8 Action Steps to Address Giving During COVID-19

Generosity // March 17, 2020

During this season of uncertainty and rapidly changing recommendations, we at Generis are carefully monitoring factors which will impact giving within your ministry. Here are 8 action steps to address giving during COVID-19.

I am offering free virtual coaching time to any of you who have questions, desire knowledge around best practices, and/or have a unique situation that you need help navigating. CLICK HERE to schedule a call.

Every church and faith-based non-profit is unique. Our situations, while similar, are not identical. We want to serve our clients and potential clients with the utmost care. To that end, I will offer some recommendations here, and as the Generis team creates resources specifically for this season, I will share them with you.

My colleague Dave Travis has written an excellent resource as we are learning to navigate the impact of the corona virus outbreak. You will want to review his 11 Ideas to Consider in Response to COVID-19. 

His 8th idea regards giving. With only one exception, every client I serve had already moved to virtual worship services last weekend. Unlike a single weekend of missed services due to a winter snowstorm, we are probably going to experience several weeks of having to forego on campus worship. 

Based on that, what should we be doing to shore up giving in this season?

Giving Will Likely Decline

First, recognize that giving will most likely go down while in-person services are cancelled. (What was your experience last weekend?) Plan for it. This is especially true if you move through these next few weeks as if nothing is out of the ordinary when it comes to giving. But you don’t have to resolve to that potential reality – take action.

What To Do Now

Here are 8 action steps to address giving during COVID-19:

    1. Prepare and send a letter and/or email to address the issue. We have drafted a letter you can revise for your use. To keep the length of this post from getting too long, just request the letter HERE and I will forward it to you immediately.
    2. Over communicate. Consider adding additional emails and videos to your weekly communication rhythms. The more people know, the better. We fear the unknown. Provide regular updates, share an encouraging word, offer scripture appropriate to the day, link people to online devotional resources.
    3. Share stories of how you are helping individuals, families, and your community through this time. Say “Thank you for giving. This story was made possible through your generosity”. In the last 2 days I’ve seen a couple of great examples:
      1. A church has transformed their multi-purpose building into a community food pantry. Volunteers are staffing the facility, people are dropping off supplies at the curb, and needs are fulfilled as others drive to the church for assistance.
      2. Locally a church has started a shopping ministry for the elderly and those with compromised immunity. Those needing assistance reach out to the church via phone or email, provide the shopping list, and volunteers do the shopping for them, delivering to the recipient’s door.
    4. Remind everyone that expanding ministry during this time is possible only through continued generous giving.
    5. Record a short video showing how to setup and use your online giving platform. Send that video out multiple times over the next couple of weeks. You could do it this way:
      1. Make a gift online. 
      2. Take a screenshot of the screen showing your gift confirmation.
      3. Blank out the amount of your gift. (Simple photo editing technique. Click here for instructions Mac or PC.
      4. Use the screenshot as an image in your email/blog post with this text:
        1. “I just completed an online gift to First Church. Let me encourage you to do the same, as we remain faithful to worship in this way while we are meeting virtually these next few weeks.”
        2. If you are unsure how to setup and use online giving, I’ve recorded a short video showing how easy it is. Click this link…
    6. Pre-record offering moments with giving options mentioned above & have that play a few times during the week at key moments via communication channels. Here is a previous post containing ideas on what makes a good offering introduction.
    7. Prepare your quarterly contribution summary and send it out earlier than normal, along with self-addressed giving envelopes, so that those who prefer to give by check can respond sooner than later. Let them know envelopes are included to help your worship to God by making giving more readily accessible.
    8. Recognize new online givers. You are likely to have guests worshipping with you online. Many will choose to give electronically. While they may not be new to giving, this marks their first time giving digitally. PAY ATTENTION TO THIS DETAIL. Create a response that affirms their giving and encourages them to automate their giving this way. We accelerate what we celebrate. This will also likely stick beyond this season for higher e-giving participation.

Have A Contingency Plan

It is always wise to have a contingency budget in place. Today it is vital. Take the time to prepare a budget assuming a 10, 20, even 30% drop in revenue. What are the essentials that must be funded? What are those things that we can reduce if needed? Preparing one or more contingency budgets now doesn’t mean you’re going to have to implement drastic cuts. But if things do get worse before they get better, you will already have your contingency plans in place. Better to do this now before any pressure mounts, rather than waiting and having to try and write that budget in the midst of more turbulent times.

We at Generis continue to develop resources to help you navigate these next few weeks. I’ll forward those to you as they become available. 

Philippians 4:6-7

*My thanks to colleagues Jim Sheppard and Dave Lopez for contributing content to this post.

About Rusty Lewis

As a church leader, there’s nothing more frustrating than not having the funding to do what God’s calling you to do. But when you think about trying to address that problem, you feel overwhelmed, you dread the potential pushback from your congregation, and you’re not sure where to turn for help. Over the last 18 years, I’ve helped more than 120 churches close the gap between their current financial reality and what they need to move forward in ministry.

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