Less than half of US churches saw an increase in giving of five per cent or more during 2015-2016, according to a survey of church leaders.

The sixth 2016 State of the Plate survey, which is based on a poll of almost 1,600 pastors, leaders and lay people, found that 59 per cent of churches reported flat-lined or decreased giving over the 2015-16 year, 20 per cent experienced a decline in giving of five per cent or more over the same period, and only 41 per cent saw an increase of five per cent or more. This compares with the 2012-13 year when 53 per cent of churches reported increased giving over the year.

Other key findings of the survey showed that while almost every church offered the chance to give in church services - referred to as "passing the plate", 79 per cent of churches now offered the chance to give via a website (up from 29 per cent in 2010), 46 per cent offered giving via a mobile phone/text/app (up from just four per cent in 2010) and 32 per cent have a kiosk or iPad in the lobby for in-person digital giving (although 68 per cent of those surveyed said they would like the latter option to be available).

The survey also found that only 41 per cent of people give consistently to their church on a weekly basis, 46 per cent give once or twice a month and six per cent give every few months.

"The implication for churches is that they need to make it as 'easy as possible to give' according to frequency a person or family prefers (weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, spontaneously) and with whatever means they prefer (cash, check, autopay, online, text, cell, app, kiosk)," the report said.

The report also found that a third of church members do not attend on any given weekend and that only 56 per cent of people aged in their 20s and 30s attend 90 per cent of services on a Sunday. Sickness remains the number one reason why people aged in their 20s and 30s are likely to miss church worship services (51 per cent), followed by work (32 per cent), social commitments (24 per cent) and being too tired ot not feeling like attending (21 per cent).

Brian Kluth, author, speaker, and founder of the State of the Plate research, said the report highlighted the importance of churches continuing to teach generosity as a Biblical value as well as the need "to provide as many ways as possible to help their people be faithful and generous givers to the Lord's work".

~ http://get.tithe.ly/stateoftheplate2016/.