No matter a church’s size, 12Stone’s Norwood Davis believes all churches can benefit from collecting data around the per-person-per-week giving metric.
“Here’s what’s beautiful about that metric,” said Davis. “It’s very flexible and scalable, regardless of what size church you are. All you have to do is create a simple table that has the date in the first column, the number of people in your worship service in the second column, and the total dollars in the third column. For the fourth column, you simply divide the third column by the second column, and that begins the data collection process.”
From there, patterns will start to form: seasonal highs and lows, holiday changes, even changes related to the pay periods of the congregants. Those patterns shifted the whole budgeting process for 12Stone. “Instead of taking our revenue projection for the year, and doing a straight line division over 52 weeks, we changed our approach so our budget reflected those seasonal [and other] variabilities.”
In time, a church will want to start creating a simple graph, advised Davis, which can be done fairly easily with Microsoft Excel—and a little bit of knowledge. He pointed out that there are easy online Excel tutorials and recommended taking an inexpensive Excel class at a local college.
But the most important thing, he said, is to keep collecting the data and think in terms of long-term trends. “The key thing is to take disciplined, small steps; just start collecting the data,” said Davis. “Keep it going, keep improving it.”