How to Demonstrate a Return on Investment to Your Donors

Don Smith

One of the most frequently cited reasons for making a charitable donation is the donor’s desire to make a difference in the world. People want to see their donations at work. Donors want to know their gift is making a difference, and they want to see a return on their investment (ROI). However, in the church, we frequently fail to help people make the connection between ministry and money. Rather than ask people to help us make an impact, we invite people to support the general budget. How can we encourage giving by demonstrating a real return on investment to our donors?

To increase giving, churches need to tell inspiring stories of life-change.

They need to demonstrate an ROI to their donors. Churches that thrive create strategies for connecting donations to the church’s ability to do life-changing ministry. Transformational stories happen every week within and beyond your church walls. It is important to tell your donors how their support is making these stories possible.

Here’s how to demonstrate a return on investment.

Create a strategy for connecting giving to 52 life-changing ministries every year. Through inspiring stories, tell donors how annual giving is impacting people in real and tangible ways.

  • Share one story a week. Every time the congregation gathers for worship, share a story about how the financial generosity of people has resulted in a changed life. Invite people who have been directly impacted to tell their stories.
  • Connect the story to the offering time. The most obvious time to share this story is right before the offering. By sharing stories prior to the offering, you are helping people connect their giving with the church’s ability to do ministry.
  • Make it brief! Tell the story as briefly as possible—preferably in a minute or less, and be sure to have the storyteller write it down to avoid going off script.
  • Spread the love. Your church participates in a variety of ministries. Be intentional about highlighting the many ways that God is working through all the ministries of your church.

Here is an example of a story shared in worship by one of Horizons Stewardship’s ministry partners.

This past week, more than 550 children and 175 volunteers filled the halls of our church building for our annual Vacation Bible Camp. One woman brought her three foster children and, thanks to scholarships underwritten through your contributions, these children were able to register for VBC, hear the stories of Jesus, make new friends and receive the unconditional love of our teachers and volunteers. Another person, a last-minute adult volunteer, began asking questions about the Bible stories being shared with the children.

So, along with another volunteer, she sat down during one of the breaks to read the Bible with a renewed curiosity. Our VBC Director commented, “This is why we do what we do.” I would add, “This is why we give what we give.” As we receive the offering today, I want to say, “thank you” for your generosity, which helps Vacation Bible Camp and so many other life-changing ministries happen.


Every week, you have an opportunity to tell a life-changing story. Your donors want to be a part of life-changing ministries. Help them see their return on investment.

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