As a church leader, you probably wish you had more money to do more ministry. But your church’s financial bandwidth is tied to your congregation’s financial generosity—and that can be frustrating. How can you encourage people to trust God and give more?
Some of the strategies for improving your generosity culture have to do with discipleship. Many others, though, come down to improving communication. So today I’m beginning a series of practical posts to help you avoid (or fix) the most common mistakes within the church generosity landscape. The list of six mistakes we’ll be discussing is a result of dozens of generosity audits I’ve conducted with churches all around the country. You can learn from these mistakes!
More than 18% of all giving occurs in December, making it the most charitable month of the year. Last year, 23% of online giving to church happened in December. Let’s leverage those statistics to your advantage and increase your year-end giving.
To have a successful year-end giving appeal:
- Prepare an email to your entire database using the formula below.
- Schedule the email for Friday, December 28 or Saturday, December 29.
- If you do a special Christmas Eve offering, send this email anyway. You won’t have 100% attendance on Christmas Eve, and some people who celebrate with you that day will give again.
Many churches are uncertain about sending multiple giving statements throughout the year. Some are unsure about how often to send them. Others choose to not send them because of the cost involved or because they don’t want to burden their administrative staff. Most simply don’t see giving statements as effective—and that’s usually because they focus on the statement itself, rather than on the cover letter.
Here’s the truth: Giving statements are a critical communication channel—particularly at this time of year.
As church participation continues to decline, even the most optimistic, faith-fueled pastors are taking notice. In the midst of discouraging attendance trends, it’s essential that church leaders keep a cool head—and a prayerful heart. God’s church is designed to win, after all, so we needn’t get overly worked up over data points. Still, facts are our friends, and they can help us know how to best direct our energy, attention, and innovation to continue reaching new people with the gospel message. That’s particularly true when it comes to giving trends.
For most churches, summer vacations bring a dreaded trend: Attendance wavers more than usual and giving declines. And with the exception of the most mature givers, people simply don’t make up that giving when they return. The result? We lose valuable ministry revenue. Fortunately, you can take five very simple steps to counteract the summer giving slump.
As church leaders, we like our numbers, don’t we? One of the first questions we ask one another is, “How many people attend your church?” We love learning how many people came to our Christmas and Easter gatherings. We get excited when a long-planned community event is well-attended. We know it’s not all about numbers, but we also know those numbers represent something meaningful: individual lives impacted by Jesus Christ.
While we’re happy to talk about attendance numbers, we’re not always as interested in talking about financial data—until there’s a specific reason to do so. We typically do a quick review of income and expenses at a board meeting, but beyond that we tend to talk about our church finances the most when our giving is down, when we may not meet our budget, or when we need to inspire significant generosity for a specific project.
As 2017 came to a close, one topic seemed to dominate the headlines: tax reform. As news of sweeping changes made its way from Capitol Hill to Facebook, assumptions were touted as truth, and opinions spawned heated arguments.
Personally, I began receiving emails from concerned clergy: How will tax reform affect people’s giving to my church? While we don’t really know for sure, let’s explore some details that may inform how you approach the conversation with your congregation.
I’ve partnered with churches for more than 15 years, and I’ve learned a lot about what it takes for a church to disciple people well and make a difference in their community. Without a doubt, church communicators play a significant role in their church’s effectiveness.
As I’ve met with communications directors around the country, I’m consistently struck by how challenging their responsibilities are. Kelley Hartnett, a church communicator with whom I first became acquainted through my work with Morning Star Church near St. Louis, Mo., understands—first hand—how demanding the work can be. Her recently released book, You’ve Got This: A Pep Talk for Church Communicators, offers her tribe some much-needed encouragement and practical insight.
A study from Boston College Center on Wealth and Philanthropy projects that charities are forecast to receive more than $6 trillion from final estates between 2007 and 2061. This is great news for your ministry. If, that is, your church is among those charities. But because legacy giving—a present decision to make a future gift—is rarely discussed in American churches, it’s likely not.
Few things are as frustrating as a ministry with a God-inspired vision that is prevented from fulfilling that vision due to lack of funding. Legacy giving is an important tool that better equips the local church to fully resource the mission and ministry that God has given you to impact your community. To help pastors begin or strengthen their legacy giving strategy, I’ve written a new eBook, Establishing a Culture of Legacy Giving in Your Church.