Accelerate Generosity at Year-End

Generosity // November 14, 2011

Non-profits have recently begun their year-end appeals. Why? Because they know that the largest percentage of charitable giving occurs during the last two months of the year.

What are you doing to accelerate generosity toward your ministry in 2011? As people begin to consider how to invest the last of their charitable dollars this year, you will want to have top-of-mind position with your congregation.

To do this effectively, consider all your communication channels. E-mail news, newsletter, worship bulletin, pre-service slides, pre-offering stories and updates, video blog, and weekly e-mail communications.

Communicate the effectiveness of your ministry – tell your givers about the return on their charitable investment. Make it about life change, not about funding the budget or ending the year “in the black”. People want to know that their giving is making a difference!

There are at least three reasons why this is important:

  1. People want to know where their giving is making the greatest difference. Don’t assume they know – tell them!
  2. You are competing with over 1.2 MILLION non-profits in the US today. I assure you, they will be trying to communicate with your people. For more on competition, read this.
  3. Most people have little idea where their personal giving to the church is at any given time. By sending a letter with a current year-to-date giving statement, people are reminded about their giving while they still have time to do something about it before the end of the tax year.

I strongly encourage an end of the year letter written by the pastor. Include an 11-month giving statement and send the mailing in late November. The purpose: to encourage and thank members of your church family. A letter will have a positive effect on year-end giving. What follows is an outline of suggested content. Use appropriate language for your ministry setting:

Paragraph One

  • It is ok to acknowledge these are incredibly challenging times in the life of our country (economy, unemployment, war)— but I would not use the word “difficult” in this paragraph.
  • Thank you for your faithfulness in attendance, serving, and giving this year
  • God will honor your faith and faithfulness and grow His kingdom
  • God’s blessings have never been in recession.

Paragraph Two

  • The nightly news seems to contain nothing but the bad and negative.  Let me give you some incredibly good news about your investment in God’s work through our church.
  • This paragraph ought to give an update on the positive things that have occurred this last year in your church.
  • Include some statistics that reflect changed lives—baptisms, new members, missions, etc.
  • Include stories of individual lives affected by the ministry of the church
  • Talk about ministries that have been especially effective

Paragraph Three

  • This should be a paragraph about vision and what is ahead expressed in light of the ministries of the church
  • If you are building, paying off debt, purchasing property, etc. a brief update is appropriate

Paragraph Four

  • This paragraph could be used to encourage the congregation to pray about a year-end gift.
  • Highlight your online giving page on the website (you have online giving, don’t you?)
  • It could be used to encourage new people to give to your capital campaign
  • Consider a reminder about the value of donating appreciated securities
  • You may want to remind people to catch up their giving pledges
  • This paragraph may be used to merely say thank you again
  • This paragraph may be used for a personal note

Keep the letter to 2 pages or less. There is more listed above than can be done in a single page.  Choose what is appropriate for your congregation.

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.

3 Simple Tips to Improve This Weekend’s Offering

(and one big mistake you might be making)

Check your inbox!