Recurring Gifts are Down 40% in 2021 | Here’s How You Can Help!

Annual Growth and Reach Statistics | 2020 Annual Impact Report

Article By: Sarah Koontz

We love creating free Bible studies. It is a joy, an honor, and a privilege to serve God and our community in this manner.

As we embark on our fourth year as a non-profit ministry, we are grateful for yet another opportunity to invite you to partner with us in this life-giving work.

When God gave us a vision for this free Bible study ministry, He clearly directed us toward a community-supported ministry model.

Without your prayers, your shares, and your donations—our ministry model doesn’t work.

And that is exactly as it should be: God’s people, working together, to accomplish God’s purposes here on earth.

Since we started offering free Bible studies in 2017, we have delivered more than 50,000 to inboxes worldwide. 

Demand for our free studies skyrocketed in the past year due to the Covid-19 restrictions. In fact, we had more than 10,000 new subscribers join our Bible study community in 2020.

And we simply could not have done it without the faithful financial support of people like you.

Today we come to you with an urgent need and a humble request. Since January of 2020, we have lost 40% of our recurring donors and approximately $500 in monthly income. 

That adds up to more than $6,000 in annual income and creates a significant obstacle for our ministry moving forward.

Let me explain. 

Recurring Gifts: The Key To Sustainability

In 2020, 62% of our income came from major donors (people who gave more than $1,200 throughout the year). Even though we had 33 families who chose to cancel their recurring gifts in 2020, we were still able to raise enough funds to operate this ministry without cutbacks. 

Of course, we completely understand the strain the Covid-19 pandemic has placed on family budgets and recognize that our donor base has been profoundly affected by this unanticipated health and economic crisis.

We were not surprised to see attrition in our recurring gifts in this economy, but that doesn’t mean that we can allow this trend to continue without action on our part.

As per the IRS regulations for 501(c)3 non-profit organizations, at least one-third of our yearly donations must be given by donors who give less than 2% of the nonprofit’s overall receipts. 

In our case, this would be any individual who gives less than $1,227.50 per year (or $102 per month) to our organization.

Failure to pass the IRS public support test will result in our nonprofit having its public charity status retroactively reverted to a private foundation.

In 2020, we just barely met this 33% threshold. To maintain our non-profit status, we must actively seek out new donors who are willing to invest a small amount in our organization each year.

  • Recurring gifts allow us to plan ahead. 
  • Recurring gifts add up over time.
  • Recurring gifts help us build a community of loyal, engaged donors.

Although we are immensely grateful for our major donors, what we really need is an army of people who consistently give $10, $20, or $30 a month to our free Bible study ministry.

Set Up A Recurring Gift

Are You Part of the Ten-Percent?

If just 10% of our readers donated $10+ per month to this ministry, 100% of our financial needs would be met. 

With the support of the ten-percent, we can continue to serve ninety-percent of our community for free.

Also, by engaging an army of small individual donors we are creating a sustainable fundraising model and securing our future as a 501(c)3 organization. 

This is why we established our Discipleship Team in 2019. This group of committed monthly donors is our first line of defense when it comes to recession-proofing this ministry.

We depend on their recurring gifts to cover our fixed ministry expenses and a portion of staff salaries.

Discipleship Team members also receive monthly video updates, early access to all of our free Bible studies, an invitation to a private Facebook group, and the satisfaction of knowing that they are an integral part of our ministry team.

During our Spring Fundraiser (May 4-24, 2021), we hope to engage 40 new recurring (monthly, quarterly, or annual) donors to recuperate the losses we experienced this past year. That means we seek to secure an additional $500 per month in funding (or $6000 per year). 

Will you prayerfully consider becoming a financial partner in our mission to deliver free Bible studies to inboxes around the world?

Set Up A Recurring Gift

I am pleased to announce that we have secured another $3,000 Fish and Loaves Grant to help us in our efforts to cultivate new monthly donors for Living by Design Ministries. 

The “Fish & Loaves” Grant is inspired by Matthew 14:13-21. In this passage of Scripture, Jesus feeds 5,000+ people with just five loaves and two fish.

Our God is able to take our meager offerings and multiply them to meet the needs of others. And there is no greater joy on this earth than being an active participant in God’s provision for His people.

The grantmakers understand that we have immediate financial needs, and also desire the long-term stability that faithful monthly donors can offer a ministry. 

For this reason, they have offered up to $3,000 to be used as a 20% match on the first 12 months of any first-time recurring monthly donations set up by May 24, 2021.

  • A pledge for $10 a month generates $24 in grant money.
  • A pledge for $20 a month generates $48 in grant money.
  • A pledge for $30+ a month generates $96 in grant money.

And the best part is that the grant money will be received by the end of May!

To maximize this grant opportunity, we seek 40 families from our community of 15,000+ who are willing to commit to investing $10, $20, or $30 a month in this ministry through May 2022. 

Imagine if each member of your family put a quarter in a jar every time you sat down and read the Bible together this year! Every time you study, you would be setting aside money to help others study too. 

You will be collecting fish and loaves for Living by Design Ministries and inviting God to multiply our gifts for His glory and the edification of His people.

What a blessing; what a gift.

To qualify us for the grant money, simply set up a monthly recurring gift to Living by Design Ministries between May 4-24, and make a good-faith pledge that you will honor this commitment for at least twelve months.

Set Up A Recurring Gift
Handlettering by Rachel from The Smudge Factory LLC

As Christians, it is critical that we actively participate in kingdom work. God calls us to generously invest our time, talents, and treasures in the work He is doing around the globe.

When we give to a ministry we believe in, we are transferring a small amount of our earthly treasure to our heavenly bank account (Phil 4:17). 

Whether you have been part of our Bible study community for a few weeks or a few years, you have a role to play in the continued success of this ministry. 

Your prayers, shares, and donations help us reach women around the globe with the spiritual nourishment they crave.

As a small non-profit ministry, we are fully dependent on the free-will donations of our community members. 

Without the financial support of our Bible study community, we cannot continue our work. 

Thank you for prayerfully considering participating in this opportunity. We trust that God will guide and direct you as you decide how to respond to the challenge laid forth in today’s article.

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About the Author: Sarah Koontz

About the Author: Sarah Koontz

Sarah Koontz is the founder of Living by Design Ministries, a non-profit organization that exists to deliver free Bible Studies to inboxes around the world. She is a passionate storyteller who enjoys using illustrations to communicate deep spiritual truths. Sarah and her husband Ryan live on thirteen acres in the heart of the Black Hills, SD. They have two beautiful daughters, a rowdy flock of chickens, and a house full of foster kittens. Sarah is an avid gardener, a faithful coffee drinker, lover of one-pot-dinners, an unexpected homeschooler, and a Dallas Seminary student.

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