By Curtis Simmons

The Giver Lifecycle: New & Infrequent Givers

This is the third in a series of 6 posts on growing generosity in the digital age. Start here: How to Nurture Generosity in the New Digital World.

In our last post, we introduced the simple concept of the Giver Lifecycle. It represents the path your givers will ideally take over their lifetime as they mature in the spiritual discipline of giving. Don’t worry, you’re more familiar with this concept than you may realize.

How Givers are Like Kids

Givers fall into a few foreseeable categories, much like the growth stages of children: Birth, infancy, toddlerhood, childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. Children’s temperaments vary wildly, but there’s enough of a pattern to support catchphrases like the “terrible twos” and “rebellious teen.”

Just as you treat each stage of childhood differently, your messages to each giving stage should differ, too.

Because each person is unique, a one-size-fits-all weekly or monthly message can’t be expected to grow areas like giving. But when you classify your givers according to their giving frequency (or level of generosity), you can use their commonalities to determine the type of messages they will best respond to.

Giver Lifecycle Stages

The four most common generalized giving profiles in the Giver Lifecycle are:

  • New Givers
  • Infrequent Givers
  • Frequent Givers
  • Top Givers

In this post, we’ll discuss New and Infrequent Givers.

New Givers in the Giver Lifecycle

New givers represent your greatest opportunity for long-term growth in every aspect of the church, not just giving. They need to be nurtured and matured. Just don’t expect an overnight impact from your efforts. And don’t count on them for shoring up your church’s finances in the short term.

Here a few things to know about new givers:

  • When you address this group your primary message is Welcome and Thank You!
  • If new givers are newcomers, use your giving thank you email to do more. You could introduce them to the pastor with a video message. Or you could include links to various ministries and opportunities to get involved in the church community. For example, share details about your newcomers’ classes or a foundational Generosity Rockstar program that encourages a commitment to give as little as $1 per week for the sake of growing the discipline of trusting God with their resources.
  • You must consistently affirm them with a sense of their gift’s impact on the church and community.
  • They’re in a learning phase. The most important things to teach? The importance of the spiritual discipline of giving in the greater journey of their spiritual development and relationship with God. And that giving is banding together with other believers to grow the kingdom.
  • How well you convey to new givers their gifts’ impact and the importance of giving directly affects long-term engagement and growth with them.

Tracking New Givers

When first-time givers are trending in your data, it’s important to know who these individuals are. Detailed information on these givers allows staff to reach out to extend a hearty personal welcome (if they’re new to your church).

If new givers are not new but are current members or guests who have suddenly started giving, you’re doing something right. Keep it up!

If first-time giving is down, it indicates either a lack of newcomers or a lack of engagement with your non-givers. Fortunately, your giving and attendance data should help you identify what is causing this and where to focus your attention.

Infrequent Givers in the Giver Lifecycle

Infrequent givers are those who have given at least once but do not give consistently. Giving habits can reflect other issues. So, identifying this group allows you to minister to folks who haven’t made progress in their giving journey or in other areas of spiritual growth. 

Watch for transitions. For example, a change in a household’s formerly consistent giving may indicate a job loss, dissatisfaction with some aspect of the church, or a family crisis.

If infrequent giving is trending across your whole membership, it signals a need to identify gaps in your messaging. It’s a call to investigate the overall health of your church, especially if previously consistent giver’s giving habits have recently changed.

Manage risk by reaching out directly to see what’s going on. This group might need to be classified or segmented even further in order to understand trends and message appropriately. For example, you may need to differentiate between those who have given in the past year and those who have not. Or separate out those infrequent givers you know have become recently unemployed or are having a family crisis. The types of encouragement they need will differ.

Monitoring Your Givers’ Lifecycle

Please remember that your primary goal in classifying givers is not to hound them to give. Rather, it is to see their giving behavior as a clue to their physical or spiritual needs. It’s an opportunity to connect more personally and to tailor the church’s programs and communications so you can improve engagement. And that includes giving!

In our next blogpost in this series, The Giver Lifecycle: Frequent & Top Givers, we’ll discuss the unique focus churches should have on their most generous and consistent givers. 

Or download How to Nurture Generosity in the New Digital World to get access to the expanded version of the entire series in one printable PDF.