1. Clearly articulate your church’s vision for ministry.
The dramatic increase in the number of non-profit agencies in the past several years, coupled with an increased expectation of accountability, provides more choices for donors to support. Increasingly, donors choose where they will “invest” their charitable dollars. This choice means that a clear articulation of the church’s vision is a significant part of raising increasing support for the church’s ministry.
2. Share how the church’s mission is changing lives.
Congregation members want to know that they are making a difference with their contributions. They want to know that lives are being changed by the church. If donors don’t believe that they gifts are being used effectively, they will give their money someplace else.
3. Share real experiences of how the church is making a difference in the lives of people.
Jesus knew the power of a story. Share the stories of how your church is touching and changing the lives of people with whom it comes in contact. You might use a clip from a missionary you support or have members of your congregation tell their story of how the church has touched them, why they serve on mission teams, and other appropriate topics. It is best to get these on video so that the story is kept to an effective length. It could be shown at the beginning of the service or during the offertory.
4. Be transparent about your church’s financial situation but optimistic in the outlook.
In an age of information, the church needs to be transparent about its finances. This is an extremely important concept. Congregants want to know that the church is financially viable. No one would have boarded the Titanic if they knew the end of the story. So, being as transparent and optimistic as possible will actually produce a more positive response than the negative “beg-a-thons” that many churches use to attempt to increase their income. Success breeds success.
5. Thank parishioners for their support.
Positive reinforcement encourages people to continue their behavior. Say “thank you” at the time of the offering, at the end of the fundraising campaign, and at the end of year. Help donors to recognize that they are an important part of the mission and vision of the church. Help them to understand that they are an important part of God’s plan for your church.
6. Provide, at least annually, an opportunity for members to make a commitment to the church and for them to increase that commitment.
Churches that ask their members to make a regular commitment to fund ministry tend to have higher offerings per capita than churches that do not. This time of commitment is not, in effective churches, tied to raising the budget, but is focused on the donor’s need to give rather than the church’s need to receive.
7. Communicate the Biblical standard of tithing as an expectation for your church.
Research by the Gallup organization reveals that church members want to know what is expected of them. When no expectation exists, the congregant will fill in the blank themselves. Understanding that everyone is not in the same place spiritually is important. The New Testament is clear that while giving generously through the church is a matter of deep spiritual commitment, it is also clear that to neglect one’s family is a situation that is “worse than being an unbeliever”! This may have to start with new members who would join with a different contract than established members.
8. Provide electronic means of offering collection.
As your congregation gets younger, it is important to recognize that many members of the younger generation do not carry cash or use checks. They pay with Paypal, Debit or Credit Cards, and ACH checks which can withdraw their offering on a regular or irregular schedule directly from their bank accounts.
9. Provide consistent regular feedback to members about their giving.
Ed Stetzer, Richie Stanley, and Jason Hayes in Lost and Found report that people say they attend church at twice their actual attendance. Likewise, if asked, most members believe they gave more to the church than they actually do. Regular statements help them stay current and honest. Monthly statements tend to be more effective than quarterly statements because most regular bills are received monthly. With the ease of electronic communications, it is economically feasible to send monthly statements – and more effective.
10. Recognize that many families have major financial difficulties without an extended recession.
The Great Recession of 2008 sharply pointed out the significant lack of good money management by American families. A ministry like Good Sense Stewardship, Financial Peace University, or Crown Ministries will help families address unsecured debt, budgeting, and long-term financial issues. Many families going through these ministry programs report the ability to increase their charitable giving because they are free of the slavery of debt, and have a different view of giving. Such programs, open to the community, also provide a significant opportunity for ministry to the community.
Kirby-Smith Associates can partner with your congregation as it has with more than 15,000 churches since 1938. Our proven and custom designed campaigns have helped those churches generate more than $5 billion in new money.