The one thing motivating Christian givers

In 2021, we surveyed 1,287 U.S. Christian givers, including people who give with NCF and others who don’t, to find out what motivates givers and what people hope their giving will bring about. It boiled down to one thing.

In many ways, the landscape of Christian giving is changing. But in some ways, it is very much the same. A principle that has motivated generosity for decades (for centuries, really) continues to be a driving force behind giving today – a desire to please God.

We worked with research organizations Barna Group and Heart and Mind Strategies to explore not only financial giving goals, but also motivations and ultimate aspirations of Christian givers. What did they hope to accomplish by giving?

The researchers expected to see a wide range of responses, and various perspectives did emerge. Some givers value making an impact most (7 percent). Others prioritize sharing God’s love with the world (8 percent). And some just want to give more (4 percent). But it all boiled down to one thing.

The most defining aspiration of Christian givers is the desire to be good and wise stewards of what God has given them.

This desire is the driving force for almost half the Christian givers who were surveyed and was selected by more than twice as many respondents as any other option. 

The research dug deeper to find that the motivation behind that aspiration is likely the core belief “that God owns it all” and that everything they have belongs to him. We see this in our own experience, too. As we meet givers, we often hear comments such as “I own nothing,” “I am just a steward of what is his,” and “This is God’s business, not mine.”

With this insight, it’s clear why being a good and wise steward of what God has given is the overwhelming driver for the majority of Christian givers. In our research, it didn’t matter their age, their gender, or the amount they give. With few exceptions, generous Christians view the financial resources they have through the lens of wise stewardship. Despite differing perspectives on a variety of subjects, the desire to be good and faithful stewards unites just about all Christian givers. 

Ultimately, givers want to be good stewards who are faithful in the giving God has called them to do. Their biblical worldview informs their thinking, reaches their hearts, and is lived out as a faithfulness that leads them to joy and gratitude for all they’ve been given.

The goal, or better, the longing, could not be clearer. They’re aiming for heaven and the chance to hear these words: “Well done, good and faithful servant…enter into the joy of your Master” (Matthew 25:23).

Want to learn more about our research?

Download the full report.

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