Do Couples Give Together?

Who controls the wallet (or the checking account, or the debit card) when it comes to donations in two-adult evangelical households?

In very broad terms, the answer is that evangelical couples tend to give money together.  They make the decisions jointly, largely agree on where to give, etc.

But when we look at all the steps that go into giving, there is a surprising amount of disagreement and a variety of differing approaches.

Who Controls the Wallet report cover

Find all the details in our new report Who Controls the Wallet? How Evangelical Couples Give, from Grey Matter Research and Infinity Concepts. (For a free copy of Who Controls the Wallet?, simply e-mail

A Mixed Bag

Overall, partnership and agreement are fairly common:

  • 65% do all their giving together; another 17% do most of it together
  • 71% mostly or fully agree on what causes and organizations to support
  • 84% are largely in agreement about supporting faith-based organizations

However, there are points where each person goes his/her own way:

  • 35% do at least some giving separately; 12% do all giving separately
  • With joint giving, 52% say they have equal input to the decisions; 22% say the man tends to drive the decisions while 26% say it is the woman
  • 70% who give jointly say one person or the other tends to make the actual donations (writing the check, entering the credit card information on the website, etc.)

When we add it all up, we discover only 27% of all evangelical couples report complete synchronicity on giving.  They give jointly, there’s equal input from both spouses, they agree on where to give, etc..

The Challenge of Assumptions

It’s easy for organizations to assume a gift from “Antonio and Alice Silva” is truly from both Antonio and Alice, while a gift from “Richard Craig” is only from Richard. The reality is far more complex. Richard may be in charge of making actual payments, but he and his wife carefully discuss where to give and make decisions jointly. Alice may be passionate about a ministry and drive the decision to give out of their joint account, while Antonio begrudgingly agrees but has little interest in the organization.

When you receive a gift from a joint account, do you automatically format the address with “Mr. and Mrs. Antonio Silva”? Do you routinely assume both are equally passionate about your mission? Is communicating with one half of a giving unit good enough? Do you ask your donor whether his or her spouse wants to receive e-mail or text updates about your impact?  Or do you just hope the donor will at least occasionally forward those to the other adult in the household?

Does your CRM system even have a way to send messages to multiple people on the same account? Are your communications created more for women than for men, assuming women are driving the giving decisions? If you believe your donors are weighted heavily toward one gender, do you believe this solely because the names on your file are more likely to be Dawn and Rhonda than Don and Ronald?

In short, you need to assess carefully how much you assume versus how much you actually know. And if your assumptions are wrong, what impact might that have on your ability to build solid, long-term relationships with the people who support your calling?

Who Controls the Wallet? How Evangelical Couples Give details the findings from a study of more than 1,000 evangelical Protestant adults. The report is available free (e-mail

How Can We Help You?

Speaking of knowing versus assuming, what answers do you need that would help you know your donors better (and therefore communicate more effectively)? Grey Matter has helped scores of donor-supported organizations (child sponsorship, health, homelessness, education, evangelism, media, disaster relief, veterans – you name it) understand their current and potential donors.

We have A Passion for Research That Makes a Difference. Talk to us about how we can make a difference for you.


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