Three Steps to Ensure a Successful Year-End Giving Appeal

In 2016, people gave $390 billion to charitable organizations, a record level for the third year in a row. According to the most recent data available, online giving is growing at more than four times the pace of overall giving, and data shows 31% of online contributions occur in December—with 12% happening during the last three days of the year.

person holding christmas lights

There’s no doubt that the month of December is a valuable opportunity for you to encourage and equip your congregation to participate financially in your ministry. Follow these steps to ensure a successful year-end giving appeal.

Important Dates for Year-End Giving

Year-end giving is a big deal. According to recent data, 31% of annual charitable giving occurs in December, with 12% of donations given during the last three days of the year. Why is that? Surely it’s because of your inspired preaching during the Advent season, right? Of course it is. 

Year-End Giving Calendar

However, it may also have something to do with a date far into the future—April 15, Tax Day. That’s right: In addition to being motivated by compassion and the “holiday spirit,” many of us want to maximize our charitable contributions before the year runs out.

As you plan your year-end giving strategy, be sure to communicate these important dates:

Engaging Millennial Givers

As the proud father of two young adults, I might have a slightly biased opinion, but I think Millennials, people born between 1981 and 1998, have gotten a bad rap. Now the largest living generation, Millennials have been pegged as entitled, lazy, insubordinate, selfish coffee snobs whose face-to-face social skills have been completely wrecked by texting and social media.

Millennial drinking coffee

While there’s at least a drop of truth in that description—as is the case with most stereotypes—I’d like to suggest an alternate descriptor: Millennials are misunderstood. And that’s particularly the case when it comes to the idea that they’re selfish. The truth is, Millennials are exceptionally generous with both their time and financial resources. Dollar for dollar, they may not be giving “as much” as older generations; however, as a percentage of total income, their giving is on par with that of Baby Boomers.

“But Rusty,” you might be thinking, “My church is full of Millennials, and they’re not giving.” First of all, congratulations on having a church full of Millennials. Given that 32% of adults under age 30 have no religious affiliation, you must be doing many things well. And my guess is the Millennials at your church are giving—somewhere else. If they aren’t yet contributing financially to your church, that may say less about them, as Millennials, than it does about your church’s generosity culture.

Maintaining Momentum in the Fulfillment Phase

The months leading up to a generosity initiative can feel exhausting. Given the number of decisions to be made, conversations to have, and plans to implement, it’s natural to reach Commitment Weekend and think, “Whew! We’re finally at the finish line!”

dakota-roos-1311

I hate to break it to you, but Commitment Weekend is more like the end of the third lap. To finish well, you’ll need to turn your attention to the last—and critical—phase of your initiation: the Giving Season or Fulfillment Phase. Implemented well, you’ll receive 92% or more of your commitments. Done poorly or neglected? Your people will meet as little as 50% of their pledges.

FOUR TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL FULFILLMENT PHASE

Maintaining momentum during a generosity initiative isn’t difficult, but it does require some intentionality.

Accelerating Year-End Giving at Your Church

Did October sneak up on you, too? It seems like just yesterday you were powering through Vacation Bible School, and now—suddenly—it’s only 10 weeks until Christmas. (Did your blood pressure go up a bit just now?)

Year-End Giving Guide

Along with the stress of planning for the Christmas season, many church leaders feel some anxiety about what comes after Christmas: the end of the fiscal year. There isn’t much time left to meet projected budgets. How will you leverage the remaining weeks of 2017 to accelerate generosity in your church?

Year-End Giving Guide

Church Communication Help

Successful churches have several things in common. Among other qualities, they tend to have a generous culture, they’re more concerned with reaching new folks than they are about keeping the ones they already have, and they’re relationship-oriented. And in my experience, effective, growing churches tend to have great communication.

Church Communications

The field of church communications is relatively new, but more and more churches are beginning to realize how important it is to have coordinated, consistent messaging. And so, many pastors are making the great decision to bring on a staff person to do that work.

The trouble is, the world of church communications is complex and requires significant skill in multiple areas: social media, websites, graphic design, storytelling, project management, writing and editing, technology, and more. For a new church communicator, that can be overwhelming.

Fortunately, there are several resources available to new church communicators, including a new one from the Center for Church Communication called Courageous Storytellers.

Culture Conference

Culture is the vehicle that makes vision a reality. But developing the right culture is difficult.

On September 21, Generis and Vanderbloemen Search Group are teaming up to bring you Culture Conference, a free online church conference designed to help you build the kind of culture that will grow your church.

Thirteen speakers—including Louie Giglio, Carey Nieuwhof, Thom Rainer, Jenni Catron, and Sam Collier—will be offering practical talks to help you:

  • build thriving teams,
  • cultivate inspiring workplaces, and
  • transform your community with the love of Jesus.

Tune in on September 21 at 2 pm EST for this free–but exceedingly valuable—conference. Register today.

Culture Conference

Five Reasons NOT to Launch a Traditional Church Capital Campaign

Congratulations! Your church is in a season of growth! But as a Lead Pastor or Executive Pastor, you’re aware of some space-related “choke points” developing that will hinder future growth if they’re not addressed. You may have a lack of seats
 in the worship center, not enough space in the children’s ministry area, or a run-down student ministry center with outdated technology.

church capital campaign

As you’re recognizing the need to address these issues, you’re also recognizing the need for additional resources to fund the growth. Before long, the talk will likely turn to planning and implementing a major giving campaign of some kind.

But what should be the approach for your church? Is a traditional “over and above” type capital campaign the ideal solution? Are there other options that might provide the needed funding, while at the same time addressing other general stewardship and generosity issues that likely exist in your church?

ONE FUND INITIATIVES

There is an alternative approach to a traditional capital campaign, and it’s called a One Fund initiative. Rather than asking people to commit to a gift in order to fund a project (or projects) that is “over and above” their regular giving to the church, a One Fund asks people to consider their total giving to the church.

A One Fund asks three questions:
1. Where are you on the journey of giving back to God?
2. Where does God want you to be on that journey?
3. What would it look like to move in faith to that place God desires for you?

More specifically, in a traditional campaign:

  • The focus is project-centric or church-centric.
  • The purpose of the campaign revolves around the need of the church to receive money to fund a project.
  • We ask people to consider their relationship with the church.
  • We direct attention to what the church wants from givers.

By comparison, in a One Fund initiative:

  • The focus is giver-centric.
  • The purpose of the campaign is the need of a Christ-follower to be generous.
  • We ask people to consider their relationship with God.
  • We direct attention to what the church and God want for givers.

Why You Should Consider Phasing Your Next Building Project

It doesn’t occur often, but occasionally I run across an article, webinar, or blog post with content so good I am eager to share it with you and expand upon it. Such is the case with a recent post from Tim Cool at eSpace, called “If It’s Phase-able, It’s Feasible.” I’ve known Tim for almost 15 years now, and have high respect for the work he does for ministries around the country.

church buildingTim and I share a common frustration – seeing a set of well-intentioned church building plans sitting on a desk in the office that will never be built. Why? Because the church simply cannot afford to build what was designed.

How does this happen and, more importantly, what can you do to avoid making these same mistakes that lead to a similarly expensive and ineffective result? Let’s get to that in a moment. But first, some important background information.

HOW IT USED TO BE
Twenty-five years ago or more, it was fairly common that a church with a need to take on a construction project would do a three-year capital campaign to support it. As a result, the church building was built, being funded by the campaign, and the church incurred little to no long-term debt. Results in capital campaigns in those days averaged returns of approximately two times the annual income of the church.

TODAY’S CAMPAIGNS
Today, results in capital campaigns continue to return approximately two times the annual income of the church. However, that same church building project may require multiple campaigns and/or significant long-term debt to fund the project.

So what has changed? We raise the same multiple of income today as we did then. Church buildings built then were regularly funded with one campaign with little to no long-term debt, but today multiple campaigns and/or long term debt are required to build.

The Time is Now: 3 Steps to Avoid the Summer Giving Slump

Most churches across America have one thing in common during the summer months – other than hosting VBS or various camps for kids who are enjoying being out of school. I’m referring to the typical “summer slump” in giving.

online givingPeople enjoy making family plans and taking vacations during the warm summer months. But when people are absent from church, their giving is usually absent, too. Fortunately, there is a relatively simple fix to curb this summer slump (plus a super-handy and practical download to walk you through it).

And the time to start is now – to give your people ample time before summer is upon us.

So let’s get right to it! Here are three steps you can take now to avoid a summer giving slump:

Please note: In these three steps I’m assuming you have an online giving portal in place through your website. If not, you need to read this blog post first to understand the importance of having online giving, and then, the importance of being mobile. If you already have online giving in place, please continue reading… 

1. SET UP RECURRING GIVING YOURSELF
(AND ASK YOUR STAFF TO DO THE SAME)
First of all, you’ll need to do this yourself because you’ll be explaining it to your people. Having gone through the set up will also help you tell how easy it was to do, while you challenge your people to do the same. And you wouldn’t ask your people to do something you and your staff haven’t done. Most importantly, this allows you to be the leader. Remember: generous churches are led by generous pastors.

2. SET TWO MEASURABLE GOALS
You may have heard the Peter Drucker quote, “you can’t manage what you don’t measure.” Well, this statement rings true in the case of giving, too. If you want to see success in this area, you will need to first determine what success looks like for you and your church. So take a moment and set some specific goals for your giving. Make sure they are measurable and achievable – nothing too far out of reach, but something you can celebrate as a church in the near future.