The #1 Cause of Church Stewardship Failure

The #1 Cause of Church Stewardship Failure

Written by Denis Greene

Greene founded Church Development in 1992 and has since helped over 300 churches across the USA raise more than $300,000,000. He is the author of The Stewardship System, Stewardship-Based Capital Campaigns, and How To Ask For Donations as well as numerous articles on stewardship. He is also a proud member of the elite Catholic Speakers Organization,

October 3, 2019

Whether we want to admit it or not, we are in a state of failure. Only 5% of church goers tithe, and we know it is good for the soul just like we know exercising is good for the body. Charitable giving is a $300 billion industry. There are clear patterns for failure and clear best practices for success. Think you know what the root of the problem is? You might be surprised at our answer!

Is it the mindset…?

Here are a few of my church fundraising failure explanations…

  • “No, we are not going to do that, we have always done it this way.”
  • “That would be a waste of money.”
  • “Our finance committee can oversee the annual campaign.”
  • “We don’t talk about money.”
  • “We all equally share responsibility for fundraising.”
  • “Our members don’t need a fancy brochure to inform them how their donations have been spent.”
  • “We sure don’t need yet another spaghetti dinner.”
  • “We don’t want to have dinner with the pastor, we see enough of him every Sunday.”

These are all problematic and frustrating mindsets to encounter when you’re thinking creatively about your stewardship ministry, but they are not the #1 cause of failure. These all fall into the category of “the farmer who will not invest in seeds might be limiting the size of the crop.” An active stewardship committee can work to grow a stewardship culture at your church and address some of the above problems. But…


The #1 reason for failure is that NO ONE is in charge.

Someone in charge is someone who can be fired if they do not perform. Our study of churches who have hired a parish or church stewardship director or development coordinator indicated that they get 7 percent increase in giving in the first six months. Watch an interview with one of our partners that has had an increase in annual giving every year. 

The best practices are out there, many of them you’ll find here on our blog and our resources page. We have been researching success for over 20 years while managing over 100 church capital campaigns. We compiled the keys to success in The Stewardship System, our monthly system to grow annual giving.

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