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.

TAKE THE SURVEY

Blessings,
Rusty

 

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!)

1. CAN I TRUST YOU?
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?

2. WHAT’S THE VISION?
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.

DOWNLOAD GUIDE

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!

 

Is Your Church’s Annual Report Appealing?

The topic of an annual report isn’t a new one for my blog. We’ve talked about it before (and even before that). But I want to talk today about something I haven’t hit on all that much before – the appearance of your church’s annual report.

annual reportTo many lead pastors, executive pastors, and business administrators, this may sound odd. But it’s important to see your annual report through the eyes of your givers.

I’ve said it before, and it may sound cliche, but it’s the truth. Photos and videos evoke heart-level emotion. And that’s right where you need to be. More importantly, when people see an annual report that is visually appealing and intriguing, they’re much more likely to read it and much less likely to discard it.

We learn best from real life examples, so let’s take a quick look at a before-and-after annual report makeover. Here’s what a client church recently compiled to send out as a year-in-review annual report (after I redacted church and pastor names):

Microsoft Word - 2015 year end_02_03_16 no church identifiers fo

Now THAT’S How a Church Says Thank You!

In a blog post last month we talked about the importance of celebrating your church’s generosity. Just a few days later, I received a thank you note after giving to a church for the first time.

After receiving that, I wanted to share a few ideas with you to help illustrate the power behind your church saying thank you. Those two simple words can stir emotion and encourage future behavior at the same time. Here’s how it worked for me:

Thank you cardI immediately felt valued.
When I saw the card in the mail and soon read its message, I immediately felt valued. I knew someone there took the time to say thank you for the gift I gave that day. I felt I mattered to the church and its leaders.

The address on the envelope was handwritten – someone took the extra, personalized step and made an investment of time, as I’ve mentioned before. Instead of allowing their automated post-online-giving email message to suffice, they took the time to send me a card, so I knew I was valued in their eyes.

I learned the gift was appreciated.
In the handwritten note inside, the pastor made mention of their church’s initiative to which I gave. Through this letter I can sense his excitement about what they can accomplish through this initiative, so I know my gift was genuinely appreciated.

It reinforced my investment choice as a wise one.
Receiving this note reinforced my decision to invest. The pastor personally thanked me for my gift, further confirming my decision to give as a wise one.

Five Keys to Our Successful Generosity Initiative

I recently had the chance to do something I really enjoy doing – talking with a pastor who just finished up a two-year generosity initiative using our One Fund approach. This particular pastor leads a growing church that has surpassed its goals, so the conversation was encouraging for us both.

pastor meetingBecause I value sharing with you what I see working in other churches across the country, I wanted to let you in on a few key points he shared with me. Whether you are considering accelerating generosity in your church in the near future, or you just need a healthy dose of encouragement today, this post is for you!

So here is Pastor Matt Miofsky giving you five keys to a successful generosity initiative, based on his experience over the last two years at The Gathering. (These stories you’re about to read are just amazing – too good not to share!) Thanks Matt for your willingness to share your journey with us!

_____

1. Prepare yourself ahead of your congregation
The winter before we launched our One Fund initiative called Chain Reaction, Rusty issued a challenge: my wife and I should go through some personal generosity introspection first, ahead of our people. And we did.

We were in the process of buying a new home at the time. When we stopped to talk about our personal levels of generosity, we soon realized we couldn’t be the generous people God was calling us to be and still move forward with the purchase of that home – at least not at that time. It would have throttled our ability to give at the generous level we sensed God challenging us to attain.

So we made a commitment. The topic of home buying was off the table for the next two years. We set a goal of doubling our tithe for Chain Reaction, and we gave more than we have ever given before. My wife and I found so much joy in being generous! It helped us be content in our home for two years. We could now talk with authenticity about what we were learning. And it equipped us to lead stronger conversations and to ask better questions.