with your questions about Vision2.

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