Here are eleven specific things that churches around the country are doing that could help you make this year your church’s most generous year to date.
As you well know, people give to vision. Period. But sometime the reasons people don’t give is because a church is not up to date with how 21st century people prefer to give towards vision.
Here are a few things culturally sensitive churches are doing that you might consider:
1. Host a Dedicated, Short, and Memorable URL for Your Online Giving Page.
Whether you’re on the stage doing announcements or sending an email to the entire church, you need an easy to remember URL for your people to use for online giving. Let’s say your church’s name is Community Christian Church. Buy the domain name CCCgive.com and utilize that in all your communications. The key is to pick the three letters people automatically use when they say your church’s name in shorthand (ex. LCBC, CCC, CCV, NFC, etc.) and add “give.com” to it. Have that URL forward to your online giving landing page.
2. Pass Offering Bowls.
How antiquated, right? Yes, I know, passing offering plates doesn’t fit into your hipster ministry that targets 20 somethings without checkbooks. But the 5% of your people who still use them could (or do) underwrite 50%+ of your budget, so pass the plates.
3. Launch a Mobile App with a Giving Tab Combined with “Text to Give.”
Over $800,000 has been given in the last 15 months through our mobile app, and yet, Senior Pastors still have to fight with boards to free up $100 a month to host one. Go figure. We use Aware3 for both our mobile app and our text to give service.
4. Place Offering Drop Boxes Throughout Your Facility.
Go into any growing church, and there’s one thing I promise you’ll find: offering drop boxes everywhere. That’s because they know that the average family that comes into their facility is frazzled – kids going every which way, etc. In non-growing churches, if that family isn’t seated and prepared at exactly the right moment the offering plate is passed, you’ve made it incredibly inconvenient to participate in the offering. Here is where we bought ours and then customized them with a magnet with our logo.
5. Utilize the Best Church Management Software You Can Afford.
A great church management software system does the work of a full-time staff member at a fraction of the price. We manage EVERYTHING through Church Community Builder, which is hands down the best system out there right now. It is fully integrated with our giving processes, and we credit it with a rapid expansion of our online giving %. It’s not cheap, but you have to invest money to have financial systems that are scalable. Make the investment.
6. Implement a Donor Development Strategy.
What happens at your church the first time someone gives? The second? The third? What happens when someone gives a large gift? Gives online for the first time? The best churches out there have thought through all of that and have crafted a predetermined “system” that creates a personal touch-point for each of those “triggers.” Church Community Builder allows us to set up pre-determined emails that are automatically sent out to first-time givers, second-time, large gifts, etc. You do the front-end work, and it runs itself while giving a hands-on, personal touch to your communication processes. The point of having a premier church management software program is to ensure you let everyone who gives, regardless of the size of the gift, that their gift MATTERS. There is nothing more disheartening for a first-time giver to your church to give and then have NOTHING happen. Do the hard work to make them feel valued, as they should.
7. Mentor Your Top 5% Givers.
You spend time developing people who have the gift of teaching, don’t you? Then why don’t you spend time developing those who have the spiritual gift of giving? Romans 12:8 says, “…if your gift is giving, then give generously.” Churches with banner giving last year were led by Senior Pastors who felt a spiritual responsibility to help financial leaders cultivate their gifts.
8. Craft a Centralized Communication Strategy.
One of the characteristics of an under 400-member church is randomness, particularly in terms of how information flows to and from the congregation. To grow past 400, the Senior Pastor must craft and follow a simplified and centralized communication strategy. Here’s ours: I send a newsletter out on Fridays, we have a program we hand out at our services, and we push people to our website for everything else. That’s it. Churches that grow past 400 can’t be random with their communications, especially with their communications about money. Half of the problem with how a church TALKS about money is the unpredictable MEDIUM they use to do it, not the message itself. Giving always flows away from disorder.
9. Teach on Generosity TWICE a Year.
I’m shocked by how many Senior Pastors have no strategy in place for how they teach their people how to give. Churches that are financially strong teach on generosity twice a year. We do it in November and June. Others with different climates do it at other times. The Fall series is always 3-4 weeks and ends with a 90-day tithing challenge, and the summer series is 1-2 weeks.
10. Aim to Receive 75% of Your Offerings Through NON-Offering Plate Sources (Online Recurring Giving, Mobile App, Payroll Deduction, etc.)
Churches across the country that are growing and making a huge impact in people’s lives have set 75% as the mark they are trying to hit with their online giving. We’re close to that but still have more work to do. The way to make that happen is to ensure that you approach your people to sign up for online giving once a quarter. Put someone in charge of it (at CCV we say “If everyone owns it, nobody owns it”). Make it a concentrated effort. This is why Church Community Builder is so important for us. People go in, set up an account, and can set up recurring gifts as well as see their giving history and print tax statements (Yes, we don’t mail tax statements – we email them to remind them they can print them themselves).
11. Require Your Staff and Elders to Tithe.
If there’s one thing I know separates growing from non-growing churches it’s they’ve set the bar high for their leaders. I can’t tell you how many Senior Pastors I’ve met whose treasurers don’t tithe. Or some of their elders. As my Executive Pastor says all the time, “Never make a policy you’re not prepared to enforce.” Not tithing is a spiritual issue, and a performance issue, and must be treated as such. Speed of the leaders, speed of the entire team.