It’s January. Another year has passed, and a new one has begun. And for many pastors and financial church leaders, that means it’s time to prepare the (often dreaded) annual giving statements. You find yourself trying to make the somewhat daunting process more efficient every year, don’t you? But what if you focused this year on making them more effective instead?
Are your annual statements effective? By that, I mean do they encourage the future generosity of the giver?
Many churches send an official, transactional-looking statement each January to those who have given the previous year. In fact, we’ve talked about this before. I get it – it meets the IRS requirement, right? (And you would be right.)
But consider this:
“Giving statements are not an exercise in efficiency… our end goal is effective and meaningful communication with the giver,” my Generis colleague Brad Leeper says in his new e-book.
You’ve heard me talk about “connecting the dots” for your church – helping your people see how their giving is making a difference in other people’s lives.
Because many people tend to think of giving only as a means to fund a budget, helping them connect the dots to ministry impact is critical! In fact, it encourages them to continue giving. It shows them the fruits of their efforts, that their generosity is hard at work making a difference.
I thought you would value seeing a video from one of my clients in the St. Louis area. They created this video as part of a series of videos they are showing as part of their one-year anniversary for their One Fund initiative. Wisely, they are intentionally playing the clip just prior to the offering time during the service. While it’s a bit longer than I would typically recommend, what a great way to connect the dots between giving and progress, between generosity and making a difference!
Looking for an in-depth look at how you can design communication to impact giving? Check out my e-book called Generosity Speaks!
It happens every weekend. Well, I’m guessing you at least pray for it to happen every weekend. A family who has never been to your church walks in the front door. You identify them by the “I’m-not-sure-where-to-go” confusion on their faces. Your friendly greeter welcome them. You introduce yourself and thank them for coming. You offer them directions to the children’s ministry for the kiddos. You encourage them to get free coffee in the guest area.
We’ve become very good at this part. It’s almost natural, isn’t it? Offering a bit of warmth and hospitality just feels good!
Did you ever get one of those tee shirts from your parents after their amazing vacation trip to Hawaii? Well, I had that same kind of feeling after opening my mail early this year.
It was the feeling of “I gave to your ministry and all I got was this lousy statement.”
Yes, the IRS requires churches and other nonprofit organizations to provide a statement of giving to its donors each year.
But your giving statement doesn’t have to look like it came from the pages of a legal handbook. Quite the contrary, this is yet another opportunity to connect giving to ministry impact!
In my last post I wrote about why you should consider a video blog. Now let’s consider some best practices to get your new blog started on the right foot.
Use a Sidebar - I was watching some highlights of the Sochi Winter Olympics on ESPN’s Sports Center last night. There is something I love about their show.
It’s on the side of the screen – the sidebar showing the list of topics they are discussing next. As I watch, I realize that’s what, at least partially, keeps me interested and tuned in.
It’s knowing what is coming up next. So I keep watching. (OK – I’ll admit it – it also lets me know when I have a moment to run to the kitchen for a quick snack!)
Sometimes some pastors do some things better than other pastors. In this particular case, lead pastor of Morning Star Church, Mike Schreiner hits a home run with his weekly video blog.
To bolster this idea, a recent ChurchMag post also explains clearly why communicating via video is successful. So I don’t doubt the success Pastor Mike has with his video blog.
Every Thursday, each member who signed up for the video blog subscription gets an e-mail notification of the video that plays straight from the church website.
Now that you have all the numbers crunched, the photos gathered, and the stories compiled, you can make a big fat check mark on your to-do list and take a nice deep breath… your annual report is finished!
Or is it?
What you have in your hands is a compilation of some of the greatest successes of your ministry over the last twelve months.
That’s far too important to set on top of that pile of papers on your desk you’ve been meaning to get to for the last year and a half.
An annual report is something I have recommended to you before. As we start another year together this topic is important enough to revisit. The question usually goes something like this… “Why put the time and effort into gathering a bunch of details for another report?”
A church’s annual report is not created with the intention of simply providing an overview of financials and numbers (though that’s what most are providing in their reports – if they are doing one at all).
Although those are key elements that should be included in the report, one of the main purposes behind the report is to reflect on the church’s success in accomplishing it’s mission, and how one’s generosity is part of that success.
I am amazed at the number of churches who do not implement a stunningly simple and extremely effective step to accelerate generosity at the end of the calendar year. Time and time again, through my work conducting a Generosity Audit with the church, I discover the lack of frequency with which the church distributes giving statements.
Most of the time, only one is sent per year, and that just to satisfy the IRS. It usually contains a ‘statement’, with nothing else in the envelope, mailed in January.
Here’s what I recommend you start doing, immediately!
This is the final in a three-part post on Eliminating Generosity Obstacles through effective online giving.
The previous two posts can be found here:
Part of the local church’s work is to help Christ followers identify and eliminate barriers on our transformational journey. And sometimes, the church inadvertently creates those obstacles, many of them in the area of generosity.