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.
As 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.
Last week’s post – “An Annual Giving Statement That Will Impress and Delight Your Givers”
– stressed the importance of leveraging your church annual giving statement mailing. A couple of dedicated readers and executive pastors sent questions to me after reading the article, expressing some frustration with the cost of following the eBook’s recommendations. They are larger churches. One even outsources their mailings to a professional fulfillment house. The expense to prep and send the personalized mailings via the US Post Office would be considerable.
“Are there affordable options to mailing out giving statements?”, they asked. Absolutely! And here is the suggestion, which is applicable for most any church, regardless of size.
The recommendation would be to move from mailing hard copies, to emailing. There are several advantages to this approach:
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!
“I give to places outside my church because I believe my money is used more effectively in other organizations.”
“Other nonprofits do more to solve a problem.”
“My generation wants to give to something that makes an impact.” (from a millennial)
“When it (money) goes into a ‘pot’ and I don’t know what it’s doing, I’m less likely to give. I want to give to people – it’s about visionary giving vs. needs-based giving.”
These are all real comments I’ve heard in a few recent Generosity Audit focus groups while interviewing various church attendees. These are actual quotes. (ouch!)
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.
Let’s recap. Generally speaking, pastors don’t like to talk about money. So many don’t. That seems to work out just great because most church attendees don’t want to hear about money anyway.
Except . . . money is a spiritual issue, so the church can’t exactly ignore it.
Week in and week out, churches collect an offering. That might look a bit different depending on the context—from gold-plated trays passed with usher-assisted formality to “joy boxes” at the back of the room—but the great majority of worship experiences include a time to “give back to God.”
The purpose of this letter is to encourage and thank the members of the congregation. It should be sent to everyone in your church family – not just those who have given financially during the year.
A letter of encouragement sent no later than the first week of December can only have a positive effect on year-end giving. In doing so, this gives people time to plan for a gift and/or to catch up on a capital commitment.
I strongly encourage that you enclose a copy of their 11-month contribution statements with this mailing.
What are you saying? How are you saying it? Is it being received? Are you using all the mediums available to you to reach your audience? Most likely, you are not.
Your congregation is likely to consists of a wide age range of people. Each of your generational groups prefers to receive information in different ways.
Be it Gen Y or the older population, they are more than eager to contribute to a cause that they believe and identify with.
The Chronicle of Philanthropy published interesting facts about Generation Y: People in their 20s. Encompassing data from multiple sources, the snapshots provide intriguing insight into the preferences and attitudes of the millennial.
- 93% say they prefer to receive updates from charities via email.
- 37% joined a charity’s online social network in the past month.
- 29% made their donations online in the past two years.
- 83% slept with their cell phones on or near their beds.
- 20 is the median number of text messages sent a 24-hours span.
- 21% say helping others is one of their biggest priorities.
- $341 is the average amount members of Generation Y donate annually.
- 3.6 is the average number of groups they choose to support with donations.
In the previous posts we explored the first six considerations for achieving strong results during the giving phase of your capital initiative. I refer to this giving period as Campaign Enhancement (CE).
Here are the final considerations to achieve 90% or better in your campaign fulfillment:
7. Celebrating Milestones
Take every opportunity to communicate and celebrate giving milestones – those “good news” stories that help maintain momentum through the giving phase. As much as possible, we want to keep all communication coming from a positive position.