By Curtis Simmons

5 hidden secrets to using your giving history to grow your giving future

As you know, understanding history helps us apply past learnings to decision-making. That’s a key part of biblical wisdom.

This truth isn’t always easily applied to growing generosity, but it’s doable if you know these 5 hidden secrets about giving data.

1) Giving data requires context

No data point is meaningful in isolation. Knowing that John Smith gave $100 last Sunday doesn’t provide meaningful insight on its own.

Because you care not just about last Sunday’s giving total, but have a mission to grow your members into mature, engaged believers, you also want to see John Smith grow in the area of generosity for his own spiritual well being. But how do you measure or define that?

You may have your own labels for the Giver’s Journey, the desired path from the first gift to engaged stewards, but feel free to borrow from ours. We see the path like this:

This is called segmentation. And it’s imperative for the next secret.

2) Giving data is actionable.

A chart with arrows pointing up or down isn’t actionable, unless you call hand-wringing or finger-crossing a suitable action for your giving strategy. So, while the first part of viewing your giving history is simply to KNOW it, if that’s all you do, you won’t get anywhere. It’s what you do with that information that will impact the future.

The information you glean is for the purpose of effective messaging: You will use the data to communicate with your givers and non-givers, based on their individual giving behavior.

People do not respond to generic email blasts with information that does not apply to them or to impersonal messages. Wait – that’s not true. They respond by unsubscribing.

But personalizing communication requires more than a software program that automatically inserts the giver’s name into a generic email. It includes language that acknowledges where they are in the giving journey (see #1) and shows the giver that you truly know them.

But we’re not (necessarily) talking just about email or about individual messaging, (i.e. “Dear John, we see that your giving has gone up/down,” or “Dear Mary, you haven’t given at all this year. Why?”)

No, viewing your online giving data through the right analytics platform gives you the astounding ability to categorize givers and communicate with them as a group, according to how they give … or don’t—automatically!

You thank first time givers differently than you thank long-time loyal tithers. You encourage non-givers differently than you do major donors. You avoid irritating or alienating people with messages that don’t apply to them.

This is called nurturing your givers. And targeted messaging is the only way to do this at scale.

3) Giving data identifies areas of current and future risk

While every church wants to grow givers to the mature and engaged category, your data may reveal too much dependence on this group if new giving has plummeted or the number of consistent givers has flattened. This indicates a need to adjust your messaging to reach non-givers or to reevaluate reasons for an overall lack of new growth in attendance.

Even if new giving is up, if consistent giving has flattened and fewer givers are transitioning to the next stage in the giver’s journey, you can predict future shortfalls as older givers pass away or in the event of an unfortunate disruption to mature givers’ loyalty.

Every stage of the giver’s journey needs your attention in order to grow generosity consistently, and each stage requires something different.

Automated, personalized messaging is required to do this well.

4) Giving data that syncs in real time with your ChMS gives you a holistic look at specific givers.

Part of nurturing your givers is being able to drill into your data to see when you need to follow up sensitively on a sudden drastic change in a specific giver’s pattern to see if all is well in their life. This deep dive can help you understand why some aren’t progressing on the giving journey and where additional areas of assistance may be needed.

Real-time syncing between your online giving data, your bank and your ChMS is the only way to get that kind of holistic visibility.

5) Giving data can be accessible and understandable.

Some ministry leaders love analytics and want access to their raw data to explore in a hundred different ways. Others want to be able to customize how they receive their data and still others want their data to come fully set up and easy to understand.

But most church analytics platforms aren’t that flexible and communications guidance is limited, so many ministry leaders find the whole topic overwhelming.

Vision2’s integration with Sisense, the leading analytics platform, allows our church partners to have it their way. Our platform allows you to mine your data’s secrets, bidirectionally sync with your ChMS in real-time, then segment, target, and automate your giver’s journey communications. We even provide sample messaging.

Free Giving Experience Audit


Did you know that 83% of the people who visit your website LEAVE without making a donation?

Our team will review your church’s online giving experience against 60 of the most common obstacles that get in the way of a giver’s generosity. We will then send you a detailed set of recommendations that will help you to reach your true giving potential.

Click here to Schedule your free Giving Experience Check-up now.