It happens to me every year around this time – I get that far-away stare as I try to process, understand, and then plan the budget based on an overload of data. I’ve been doing this for so many years that my co-workers are no longer alarmed; it’s like an early warning detection for them that budget season is upon us. But it hasn’t always been this way. I began my stint in full-time ministry in 2006, and our church didn’t have a formal process, and we didn’t have much data to analyze. The process was loose, and the projections needed to be more accurate – much more accurate. Thankfully, today most churches use sophisticated ChMS (Church Management Systems) that can provide insights into donations that allow churches to project the budget better and identify areas to improve when it comes to giving. As your church begins the annual budget process, use these reports and gain deeper insight when creating the budget projection.
Keep ego and pride out of the mix when it comes to tracking attendance. The goal is to determine if the church is growing and at what rate, not to make the Lead/Senior Pastor feel prideful (or insecure) after a church service. To gather adult attendance, churches that do not have a camera to capture the attendance need to find a trusted volunteer to count the people in the service. Getting the children’s attendance total is considerably easier for churches using an automated check-in system. And churches with a live stream need to include viewers, but be realistic, don’t count 3-second views. While technically, this is not donor data, accurately tracking this information provides essential data points to measure growth.
Average Giving Per Person
Every church needs to know their average giving per person per Sunday. It’s a foundational statistic essential when building the budget and easy to calculate. Divide the annual giving by the average adult attendance (gathering accurate attendance is important) and then divide it by 52 ( or the number of weeks in a year). Here’s a quick example:
- Total Annual Giving: $975,000
- Average Weekly Adult Attendance: 750
- A subtotal of $1,300 divided by 52 = $25.00 per person per Sunday
For those wondering, according to The Unstuck Group, a healthy church should range from $37 to $45 per person per Sunday.
According to data from tithe.ly, consistent givers are very generous. How generous? Their study shows that those who give to their church at least once a month make up only 15% of the church but are responsible for 51% of the giving. Running a donor analysis that reveals the consistency factor in your church helps determine an accurate projection; it may also indicate an opportunity where the church can grow in this important discipline. One way to promote consistency is to offer and encourage recurring online/digital giving.
People stop financially supporting churches for a variety of reasons. Sometimes they move, lose their job, retire, or leave the church. For growing churches, new people are coming all the time, and if they decide to make your church their home, most of them eventually begin to support the church financially. It may sound crass or even carnal, but running a report to track this activity every quarter helps identify those who may have left the church, allowing the church the opportunity to reach out to them. From a budgeting perspective, it also helps to understand the financial loss of their departure. Conversely, every church should know when people begin to invest financially in the ministry. A gain/loss report is beneficial when budgeting to identify possible trends in giving and adjust the projection accordingly.
Churches beginning the budget process should use donor data to gain deeper insight into attendance and giving trends allowing for a more accurate budget projection. Just be sure to inform the rest of the staff when you begin the process so they aren’t alarmed when you stare into the distance, contemplating what it all means.short url: