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!)

ALERT: Act Fast for IRA Charitable Rollovers in 2015

Great news! The President made permanent the IRA charitable rollover as part of the latest tax bill signed late last week. But…

YOU MUST ACT FAST! To leverage the tax benefits in 2015, the IRA rollover must be transferred by December 31!

church givingThe IRA charitable rollover allows individuals age 70 ½ or older to make a rollover gift of up to $100,000 from their IRA to one or more qualifying charitable organizations. Charitable deductions are limited to 50% of a taxpayer’s adjusted gross income for a calendar (tax) year. Taxpayers that make significant charitable gifts will benefit from the rollover because this gift is excluded from the charitable deduction percentage limit.

Donations are excluded from the taxpayer’s income and will count as part of the IRA owner’s required annual withdrawal. The rollover must be distributed directly from the IRA custodian to the designated non-profit. (Rollover contributions are limited to specific qualifying charities – churches are eligible to receive these gifts.)

Here are the details you need to share with those in the qualifying age bracket:

  • The provision allows someone over 70 1/2 years of age to donate up to $100,000 of their IRA assets to a charitable organization.
  • The donor’s contribution can satisfy the required minimum distribution for the year and does not have to be counted as taxable income.
  • Those who qualify to make this gift need to seek counsel from their tax attorney or licensed financial planner for the details.

The Impact of an Effective Annual Giving Statement

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.

mailing statementElevating 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.

WEEKEND COMMUNICATION
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?
Annual Statements E-Book
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.

GET MY FREE COPY

 

30% of All Giving Occurs in December

Did you know 30% of all charitable giving occurs in the month of December?

Even more shocking is this statistic – 10% 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 2013 online giving. (view infographic online)

year-end giving

Many of your givers often plan to make that year-end gift on the very last Sunday of the year. This year that Sunday falls on December 28, while your people may still be out of town enjoying Christmas with relatives.

Year-End Giving Plans At Church

Many of your givers plan on making that year-end gift on the very last Sunday of the year. What many haven’t thought of this year, however, is that they may not be in one of your worship services that weekend due to holiday travel or other reasons.

year-end church giving

I anticipate there will be several who drive to your church office during that last week of the year to give that last gift in time for the 2011 tax deduction. What should you be doing to prepare for this?