By Gina Calvert

How to Keep Donors Engaged

In today’s busy world and even busier online landscape, it’s not easy to know how to keep donors engaged. There has never been more competition for your givers’ attention and more easy-to-find, worthy recipients for their generosity.

But it’s worth the effort. Organizations that keep donors engaged tap into a wealth of charitable giving. In fact, charitable giving rose 5.1% to a record $471.44 billion in 2020. Why? “Individual Americans, corporations, and foundations made contributions in response to Covid-19 pandemic and racial justice efforts.” (Source)

And while only 5% of churchgoers tithe (Source), churches and religious organizations still top the list for charitable giving. Religious giving garnered 28% of charitable gifts in 2020. (Source)

So, clearly, generosity is alive and well … if you can keep donors engaged.

Keep Donors Engaged Online

A key aspect of donor engagement in today’s world is meeting them where they are … which is online.

For churches, that means, first and foremost, offering an engaging website or mobile app that includes online giving.

But many people won’t automatically find your online giving page and ministry offerings. You must frequently mention and link to them from a variety of channels:

  • Pulpit announcements
  • Social media
  • Live-streamed services
  • Email signatures

Keep Donors Physically and Socially Engaged

We know that physical involvement in church impacts giving amounts for most people. Several years ago, Lifeway research indicated a strong connection between church attendance and tithing/giving:
Once a week attendance:

  • 57% say they give at least a tithe
  • 14% give inconsistently
  • 7% say finances make it hard to give

1-2 times a month attendance:

  • 28% tithe
  • 35% give inconsistently
  • 13% say finances make it hard to give

So you can see that financial engagement is not the first place to focus to keep donors engaged. For most givers, “investment” usually starts with spiritual, physical and emotional engagement.

7 Ways to Encourage Greater Engagement

  • First, make sure your website and facilities extend a warm welcome.

    Review this checklist of areas that welcome visitors … or DON’T.

  • Next, welcome first-time guests from the pulpit … and beyond.

    Many churches think they’re friendly … and they are … to the people they know. Encourage your members to act like hosts not guests. Train up (or appoint) connectors in your church. “There’s someone I’d like you to meet” can be a powerful way to spark a friendship and greater integration into the church. Equip members to connect others to resources they may need or invite them to lunch or to an upcoming event.

  • Offer ministry resources.

    Remember that poor attendance may indicate severe financial or other needs. While it’s important to tread lightly, make sure people are aware of ministry resources you may offer. These could include help with groceries, handyman resources, abuse services, single pregnancies, childcare during services and events.

  • Extend personal invitations.

    It’s no secret that a personal invitation is one of the most powerful motivators for a first-time guest. In the same way, being asked by a ministry leader (face to face, if possible) to have coffee or to join a discipleship quad with other people in their demographic (i.e. new moms, divorced dads, etc.) may help establish important connections.

  • Serve together.

    As a means of connecting people to one another, encourage internal outreach, such as asking volunteers to invite someone they don’t know well to join them in attending an event together or volunteering with them in a one-time event (i.e. check-in at VBS).

  • Launch a Generosity Rockstar Program.

    Some of our Vision2 clients have learned to grow financial generosity with this simple program. The program motivates givers to take the first step in giving with small but regular online gifts, even if it’s just $1/week. Givers learn to trust God with their finance, experiencing the blessings of a life of generosity, and eventually become a tither.

  • Involve major givers in ministry decisions.

    It can be tempting to avoid “poking a sleeping bear” by taking a hands-off approach with your top givers. But generally, this group needs to feel needed and appreciated, and often wants to be involved early on in new projects. They want and deserve to know the tangible ROI of their gifts. They might appreciate being involved in a volunteer role, championing the project to others, and sharing a public testimonial.

The Vision2 Difference

Vision2 giving system takes a Ministry-First Approach to Generosity which means knowing your givers and engaging with them in personal ways. Learn 26 Tactics for Using Giving Data to Better Serve Your Members.

Additional Resources:

  • What the CARES ACT Means for Charitable Giving in 2021 (Source)
  • Making a digital shift to accept contributions of cryptocurrency (Source)