By Gina Calvert

How Do Churches Keep Track of Donations?

Some churches may still keep track of donations through manual systems, such as spreadsheets. However, due to the inefficiency of these manual processes and the potential for error or fraud, most churches now use a giving software to accept online gifts.

The software captures the donor information and creates a record of it. Some solutions, such as Vision2, can also automate the processing of any offline gifts (checks, case, money orders) and even keep track of in-kind gifts, like cars, stock, jewelry, etc. That means all donors and donations are included in a database for later retrieval.

Keep Track of Donation Basics

At a minimum, you’ll need to track donor names, contact information, gift amounts and dates. You can also track what each donation is used for. This basic information is needed for givers’ tax records or year-end statements. But there’s much more you can do with donation data.

Other Donation Details to Track

Giving Source

Some churches like to understand everything they can about their donors’ giving behavior and where the gifts originated from. This includes:

  • Telephone
  • Mail
  • In-person
  • Offering plate/collection box
  • Email
  • Various church website pages (home page, tithing page, beyond the tithe page, specific ministry pages, etc.)
  • Various links on social media
  • SMS/Text-to-give
  • Streaming service page
  • App
  • Multiple (a combination of these, such as a link on social media or an email that directed the giver to text giving)
  • Multi-Designation (which ministry funds were selected in each gift transaction)
  • Stock brokerage transfer

Vision2 can also easily track these “channels” of giving. This information helps you put giving opportunities where your givers are. You can improve poorly performing channels or more widely promote the ones that people seem to use more often. You might also learn where something is creating a barrier. For example if you see that people are coming to your website’s giving page to give a gift, but fail to leave one, you would want to find out why. What is happening that makes them change their mind? (Hint, it might be your choice of giving software).

Giver’s Donation Frequency

Frequency is perhaps the strongest indicator of your givers’ commitment to God and to your church. We find that givers fall into several predictable categories of giving frequency, including:

  • Non giver
  • New giver
  • Inconsistent giver
  • Consistent giver
  • Lapsed giver
  • Loyal giver
  • Legacy giver

Giving software that can track giving over time should be able to segment your givers by frequency and allow you to customize your gift acknowledgements to match. Learn more about how to nurture givers by knowing their giving frequency.

Giving Trends for Budgeting and Planning

Many churches have little visibility into the true state of their giving. Your giving data has the power to reveal what’s really going on and where it’s heading. For example, if a high percentage of your giving comes from a small percentage of older folks, this could leave you in a serious bind as they grow even older, or if one or more decided to leave.

What about your percentage of lapsed givers? If the rate of consistent givers who are lapsing is on the rise, it’s important to explore what’s going on in the congregation. Or how can you grow your recurring giving rate? That segment of giving enables you to stabilize your budget, forecast and plan.

Your intuition or guesswork will never be a match for actual data. Most churches are quite surprised when they begin to track not only donations, but to see overall giving trends in their church.

Ministry Insights

Keeping track of donations has an even more important use than all the benefits we’ve discussed here. By far the most valuable reason to access your giving data is being able to better minister to your congregation. Sudden lapsed giving, for example, can be a warning sign that a family is in crisis and needs ministry attention.

How Vision2 Helps Track Donations

Vision2 provides enterprise level analytics and reporting for unparalleled insights into your congregation’s financial health.

We also provide a simple yet robust giving portal to help donors manage their own donation preferences and history.

AND our comprehensive, IRS-compliant giving statements can be mailed or texted, tracked for opens, printed and mailed, or downloaded by givers in the portal.

Ready to see how easy Vision2 makes it to track donations (and so much more)? Reach out with your questions.