Encouraging People on their Generosity Journey

The idea of a “giving pathway” isn’t a new concept. We’ve talked about the Next Steps of Generosity before, and I have shared a generous giver’s prayer. But what if we stopped thinking about this journey of generosity so much in terms of percentages and numbers?

Giving PathwayFirst – why is a pathway important? For the same reason you likely have a formal assimilation program in your church – you desire to move people from where they are, to where you (and God) want them to be. You have developed a logical “next steps” process – for example:

If you’re a first-time guest with us this weekend, we invite you to our monthly “Open Mic” night – come and learn anything you’d like to know about our church, mission, and ministries. At Open Mic night, you talk about their next step – attending your New Member class. Then in the New Member class, you talk about the importance of getting plugged in – take a spiritual gifts assessment, and get involved in a small group. Once engaged in the church and involved in a small group, you work to get them serving in a ministry area that aligns with their gift assessment. And so on. There is a logical, and easy-to-understand series of steps that helps the worship guest know how to engage with you and the church.

A similar process is wise in your giving discipleship program:

  • Non-givers need help understanding what their first step might be. “I’ve never giving before – where do I start? How much am I supposed to give? How/where do I give?” These may seem like easy questions for you, but consider the new believer who wasn’t raised in the church. Don’t assume even the most basic of questions – anticipate and answer them all.
  • Casual givers need a nudge to become a consistent giver.
  • Those who are tithing often believe they’ve “arrived” – that there is no next step for them. They believe they are right where God commands them, without considering that there is room for them to grow in their personal journey. We know that to be wrong, don’t we? Isn’t God always challenging us to grow with him in ALL areas of discipleship? Prayer, Bible study, service, giving, sharing the Gospel. A pathway helps to understand that we are always challenged to grow in our giving.

Often a giving pathway (or “Generosity Ladder” as first coined by Nelson Searcy in his book by the same name), is somewhat organized by gift amounts or income percentages. The first level is initial giver, while a higher level represents a tithe, and a still higher level represents an amount above the tithe. Well…can’t an initial giver begin giving at the level of a tithe? Do we have to wait until a higher step to reach that amount?

Today I want to challenge you to consider this pathway from a new perspective. Let’s look at this concept in terms of behavior. Rather than defining each step by an amount given, or a percentage of income, let’s define each step with a new behavior. How can we define each step in the pathway by a new behavior?

Let’s start at the beginning – with someone giving for the very first time.

An Initial Giver is someone who decides to give for the first time; someone who decides to give something and trust God and the leaders of the Church with this gift (2 Corinthians 8:7; 15). Before doing so, there are five things a first-time giver will likely need to know before they will give. These five things educate them, reassure them, and provide logistical information to empower them to give for the very first time. And as church leaders, that’s our job – to empower our people in spiritual growth. The new behavior – practicing generosity through a tangible act of giving.

New Year-End Giving Guide Now Available

With fewer than 100 days left in the year, you may find yourself wondering how you can encourage your people to “finish strong” this year in terms of generosity. Now is the perfect time to be asking yourself that question.

Mobile Giving

The most immediate benefit of a year-end giving project is, of course, increased giving. And we can all celebrate that result. But planning a strong year-end giving initiative with care and excellence will yield far greater results. Let’s take a look:

1. It prompts spiritual growth.
Growth in the area of generosity is a journey. Each time you broach the subject, you encourage people to take a step on the giving pathway. You encourage people to adjust their thinking and behavior patterns to align more closely with their faith. This time of year provides an excellent opportunity to raise this topic once again.

2. It normalizes the conversation.
Many church leaders are hesitant to talk about money. And your people don’t want to hear about money either – so it’s avoided completely. While most feel this avoidance solves the problem, it actually helps to ensure a negative outcome. As pastors, avoidance is simply not your friend. We need to do all we can to normalize the conversation, and an emphasis on year-end giving will help you do just that.

3. It provides an opportunity to talk about mission and vision.
An annual vision weekend or generosity series rarely creates any long-term traction in the lives of your donor base. Donors want to play a part in the larger story. It’s your job to show them how. It is critical that you take every possible opportunity to discuss, in a meaningful way, the church’s mission and vision and the role generosity plays in supporting the ongoing ministry of the church. Connecting the dots between generosity and ministry will help your people see how their giving truly makes a difference.

Year-End Giving GuideTo help you in your mission to encourage generosity, the Generis team has created a new e-book called “The Year-End Giving Guide” available as a free download for you.

This resource serves as a pathway to design and implement an excellent year-end giving project that will leave you excited and prepared.

In addition to several practical helps throughout this newly updated 42-page resource, this e-book will also:

  • position your church as the best year-end giving option
  • help you create a natural on-ramp for first-time givers
  • list the 10 elements of a year-end giving project
  • deliver a sample impact report
  • and much more!

Download your copy today, and encourage year-end generosity in your church in a way that will provide results that surpasses increased giving, but reaches the hearts of your people.


New Resource: Understanding and Engaging Your Givers

Count on it: your givers and potential givers are not all alike. In fact, they break down into at least four kinds of givers.

increase giving e-bookThe Generis team has just released a new resource designed to help pastors in churches across the country increase giving – with all four types of givers.

This new, 26-page e-book will share with you the differences between each of the different types of givers, as well as what you can do to bridge the gap between funding and vision.

This new resource will:

  • help you identify the different givers in your ministry
  • give best practices to engage different types of givers
  • encourage and equip your discipleship efforts
  • and much more!

The more you recognize different types of givers and meet them at their level of need and expectation, the stronger your culture of generosity can become.

This guide, available to you now as a free download, was designed to equip you with the knowledge Generis has gained through 3,000+ successful capital campaigns. This e-book provides you with a practical tool to help fund your church into its next phase of ministry expansion.


Looking for more resources like this one? Check my resources page for more great material!

Looking for more information or personal assistance? Let me know. I’d love to help you and your church fund its God-sized vision!

Pastor, what would best help you encourage generosity?

I did something a couple years ago that was super helpful to me and to the churches I serve. I asked for feedback. I asked for input. I asked the church leaders in the trenches day in and day out what they needed most in the realm of generosity.

communicationkidThat feedback led to several practical blog posts about creating a culture of generosity, preaching on generosity, and how to talk about it outside the offering moment. (Great stuff – thank you for requesting it!)

It also led to the creation of several e-books about giving technology, communicating to impact giving, and the importance of recurring giving.

And now it’s time to circle back and ask again:
What do you need, want, and desire most to help you and your team impact the generosity of your people to fulfill the God-sized vision of your church?

As is always my focus, I want to make sure I’m providing you what you need – not just what I think you need. So I would love to give you an opportunity to share with me exactly how I can best help you.

Please take five minutes to answer a few quick questions for me. I’ve put together a short survey (yes, it’s short – I promise!) to allow a quick and easy way to speak into what’s coming in the near future.

Now is the time. The floor is yours.

I look forward to hearing what you have to say.




Charitable Giving Outlook for 2016 Appears Weak

Generosity has reached record-setting levels, making 2015 “America’s most generous year ever,” according to Giving USA in a report they published just last week.

charitable givingAn estimated $373.25 billion in charitable giving came from individuals, estates, foundations, and corporations last year, growing donations by 4.1% over the previous year. Giving USA marks this as a new record for the second year in a row.

As for donations categorized as religious giving, numbers were up 2.7% over the previous year, accounting for $119.30 billion in gifts and 32% of total giving.

That’s the good news.

This small percentage of growth, however, shows us religious giving is losing ground when compared to other categories of giving that are growing at a higher rate.

What’s Coming Next?
Looking at the 2016 predictions, The Atlas of Giving is calling this year a potentially “perfect storm” for charitable giving.

Engaging New Givers: An Interview with the Kindrid Smart Giving Team

Do you know about the 80/20 rule? In almost every scenario, 80% is accounted for by the 20%. That means that, in most churches, 80% of gifts are given by 20% of people.

smart givingKindrid Smart Giving wants to flip that paradigm on its head and help you equip 100% of your church to give—and to do it with one text, tap, or click.

Are you consistently engaging new givers? Can your givers give within seconds? Do your givers need to sign in to give? Are there multiple ways your givers can give?

If you answered no to any of these questions, I encourage you to lean in on a conversation I had with the Kindrid team.

Q: We talk quite a bit about accelerating generosity on my blog. How can a service like Kindrid encourage generosity within the church? 

A: By using technology designed to engage new givers, we can actually increase the total amount that’s given. We’re not just redirecting gifts. We’re not just taking people who would have given by check or would have given by cash and asking them to give another way. Instead, we’re actually equipping people who would not have given otherwise to give.

We started Kindrid because we know that generosity isn’t zero sum, that it can always increase and only needs to be unleashed. The key to doing so is by engaging new givers with a simple, joyful giving experience. That’s what we do with Smart Giving.

Our prayer and goal is to equip 100% of people to give. We believe that will fundamentally transform the Church and make it known for generosity.

Q: How does Smart Giving make it easy for a first-time giver to be generous? 

A: With Smart Giving, it only takes 30 seconds to register to give. After that, it’s as quick and simple as sending one text. Once you’ve registered, you don’t need to log in or even leave your text message to give. Smart Giving opens up three new ways to give—text, online, and in-app—for a harmonized giving experience. That means churches who use Smart Giving have three new avenues to increase generosity!

A Simple Solution to the Church’s Summer Giving Slump

It’s a well-known and common giving metric. Warm months of summer vacations and other family plans cause a trend of lower church attendance.

And when people are absent, their giving usually is too. Here’s what annual church giving typically looks like from a big picture perspective:

annual church giving






Does your church’s giving look like this?
If so, please know there’s good news.
#1 – It doesn’t have to be this way.
#2 – There are steps you can take to counteract this trend (and they’re easy)!

Recurring Giving E-Book

You can fight the summer giving slump by promoting recurring giving with the help of a new and practical 12-page resource designed with that very purpose in mind.

This step-by-step guide is an easy and quick read that will help you better understand the impact that increased recurring giving can have for your church, your people, and your ministry.

5 Things People Need to Know Before they will Give

Your people have questions. And they’re not just about the next children’s ministry event or where to take their canned goods for the food pantry. They have questions about giving – big questions about why they should give and what happens to their money when they give.

people need to knowAs their pastor, it’s your responsibility to make sure they have  answers to these questions. This is an opportunity for you to make sure your people are being guided and encouraged on their generosity journey, all while making sure your God-sized vision for ministry is being funded.

So here are 5 questions your people are likely asking, based on 5 things people need to know before they will give. (Trust me – most of your people are asking at least one of these questions!)

The news is unfortunately frequent with stories of improper use of charitable gifts – the Wounded Warriors Project being the most recent example. People want to give where they know their gifts will be stewarded well. Be transparent. Work to build integrity and trust in your personal leadership, and in those in positions of leadership. Communicate well, and often.

Follow through. Do what you say you are going to do. Don’t ask people to do something you yourself are not doing. (Be an example.) People give to those they can believe in and trust. How have you shown your church is trustworthy in the last six months?

Givers give when the mission of the organization aligns with their passions. Most people aren’t as motivated by need; they give to vision. It’s not about the money, but what the money will accomplish. It’s not about facilities, but the ministry the facilities allow.

Can Your People Afford to Give?

Can your people afford to give? Can they afford not to? Here’s the current reality: Nearly half of Americans would have trouble finding $400 to pay for an emergency.

Pastors Fund Visions

That statement caught my eye in a personal and revealing article called “The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans“ that recently appeared in the Atlantic. And as a ministry leader, this should sound a huge wake up call.

In this article, which is lengthy but definitely worth the read, the author admits his dismal failure in managing his own personal finances. He takes us on a very raw and personal journey through his trials of financial management on which we soon learn that, while his outside appearance reflected a financially secure lifestyle, behind the curtain hid the true realities of living paycheck to paycheck. And he’s one of almost half of all Americans.

Statistics shared include:

  • When asked how they would respond to a $400 emergency, 47 percent of respondents said that either they would cover the expense by borrowing or selling something, or they would not be able to come up with the $400 at all. (Federal Reserve Board survey)
  • Only 38 percent of Americans would cover a $1,000 emergency-room visit or $500 car repair with money they’d saved. (Bankrate survey, 2104)
  • A total of 55 percent of households don’t have enough liquid savings to replace a month’s worth of lost income. (Pew Charitable Trusts, 2015)
  • Of 56 percent of people who said they’d worried about their finances in the previous year, 71 percent were concerned about having enough money to cover everyday expenses. (Pew Charitable Trusts, 2015)
  • The American Psychological Association conducts a yearly survey on stress in the United States. The 2014 survey—in which 54 percent of Americans said they had just enough or not enough money each month to meet their expenses—found money to be the country’s number one stressor. Seventy-two percent of adults reported feeling stressed about money at least some of the time, and nearly a quarter rated their stress “extreme.”

The Ultimate Church Capital Campaign Guide Now Available

With experience leading over 3,000 capital campaigns and generosity initiatives, the Generis team has learned a thing or two about funding ministry. Now you can benefit from that knowledge – through the Ultimate Church Capital Campaign Guide.

Church Capital Campaign GuideCampaigns can be approached from many angles and with differing attitudes – excitement, optimism, hope, caution, hesitation, and even skepticism. Some church leaders have previous experience funding projects and ministry that influences those ideas and attitudes, while others are looking for a new, fresh approach altogether. And let’s not forget that many pastors don’t like talking about money (and many of their people don’t want to hear the pastor talk about money).

Whatever your perceptions around capital campaigns, this new guide (now available to you as a free download) will provide you with a wealth of information, including whether your plan is on track, should be delayed, is wise, or is unwise. It will answer some questions you don’t even realize you have!

This 69-page resource covers topics like:

  • common campaign mistakes
  • the role of the pastor
  • developing major gifts
  • a campaign’s spiritual impact
  • the importance of prayer
  • the time needed to implement a successful effort

A church campaign should be transformational, not transactional. This e-book will explain how a capital campaign can actually affect heart-level change and further disciple your people in the area of generosity.

This guide was designed to equip you with the knowledge Generis has gained through 3,000+ successful capital campaigns while providing a tool to help you fund your church into its next phase of ministry expansion.


Looking for more resources like this one? Check my resources page for more great material!

Looking for more information or personal assistance? Let me know. I’d love to help you and your church fund its God-sized vision!