It’s a perennial problem for all Catholic parishes: financial stewardship. Rare is the faith community whose leaders are always completely confident in the consistency and level of its members’ financial gifts. According to Nonprofits Source, 37% of regular church attendees don’t give any money at all to their church, and tithers only make up about 10 to 25% of a normal church congregation.
While this is a common statistic, it doesn’t need to be an ongoing problem within your faith community. Here are some common reasons why even faithful churchgoers aren’t giving to their parish on a regular basis.
They forgot to Bring their Cash, Check or Envelope
How many of us have realized, just as we see the basket being passed at collection, that we left our checkbook or offertory envelope on the kitchen counter? Chances are that means we will also forget to mail it in at some point that week. Financial giving can often be “one more thing” on the to-do list of busy parents and professionals, so it’s important for parishes to make it as easy as possible for parishioners to get their money to the church. This means prioritizing and highlighting alternative giving options by using programs like WeShare, which can set up recurring or one-time donations using a variety of devices.
Programs like these also appeal to more technology-literate generations who rarely carry cash or utilize checkbooks, and the ease of use makes it more likely for donors to set up a recurring gift that they don’t have to think about.
They Aren’t Members … Yet
In 2009, The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University found that about 37% of American Catholic parishes regularly serve a significant population of Catholics who are not registered at their parish. A later, related study found that this number is more likely to include younger people born after 1981 and Asian or Pacific Islander Catholics and Hispanic or Latino Catholics (due to cultural norms in their country of origin). Those who are not members are less likely to financially support the parish.
They Don’t Feel a Connection to the Community
This problem could stem from a number of sources. Are your parishioners aware of what your parish has to offer them, whatever state in life they find themselves in? Are they feeling welcomed, included and invited? Do they understand the importance of parish membership and the sense of belonging to a faith community they can call their own? Do they understand exactly where the money goes? Is there adequate education (from the pulpit, in the bulletin, on social media) about the good your parish is able to do in the community because of the generous financial support of its parishioners?
They Don’t Know Why They Should
It’s simply a fact of modern life that religious affiliation has declined, and with it the sense of stewardship over a local parish church. According to Nonprofits Source, giving overall is at about 2.5% of a family’s annual income these days, compared to roughly 3.3% during the Great Depression. Additionally, the Church has suffered from damaging publicity in recent years due to the clergy sexual abuse crisis. Many parishioners do not differentiate between “the Church hierarchy” that they read about in the news and the men and women — ministers, teachers, and administrative staff — who rely on their local parish for their salaries.
They Don’t Feel Their Donation Would Make a Difference
This can be especially common in parishes in geographic areas that have earned the reputation for having wealthy residents. Is your pastor and parish leadership doing a good job of emphasizing the parable of the widow and her two coins? It doesn’t matter what the socioeconomic reality of a parish population is — if the parking lot on Sunday morning is filled with expensive cars and the tickets to the annual dinner auction are beyond a family’s normal monthly entertainment budget, they may be embarrassed about the amount they are able to give on a regular basis.
Need some help getting your parishioners to give? Check out the WeShare Engagement Campaign — FREE for all customers. Find out more and sign-up today to double your donations.