Overarching theme for generosity challenges
For the last 63 years or so (roughly since 1953), giving in the US church has been on the decline, to the point that giving as a percentage of income is at about the same level it was in 1928-1930, the time of the Great Depression. During the same period, wealth accumulation, as measured by key stock indices, has increased dramatically. Some call it one of the largest accumulations of wealth ever in such a short time. We have plenty of financial resources but we are not being generous with them.
The result of the decline in giving is that the vision of the US church is significantly underfunded. Consequently, children transformation initiatives by churches and non-profits are immensely undermined. There is significant work that can be done in Jesus’ name if the financial resources were available.
The US church is struggling to come up with effective giving process and mechanisms using technology solutions. The ones that are currently available are clunky, ineffective, expensive or some combination thereof. The challenges we are presenting are directed toward helping the church solve those issues.
Challenge #1: Simpler and quicker to give with automated responses to givers
Key question to frame the challenge: Knowing that generosity brings about spiritual growth and that generosity is a like a muscle (the sooner they start exercising it the stronger the person will become), how do we radically shrink the amount of time it takes someone to become generous to a cause?
Giving and generosity systems in churches are set up mainly to appeal to the Boomer generation and older. As giving motivations changes, younger givers are not only looking at different reasons to give but also different methods to give. Churches are notorious for only promoting cash and checks in their weekly offerings. This will not work as we try to encourage church people (especially the younger generations) to become more generous to the church.
Challenge 1a: One Possible Solution
How do we make it very simple for people to give electronically? How can we develop easy to use giving mechanisms (mobile devices) that would be appealing and easy to use? And, after they give, how can we created automated responses based on their giving activity (amount of gift, frequency of gift, etc.). An additional feature would be automatically generated reports for the senior leadership team showing changes in giving activity – increase in regular giving, significant one-time gift, decrease in giving.
Note: We are not looking to challenge a team to create a giving solution. There are plenty of those (Pushpay, Kindrid, SecureGive, SimpleGive, et. al.). This is about enabling all the devices and giving interfaces to work together in such a way as to promote generosity.
Challenge 1b: Another Possible Solution
Additionally, givers are motived when they know their giving makes a difference. In other words, “How are lives changed when I give?” Stories of impact make a big difference. However, churches are challenged when it come to collecting the stories and telling them to their constituency. What if we could create a “generosity channel” in the church – a place where people would be encouraged to upload their stories. The church would need to have a curator to screen and organize the videos. People could subscribe to the channel. Alternately, the church could push the videos to people as they make contributions to the church.
Simple, economical online tools allow leaders to do what they do best, without worrying about the technical details of raising money. Providing a simple interface to encourage givers to start giving will advance generosity, especially with people who do not typically write checks to the church.
Challenge #2: Crowd funding and synergy with other churches
Key question to frame the challenge: While some churches and Christian organizations struggle to realize their vision, often there are many congregation members within churches who can help with the required resources and capital. How can we create a platform within a Christian environment where congregation members can support their own churches and other organizations including children focused causes? How can we empower single individuals with concepts of Crowd Funding/Crowd Contributing in a Christian environment to serve large churches and organizations at their point of need?
Communities have needs that are not funded. Churches do not typically come together to fund community needs. Many times, those churches would fund community type projects if they had the resources. The idea here is to unite multiple churches in a community and, at the same time, create a crowd funding mechanism to raise the resources. For example, an urban ministry has a legitimate need for $100,000. Churches do not pay attention because they know they do not have $100,000. What if we could unite 4-5 churches at $20,000 – $25,000 each and then use a crowd funding mechanism inside each church to raise the $100,000 total?
(Note: Though we have only mentioned community needs, this mechanism could be used to fund all kinds of needs – church plants and startup ministries, for example. Can we create an application that will grow with the needs of leaders, especially when they transition from ‘startup’ to ‘established’? Users will be able to create instant giving sites, with TANGIBLE items pre-populated that we know new churches need (i.e. trailers, microphones, stage equip, insurance, etc.). Similar to Kickstarter, but context specific to meet known needs church leaders need, the system will automatically generate a giving micro site and give leaders full control over their own giving area.)
Simple, economical online tools allow leaders to do what they do best, without worrying about the technical details of raising money. Processing costs will be distributed across the community so that individual ministries are not bearing brunt of all those costs. Gives leaders a ‘jumpstart’ on casting vision for tangible needs, because the system will pre-populate their giving area with common needs. Integrations with Mail Chimp, Social Media etc. will allow leaders to quickly cast vision and start raising money.