No More Assumptions: Using Data to Nurture Your Congregation

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We live in a digital era, where technology is at our fingertips and access to data helps us manage our day-to-day lives more efficiently. For example, EveryDollar lets us track our household spend so we have a better understanding of where our money is going and how to budget more effectively. Or, what about a Nest thermostat? Not only can we control it from anywhere on the road, but the system uses data to determine when to heat and cool your house based on trends and user behavior. The system literally takes the next step for you based on your activity. It’s brilliant, and results in major energy savings as well.

So why are churches struggling to leverage data and insights that will help them reach their congregation and respond to the needs of their community more effectively? Well, until now, most churches haven’t had access to that data. At Pushpay, we partner with churches like yours every day, and we frequently hear that you need visibility into trends and insights in order to take the right action and better engage with people.

Here are three ways you can use data to nurture your congregation today:

1. Understand donor activity

The first step is having visibility into the activities of your community members—and, more specifically, the ones that are financially contributing to your organization. Do you know who gave this week? Who was a first-time giver? How much their gift was? Or, more importantly, can you quickly identify who your top donors are? Resources such as a donor dashboard now provide churches with valuable insights and metrics about donor activity in real-time.

2. Identify where individuals are in their journey

You can also use giving data to surface insights about someone’s individual journey. Get visibility into the different stages of donor activity along with recommended actions based on where people currently are. Is someone a first-time donor? Longtime member? Have their financial contributions stopped? Maybe they need help. Or, more importantly, what are the best next steps to help move them forward?

Awareness and visibility to life changes will allow you to connect with your congregation in more personal and meaningful ways, and ultimately create deeper connections to encourage their spiritual growth. The donor dashboard not only surfaces valuable insights, but provides recommended action, resources, and next steps on how to engage your donors. Would they benefit from a pastoral visit? Would it be impactful to pick up the phone or write them a quick note? Or are there resources that can help move them forward in their faith journey?

3. Quantify the impact

People want to feel connected to something greater than themselves and to know they are making a difference. In fact, according to a recent study, one of the top three reasons people give is “seeing that my contribution makes a real difference and the organization has real impact.”

Use data to help tell the story. You can deliver campaign-specific communication, such as a thank you note based on the fund they gave to, in order to show gratitude and quantify campaign progress. Share how the recent mission trip was a success because of their gift, or how many hot meals you were able to provide to people facing homelessness. You can also utilize your church app to share similar messages or bring awareness to upcoming opportunities.

Data is only a solution when it drives action. It’s a powerful resource when used to create interactions between the Church and individuals to help move them forward in their faith journey. As we approach the holiday season, we encourage you to carve out time with your leadership team. Look for any blind spots in your outreach strategy and how you can use data to help bridge the gap to create a more engaged community.

Author: Troy Pollock is the chief ambassador at Pushpay, a software company based in Redmond, WA. As the first U.S. employee, he has been an integral part of the development, strategic planning, and growth at Pushpay the last seven years. In addition, he currently leads donor development at a multi-site church in Washington. Prior to Pushpay, Troy was the executive pastor at a church in southern California.

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