Churches have a lot on their plates. Competition for churchgoers' attention and money is fierce in our digital-first world. And as online channels expand, it gets harder to stand out—and retain your church members. In short, church leaders should turn to quality analytics regarding donor data. That said, there's a way through what seems to be a growing forest.

Our CEO, Joe Parks, recently sat down with Executive Vice President Brent Spicer of the generosity software company, MortarStone. Joe and Brent had a robust discussion about donor data. MortarStone realized three vital things every church should know about data.

We invite you to watch the video. Here we'll share three quick takeaways and then dive deeper into data.

  1. Most churches never receive a second gift from 40 percent of new givers.
  2. Regarding retaining church donors, most stop giving three to six months before they leave the church or stop attending. So, giving indicates a significant change between church members and their church.
  3. The top 10 percent of givers provide more than 50 percent of the revenue for churches. In short, that's a lot of income from a small group. What if they leave? And while that may mean fundraisers should focus on them, it could also be problematic.

Again, watch the video of the discussion between Joe and Brent. It’s brief (just about 20 minutes of your time). And watching it will provide you with greater insights essential for any church leader interested in the future of church fundraising—data.

What is Data Analytics?

To succeed in today's digital landscape, churches should leverage quality analytics. Moreover, they need to adopt a data-driven approach to fundraising and finances. That includes leveraging data to identify new opportunities and unifying fragmented information. Without quality data analytics initiatives, your church risks falling behind. That’s why this article explores why quality analytics and data matter.

Analytics are data-driven insights that inform church leaders to make strategic decisions. Data analytics collects, processes, and analyzes various channels and sources. The best approach to quality data is in an integrated system. As a result, increasingly, there’s a shift in mindset to not just getting technology but finding integrated platforms.

Of course, data analytics includes analysis. For church finances, it’s vital to determine what is going on (e.g., how inflation impacts your finances). With quality analytics, your church can leverage that information to make strategic and tactical decisions. For example, if your church doe online fundraising, you can track key metrics. Analytics gives you a 360-degree view of donor behavior. For instance, they show you how people interact with your campaigns, which channels they use, what times of the year they give, and more.

Why Quality Information Matters

Marketers often turn to data-driven campaigns to achieve a specific goal. In the case of church fundraising, you might use automated email campaigns or retargeting ads to “nudge” website visitors to act on your donation pages. Or you may use text-to-give to encourage church members to text a specific number to donate. On their own, these tactics don't necessarily result in increased donations. But they do provide valuable quality analytics insights with the right platforms.

Leveraging your current data can discover new opportunities to optimize fundraising campaigns. And, in light of the facts Joe and Brent discussed, it’s vital to maximize fundraising revenue. The data you collect and use is critical to your church’s success. If your data or output is inaccurate, you won’t know how best to serve member needs.

You’ll also struggle to accurately measure how your fundraising activities, including capital campaigns, perform. Moreover, data tells you what methods are most effective. Poor data quality can lead to false conclusions that ultimately hurt your church’s fundraising efforts and growth. Therefore, it's vital to look at high-quality analytics platforms, such as MortarStone, and others.

How to Achieve Quality

Data is a strategic church asset. Every number tells a story and can inform several church decisions and initiatives. In other words, money and ministry matter to church leaders. As a result, a successful fundraising campaign is built on a solid foundation of quality data. With quality analytics and data, your church should answer the following questions.

  • Which segments of your church members provide the greatest return on investment (ROI)?
  • How do your current members segment into those groups?
  • What are the behavioral characteristics of these church members?
  • Which segments have the highest propensity to give?
  • What actions trigger those segments to donate?

Build a Revenue Effort with Data

Church fundraising requires data in the information age. Moreover, with quality data in place, you can build a fundraising effort informed by insights rather than guesses. That means you can strategically assess which donors require what type of investment. It could also tell you which channels to invest in, when, and how to invest. For example, let’s say your data shows young families are responsible for a large percentage of your church’s revenue. In that case, you can invest more in efforts that appeal to young families. So, it may result in new technology or even the increased use of online giving options.

Estimate Return on Investment with Data

Knowing how much money your church brings in each year is essential. But it's also only part of the equation. Understanding how much you spent to bring in that revenue is even more critical. For example, if you're considering investing in a new effort, like a debt campaign, you’ll want to know the return on investment. Without quality analytics and data, you’ll rely on guesses or limited data in fractured systems, which doesn’t work. But with data and platforms, you’ll thoroughly know your return on investment. In other words, data platforms have long since stopped being a 'nice to have.' They're a 'must have.' And further, churches must integrate the data platforms for the best results.

Discover Your Most Effective Fundraising Paths with Data

After fully integrating data analytics, your church will transform. You'll see some paths as more effective than others. Further, your church leaders will strive to maximize current efforts while trying new things based on data insights. It’s inevitable as church finance leaders get more comfortable with powerful data platforms.

Your church is unique, and your data and how it's collected reflect that. That's why you need to approach data analytics and data-driven finance and church giving with a laser focus on quality analytics. It's also important to note that data analytics isn't something you do once and then forget about it. It’s an ongoing process that requires continuous learning. That said, an investment in quality data analytics is critical to your church’s success in the modern digital landscape.

For deeper insights and fundraising for your church, explore for free Horizons Stewardship Giving365.

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