It’s that time of year again! With the busyness of the Christmas season, we need to be preparing an effective mailing of annual giving statements for January.
Elevating the giving conversation in your church by saying thank you to your givers is huge. Don’t miss this natural moment to invest into the spiritual life of your people. It’s worth the focus and the work to demonstrate a spirit of gratitude!
As you prepare this annual communication to your givers, there are two main ideas I encourage you to consider: the mailed statement itself, and how you communicate directly to your people on the weekend. Let’s take a look at both of these to help you get this off the ground and running!
THE MAILED STATEMENT
Please don’t take lightly the content and form of this mailing. It’s not “just another mailing” – in fact, it can have a huge impact on the generosity of your church. So here are a few practical pointers:
- Type the recipient’s name on the envelope. (Avoid window envelopes with the name showing through the front. Remember this is about building relationships, not about sterile communication of a transaction.)
- Use a church envelope so the recipient quickly realizes this mailing is from you. This will increase the likelihood it will be opened right away.
- Include a statement showing the giver’s giving data for the last year.
- Include a cover letter from the senior pastor on church letterhead that exudes gratitude and shares vision. Please keep this to one page for maximum effectiveness. (This should be the first page they see when they open the mailing.)
- Use a large, colorful, first-class stamp for this mailing. Envelopes using this kind of postage are opened at a much greater rate than metered mail.
Content of the cover letter should include the following segments:
- Several statements that highlight values of your church and celebrate what actions you want more of. “We are a church that…”
- A version of your mission statement, but generally not the actual mission statement that is often written in business language rather than faith-inspiring words.
- At least two facts that demonstrate power in the ministry and value in their financial investment. “We grew by 28% in 2014. We baptized 130 people last year.”
- One brief story of a person to personalize the ministry and mission.
- A reference to the exciting quarter or year ahead.
- An affirmation of the spiritual value in their intersected faith and finances.
- An alert to read their enclosed statement.
- A relational affirmation to conclude.
- An inspirational closing.
The week before the annual statements go out in the mail, we’ll want take two or three minutes within the worship service to alert people to watch their mail and to highlight the statement. The time around the offering is a natural place to make this work. This can be accomplished via video or live announcement.
There are several objectives in this announcement, including:
- Saying thank you to your givers.
- Normalizing the conversation of faith and finances in a small way that will help to craft the larger spiritual value of giving.
- Making the connection once again with the giver, saying, “Your giving makes an impact. You give and great things happen!”
- Telling a brief story of how your church has made a difference this week.
- Alerting people that the statements are coming soon.
- Affirming that the church financial leadership takes their work seriously. We manage funds well, honor your giving, and guard what has been entrusted with us. (If you have an annual independent audit, here is another perfect moment to remind the givers of the integrity around the church.)
- Making this moment so fun and informative that those who have yet to give are more likely to give. (It is appropriate to mention that if you have yet to invest into your church, why not start today?)
- Asking the people to open and to interact with the communication that comes this week.
LOOKING FOR MORE?
Generis has created a resource to help you surprise and delight your givers through their newest e-book called 2016 Annual Giving Statements Guide. And it’s available for your free download today!
Please use this resource to frame your work. This e-book will walk you through several important steps to engage with your givers on a new level this year. Engaging them like this opens their hearts and develops deeper roots in their church engagement.
A few years ago I wrote a blog post called “Eleven Reasons NOT to Offer Online Giving” – a rare tongue-in-cheek post meant to encourage the implementation of electronic giving solutions in churches across the country. It’s a quick and easy read if you want to revisit it. But little did I know then just how relevant that post would prove itself today.
This summer a Dunham+Company / Campbell Rinker study showed only 42% of churches in the US offer an electronic giving option. Less than half. While larger churches have an increased likelihood of having electronic giving solutions, that percentage drops to 29% in churches with fewer than 200 in attendance.
While the percentages themselves may not surprise you, another recent Campbell Rinker study showed that 70% of other (non-church) non-profit organizations offer online giving. Now there’s a discrepancy worth talking about!
What’s the difference? Non-profit organizations throughout the country (of which there are over 1.5 million currently, by the way) understand the importance of this technology. It’s really pretty simple: Non-profits employ giving technology because it works. Your people have a choice where they give, and these non-profits make it easy for the giver.
People just don’t like to talk about money. Maybe you’ve already come to that conclusion. But did you know this? More people dislike talking about money than death or politics or taxes. (Yes, you read that right!)
A survey from Wells Fargo last year revealed “nearly half of Americans say the most challenging topic to discuss with others is personal finance.”
It’s not just your church. It’s not just the people at your church. No one seems to like it!
Interestingly, although conversations about money seem to be avoided or heated, financial concerns are staying top-of-mind. Two in five people in the survey said money is the source of the most stress in their life, and one in three people said they’ve lost sleep worrying over finances.
And when you look generationally, 71% reported learning to spend and save from their parents, but only one-third of today’s parents reported teaching these principles to their children. You see, there’s a fallout happening.
How do you grow generous hearts? As a pastor you’ve probably asked yourself (and your other pastor friends) that very question. How do you accelerate generosity in your church? How do you help people take the next step in their giving journey? How do you encourage your people to live radically generous lives?
You’re not alone. The team at Generis is asking those same questions, and with more than 600 years of combined ministry and consulting experience on the team, we have a few answers to share.
With the launch of the new Generis website, you can find some of those answers while our team continues growing generous hearts toward God-inspired vision.
Giving is perhaps the best spiritual tool we have in our inventory – and often the most ignored. As a result, many church leaders find themselves in a giving rut, stuck in habits and routines that limit the generosity of their people. (We talked about those habits in my last post.)
But today I’d like to focus on the solutions. What can church leaders do when they find themselves stuck in routines that actually work against growing the generosity of their church? I’d like to propose six solutions to get you started.
1. GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION TO IMPLEMENT CHANGE. SLOWLY.
When you realize you need to make a change, the first thing to do is give yourself permission. Change things up when they need to be changed. But do it slowly. Gradually.
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.
87% of Millennials say their smartphone never leaves their side, day or night. 80% reach for their smartphone first thing each morning. 78% spend more than two hours a day on their smartphone.
The common perception that young adults love their smartphones has become statistical fact. And with the extreme percentages shown in a recent Zogby Analytics study, it seems to have become an obsession.
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!
What are your numbers? Ever been asked a question like that before?
If it’s your doctor asking, then he or she is likely inquiring about your blood pressure, cholesterol, temperature, height and weight, right? Basics that, at a glance, help to determine the state of your current health.
If your golf pro is asking, then he or she is likely inquiring about your driving distance, number of putts per round, percentage of fairways hit and percentage of greens in regulation. These are basics that help a coach know the current state of your game, and where you might want to focus for improvement in your score.
We are now witnessing the greatest transfer of wealth in history.
As reported by CNBC, a new study from Boston College Center on Wealth and Philanthropy projects that heirs, charities, and taxes will receive $59 trillion between 2007 and 2061. (Yes, that’s trillion with a T!) This is up from a 1999 projection of $41 trillion.
Charities in particular are forecast to receive more than $6 trillion of this wealth transfer, while total gifts to charity during this period are expected to be more than $27 trillion.