Giving to religious organizations is highest on Easter, outranking even Christmas day for the amount of donations. Tens of millions of individuals attend a religious service at least once a week, a number that goes up by 25% on Christmas and nearly 50% on Easter. Many churches need to hold multiple services just to accommodate the influx, a necessary step to ensure all
congregants can enjoy the services and also have the opportunity to donate.
Easter stands apart from other holidays for several reasons. Compared specifically to
Christmas, it is not quite as commercialized and for many churchgoers it can encourage
reflection. With chocolate bunnies and assorted treats there is certainly a commercial element
to Easter, but the holiday does not involve the purchasing of multiple presents or decorations.
According to data from the National Retail Federation, the average consumer spends $800
on Christmas and Hanukah-related spending and $110 on Easter. In sum, the report finds
Christmas results in more than $400 billion in spending compared to nearly $13 million for
Easter. The overall spending during Christmas of course affects a family's budget, so they have
often do not have enough funds to make a donation. Beyond the cost of gifts and inflatable
Santa, Christmas often involves travel, another considerable expense.
Findings from research organization State of the Plate found a rise in donations for 2011 after
several years of recessionary decline. The largest group to report an increase was the "mega-
churches" of 2,000 or more congregants, with 70% noting increased giving for the year.
There are several reasons for the substantial number of donations that occur on Easter. Many
churches rely on Easter donations because it is one time of the year that a multitude of faiths
are drawn to either a sunrise or morning service. Individuals that typically only attend services
two times a year are also more likely to donate and tend to contribute a higher than average
amount when compared to regular attendees.
Easter of course is on a Sunday, another point in its favor for bringing in churchgoers. Most
people are not working on Christmas, but attending services during the week can disrupt normal routines and be inconvenient for some families. Easter is also just one day, while Christmas is more of a "season" that unfortunately for many is starting earlier and earlier in the fall, with sales seen well before October.
For many Christians, Easter is the most important day of the church year as it represents
the Resurrection and tends to focus churchgoers on self-reflection and new beginnings. This
sentiment encourages attendance, especially among those who do not typically go to services.
Churches rely on the Easter donations boost to help them through the summer time, which is
traditionally a very slow period of giving. For some churches, their donations do not see a spike
until Thanksgiving, when cash and item donations start pouring in.
The future outlook for church tithing
With the recession trailing away, the trends for churches should be a slow rise in charitable
donations, even as the organizations struggle with congregant retention. Churches are using
Easter and yearly donations to provide staff raises, establish missions, improve infrastructure,
and of course to aid the community and those in need.
A fundamental shift is also occurring in how churches go about collecting donations, as they
are going beyond the collection plate. New methods include online giving, auto-debit, and a
new crop of applications led by FlowPay, an app that not only enables secure donations, but
also gives churches back-end reporting and control. These new collection methods are helping
religious organizations to pull in steady streams of donations that come in not just on Sundays.
Many individuals no longer carry cash, so churches are wise to offer mobile services and even
on-site kiosks that enable fast donations at the individual's convenience.