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.

Important and Exciting News

As valued clients, ministry partners, and friends, I’m excited to share some great news with you today. Generis will be making an announcement later this week, but because I appreciate our relationship I wanted you to hear from me first.

Generis logoLate last year, we initiated a conversation with the parent company of RSI Church Solutions, that resulted in a consolidation of both teams under the name and leadership of Generis. These are two of the most respected names in church stewardship and generosity joining forces because we believe we can serve churches better together. I value our relationship and wanted you to hear this exciting news from me first.

Here are a few of the key benefits for you and your ministry:

  • We will have a hand in creating new data tools for effective on-going analysis of giving metrics that will help your ministry more effectively nurture a growing culture of generosity. I am most excited by this aspect of this announcement.
  • One of our values is collaborative strength. With a larger team and a deeper bench, our expertise and passion to innovate will only increase.
  • With Generis and RSI combined, more churches can apply proven strategies shaped to fit their needs to make their God-given visions a reality.

Additional information will be forthcoming through the official corporate announcement and subsequent press release. In the meantime, If you have questions or would like to speak with me directly, please reach out. I would value the conversation!

email: rusty@generis.com
phone: 800.233.0561 x243

3 Common Mistakes Churches Make When Budget Planning

Working with churches in the realm of generosity, I see it quite often – common mistakes in the church budget planning process. I see these with regularity, which makes me wonder if perhaps you too have committed one or more of the three most common mistakes in your church budget planning process and not realized it. (It’s ok – not only will I share with you what these three mistakes are, I will also share some ideas on how to avoid or fix them!)

church budgets

The three mistakes listed below come straight from a recent webinar on the subject. You will want to pull it up soon to hear Jim Sheppard, one of our Principal Partners at Generis, and William Vanderbloemen of Vanderbloemen Search Group discuss these common mistakes made in the church budget planning process.

MISTAKE #1 – Operational Expense Mistakes
Regardless of church size and mission focus, there are three common line item “categories” in every church budget: people (personnel) expenses, building/facility expenses, and everything else (ministry, missions, etc.). What problems do we typically see in this area?

Churches often let the people and building/facility expense categories grow too large, at the expense of ministry and missions. The most common mistakes here are:

  1. staffing expenses that have grown larger than they should for a specific church’s model of ministry.
  2. facility costs, usually including over-sized mortgage management, on a space that is too large or was a bit too aggressive financially to construct.

If you have too much going to one or both of these categories, little is left to actually fund the mission of your ministry! For example, if you have 50% of your budget going to personnel expenses, and 40% to building/facility expenses, that only leaves 10% for everything else. And that 10% is supposed to fund all of your ministries and missions while staying within budget.)

So what portion of a church’s total budget should these categories hold? That depends largely on your individual church, but here are some benchmarks to consider:

  • Personnel
    The standard rule that has floated for years is to keep personnel expenses between 45-52% of total budget. But that isn’t appropriate for every church. It’s too much for some, and perhaps not enough for others. It depends on how you do ministry, and what resources you provide.

    • Are you a staff-driven church, or one that is more congregationally driven, leveraging a large volunteer pool?
    • What kinds of programming do you offer? A church that offers an on-site counseling center, daycare, or school might have larger personnel budgets than those that don’t have those programs on site.
    • A church that outsources some roles might have a lower total personnel expense. I am seeing more and more the outsourcing of several areas previously handled by church staff, including communications (print design, website creation and management, video production of church announcements, etc.) and finance (accounting, payroll, etc.).
    • What is too much or too little? Vanderbloemen shared that a personnel budget running lower than 40% or higher than 65% would both be numbers that might indicate need for some study and review.

31% of All Online Giving Happens in December

Did you know 31% of all online giving occurs in the month of December? 18% of total giving happens in December. And, even more shocking is this statistic – 12% of all giving occurs during the last three days of the year!

Here’s a snippet from Network for Good’s Digital Giving Index infographic recapping 2015 giving. (view infographic online)

Giving By Month

Many of your givers often want to make their year-end gift on the very last Sunday of the year. This year that Sunday falls on December 25 – Christmas Day – while your people may likely be out of town enjoying celebrations with relatives and friends. More significant - I see many churches in my area not even planning to have worship services on Christmas Day this year. (If you’re doing an online or streaming service on Christmas Day, make sure your offering moment is well prepared!)

I anticipate there will be several who will drive to your church office during the last week of the year to give that last gift in time to include it in this year’s tax deductions. (I remember doing this more than once before the convenience of online giving.)

What should you be doing to prepare for this?

This December Mistake Could Cost Your Church Thousands

I want to share a very important task with you today. This is an idea that, if you implement it by December 20, will increase giving in your church during the last two weeks of the year.

giving statementWe know a large percentage of giving happens right at the end of the year. One third of all charitable giving happens in the last 3 months of the year, and 18% comes in the month of December. Also 31% of all ONLINE giving occurs in the month of December! Do I have your attention?

So here’s a way to receive a bigger slice of the pie. I’ll get right to the point of this post, and then let you read on for the full story: prepare and send an 11-month giving statement by December 20 (earlier if possible).

I’M UNUSUAL
I’m not like most people sitting in the seats of your worship center during the weekend. I monitor giving closely. My wife and I set giving goals every year, and we strive to reach them. Giving is a priority for us.

I recall a few years back when I thought we were right on track toward our giving goal. At the end of December, I ran my usual giving report from my personal finance software. (I said I’m unusual, so here’s more proof: I actually run giving reports in my personal finance software!)

Expecting to see my giving at a particular place, I was surprised, (shocked actually) that where I THOUGHT we were for the year, and where we ACTUALLY were, didn’t match. We were significantly behind. How could that have happened? It didn’t matter – it had happened.

Fortunately it was December 30, so I was able to run a check up to the church office, and our goal was attained. (I am now in the practice of running my giving report more frequently. I don’t like last minute surprises!)

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.

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