Sanford Levings

"Hi, I’m Sanford Levings, President of MinistryCFO and author of this blog. The purpose of our blog is to share with you information and insights that we gather from working with and listening to our clients and partners, located throughout the country." read more

Giving Trends – Part II – Critera

Highly Predictable Giving Trends

(Part 2 of 7-part series)

Tithers, Marginal Donors, Sporatic Donors: Giving Trends Part II

For those of you who are new to the conversation, please refer to yesterday’s post, which clarifies the three terms:  tithers, marginal donors, and sporadic donors.


We left yesterday telling you that in our next post we’d share with you the story of how we were able to come up with what we refer to as highly predictable giving trends.

So here it goes:  My name is Sanford Levings and I am the President of MinistryCFO.

Previous to MinistryCFO, I had the privilege of working for five years at North Point Ministries as the Director of Business Practices for the Strategic Partnership Team, where we planted approximately 30 churches across the country.

Our team at North Point was interested in identifying those church attendees who were bought into our church plants from strictly a financial commitment standpoint.  In other words, we wanted to identify those attendees who were meaningful and consistent financial contributors to the church.  We wanted to identify these attendees as tithers.  We established the criteria for a tither as follows:

  1. A donor (single or married) who had given at least 3 out of the last 5 months and,

  2. A donor giving at least $500, on average, each month.

By no means did we want to think lesser of those who did not give in a more substantial and consistent way.   Rather, we simply wanted to know if we could find giving norms across our network.

To our surprise, we found a very consistent pattern in our findings.

We found that 21% of the attendees at our partner churches met our criteria for tither.  The range was remarkably narrow across our network: the lowest tithing as a percent of attendees was 17% and the highest tithing as a percent of attendees was 26%.

We also discovered that a significant portion of the attendees made meaningful gifts (> $50) but did not give on a consistent basis (at least 3 out of the last 5 months).  We decided to categorize this group as sporadic donors.

And finally, there was a large group of marginal donors.  Almost half of the donors (44%) never gave a meaningful donation  (> $50).  (Please note that a smaller donation may have indeed been meaningful from the donor’s perspective and we don’t want to make light of that).

So there you have it.   We hope you now can see behind the curtain.



Leave a Comment