In a previous post I talked about the two reasons donors give—they give to people and they give to a vision. But I need to add another important point. People also give when they have a high regard for the leadership and trust the fiscal responsibility of the organization. Your church or non-profit may have an amazing vision, but if donors do not trust you, if they think your organization is shoddy when it comes to finances, they will not trust you with their money.
A friend told me years ago that his son was attending a small church, but he was contributing little to the regular giving. The reason given was he did not want to “throw money down a rat hole.” He did not trust the leadership and their use of the contributions. This young man grew up being taught the importance of giving. He did not need any sermons on tithing; in fact he was already a generous person. He just did not trust his church.
When I first heard the story I must confess I lamented the lack of institutional loyalty of this young man. I am old school enough to think, “It is our responsibility to give. It is the leadership’s responsibility to spend.” It is an interesting question and one that can be debated. I can make a case for either side.
What cannot be debated, however, is that the sentiment displayed by this young man is the norm today. If you are a church leader and you think your members are going to give just because they are supposed to, you will have a rude awakening. For the most part, non-profits do not suffer this illusion. They already know they are fighting for every dollar they receive. They must prove to their donor base and others that they are worthy recipients of donations.
Consider this—the growth of non-profits has doubled over the last 15 years. During this same time-frame giving to churches has declined from 50% to 33% of every dollar given in the U.S. There is more competition for donated dollars.
So the question you have to ask yourself is, “Is my church or non-profit a worthy steward of the funds it receives?” Maybe your giving is poor, or the donations are not coming in the way you would hope for a simple reason. They don’t trust you.
Are you a trustworthy steward?