Special Offerings for Specific Needs

Churches can have up to four special offerings for missions and other causes in a year – any more than that and it begins to affect the contributions to the ministry/operating budget of the church. Here are some ways to have special offerings that won’t affect your budget offerings

  1. Announce that “On Sunday, Month Day, there will be a special offering to help our XYZ Ministry. While there is money in the budget for XYZ, we need additional monies to pay for additional supplies and events that are planned. The first $XX,000 given will go to the regular budget but all monies given over $XX,000 will go for XYZ. Thank you for your generosity for this wonderful ministry.”
  2. The $XX,000 figure needs to be whatever the treasurer feels is a regular Sunday offering – the amount that would normally come in that Sunday for basic operations.
  3. Promote that special offering for 3-4 Sundays before the date using the offering time to show slides of last year’s event, interviewing people about their experience, etc. Any money received over the threshold helps lower the budget cost of XYZ. And any special offering funds not used for XYZ this year can carry over to the next year.  Alternate what is done each year so there is variety and so these offerings don’t get old.
  4. After the event, tell people how much was raised toward this ministry. If you don’t reach that goal, tell people that, too. You may get some designated gifts for the XYZ Ministry.

Lead On!

Steve

www.churchbestpractices.org – all kinds of FREE church manuals and sample documents
www.financeforchurches.org – 400 plus blogs on every church administration topic you can think of

Send Donor Statements More Frequently

Startup Stock Photos
  1. Let your donors know regularly how much they’ve given. Send contribution statements five times: the first week after each quarter ends plus an extra one the first week of December. A statement in early December reminds people of how much they’ve given (or not given) to the church so far that year and provides a reminder to make a contribution. Emailing statements is feasible with most church database systems at no or low cost.
  2. Every time you send out donor contribution statements, include a cover letter which tells 2 or 3 very short stories (tweets size) about the ministries of the church. This keeps people informed about what is going on. Also, the cover letter tells the donors who to contact the church office to correct erroneous data.
  3. For churches that mail offering envelopes to donors, send those out four times year.  Handing out or mailing offering envelopes just once a year means most people are aware of giving just once a year. Also, some people lose their packet of envelopes in a month so getting packets four times a year helps those people.
  4. Five contribution statements plus four mailings of offering envelopes = 9 times a year that members are being reminded to give.

Lead On!

Steve

www.churchbestpractices.org – all kinds of FREE church manuals and sample documents
www.financeforchurches.org – 400 plus blogs on every church administration topic you can think of

First Impressions

People who come to your church for the first time have made a serious investment of two or three hours of their time, overcoming anxiety about going to a new place, and trusting their kids to complete strangers. Churches must reciprocate by making their own efforts to make their environments welcoming and comfortable.

  1. Within a few seconds after walking through the church’s door, all guests know if this is the kind of environment where they want to stay or even return.
    1. Lobby furniture tells guests the kind of audience the church wants to attract and keep. If the furniture in the entrance is old, then it tells newcomers that the target audience for the church is older people. Think about the restaurants you go to – what atmosphere do they create at their entrance and what kind of clientele they are attracting?
    2. De-clutter the building by going through the hallways and rooms looking for things that are not needed and/or which distract people. Change the furniture, wall hangings, and anything else you have so that everything is appeals to your target audience.
    3. A good way to make all this happen is to recruit four or five 20- and 30-somethings and ask them to give serious feedback about the decor of the church.
  2. Newcomers are the people coming in your doors who are looking all around trying to figure out where to go. Greeters should be actively looking for newcomers and immediately stepping forward to talk with them.
  3. Ask newcomers for their phone number or email. If they do, then have a task force that calls them  Sunday or Monday to thank them for coming. That’s old fashioned but it works. People like a personal touch.

Lead On!

Steve

www.churchbestpractices.org – all kinds of FREE church manuals and sample documents
www.financeforchurches.org – 400 plus blogs on every church administration topic you can think of

First Time Donors

  1. Coming to a church for the first time means giving up several hours of your day (getting dressed to come, driving, being there, and going home). People have to be willing to attend something where they don’t know what is going to happen and who’s going to speak to them. It can be intimidating. People who visit your church for the first time should be acknowledged. The best way to do that is with a word at the door of the church by one of the ministers or, if you get their contact information, a brief note thanking them for giving their time to attend.
  2. When someone gives to the church for the first time, they not only are giving their time but also their labor. That is a big deal and it, too, should be acknowledged. The church’s finance office can tell the pastor who are first time donors because they’ll have to enter their info in the database. Most of the time the church can capture the donor’s information from a check or the email from digital donation. Send first time donors a note thanking them for their gift – they’ll be pleasantly surprised.
  3. An extra step to thank donors is to give them a book. A couple of good ones are The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn and Fields of Gold by Andy Stanley. The cost of the book and mailing will be about $10 but it will send an important message to the donor-the church is investing in you and we thank you for your gift with one of our own.

These are effective methods to recognize and thank first-time donors in a way that doesn’t embarrass them and may actually encourage them to give again.

Lead One!

Steve

www.churchbestpractices.org – all kinds of FREE church manuals and sample documents
www.financeforchurches.org – 400 plus blogs on every church administration topic you can think of

Giving Power

On March 28, 2019 a fire completely destroyed the apartments of 48 college students in Harrisonburg, VA, the home of James Madison University. Shortly after the fire, a student created a GoFundMe site asking for $48,000; within five days, the site received over $86,000. Here are some lessons churches can take away from this:

  • Power of small gifts-more than 3700 people gave an average gift of $23.24. The two biggest gifts were $500 each. While it is important to ask high capacity donors for gifts, do not underestimate the power of LOTS of smaller gifts. That also means that your message is shared among a wider audience and the ripple effect of that is immense. Everyone who gives feels good about being part of the solution.
  • Power of urgency-there was an immediate need and someone acted quickly. When there is a crisis, leaders must be proactive and not wait on a committee’s approval. When there is a need, address it immediately.
  • Power of community-this need was seen and met by tens of thousands of students, alumni, and friends all bound by one thing-their university. Leverage “the tie that binds” so people can unite behind one achievable goal.
  • Power of storytelling-this story has been shared on social media over 20,000 times. Churches need to share their stories of generosity as often as they can in as many ways as they can so that their community will know the ways they are engaged with their neighbors and city. Tell the stories!
  • Power of integrity-a student created this site but quickly released it to university administrator. Donors were able to see that a trusted institution would dole out the gifts in an impartial way.
  • Power of opportunity-people were asked to give and churches don’t do that enough. Every church has opportunities to be generous in their neighborhood and city-look for them and challenge everyone to join in.
  • Power of meeting other needs-money is the easiest way to give but there was also a request for clothing, school supplies, etc. for the students. This provides people a chance to give in other ways if they don’t have money to share. Look for creative ways for everyone to participate.

Lead On!

Steve

www.churchbestpractices.org – all kinds of FREE church manuals and sample documents
www.financeforchurches.org – 400 plus blogs on every church administration topic you can think of

Planned Giving & Endowment

  1. When each of us die, we will give away 100% of everything we own – it is the most generous we will ever be. But estate planning is NOT only for end of life decisions. Remember the joy you see at Christmas or birthdays; imagine being able to see that joy with things in your estate: land, money, possessions.
  2. Churches should have an annual emphasis whereby members are asked to include their family, friends, and the church they love in their will. Some churches even provide attorneys who prepare wills and the church pays part of the cost (if the church is included).
  3. Hospitals, civic organizations, non-profits, universities, and even high schools are asking people to give to them in their will. But none of them will do the funeral or even send a representative. The church will do the most for people at the end of their life – why not ask them to remember the church they love in their will.
  4. Let people know the causes/purposes in the church budget which the endowment can support financially such as missions, worship, fellowship, and programs for children and youth. People will readily give to those.
  5. During the annual endowment emphasis, tell stories in writing and from the pulpit of how the previous generations planned for the future and how we are blessed by their gifts. Storytelling is powerful and people will remember their impact.

Lead On!

Steve

www.churchbestpractices.org – all kinds of FREE church manuals and sample documents
www.financeforchurches.org – 400 plus blogs on every church administration topic you can think of

Make Generosity Part of Your Church’s DNA

  1. People are naturally generous but too many people today are constricted from giving by other financial obligations: mortgage, college debt, cars, credit cards, etc. Having enough money to pay for utilities, food, and clothing stretches some families to the limit.
  2. Modern advertising tells people to spend money as fast as they can. Very few voices are telling people to spend responsibly, save at least 10%, set aside another 10% for retirement, and give away 10% to non-profits. The church can help with that void.
  3. Financial Peace University and Crown Ministries both teach people how to manage their money, get out of debt, and give away money. Churches should encourage people to go through the classes. While these programs have a biblical basis, their principles are good for anyone whether or not they attend church. FPU/CM will help people get their financial house in order so that they have more financial leverage in their lives and thus more disposable income to be generous with.
  4. Another resource is providing books for people to read on their own. A couple of good ones are The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn and Fields of Gold by Andy Stanley. Ask classes to read the books together and talk about them AND act on the principles listed in each book. Two good children’s books are Miss Fannie’s Hat by Jan Karon and The Quiltmaker’s Gift by Jeff Brumbeau; each of these beautifully illustrated books teaches lessons about the joy of giving.
  5. Having natural conversations about FPU/CM and these books will, over time, make generosity part of your church’s DNA. Intentionally talk about this in small groups, Sunday morning sermons, Wednesday nights programs, etc. Make that word part of your culture AND your expectations of your members.

Lead On!

Steve

www.churchbestpractices.org – all kinds of FREE church manuals and sample documents
www.financeforchurches.org – 400 plus blogs on every church administration topic you can think of

Develop 20-25 Relationships

  1. A study of several churches showed that approximately 50% of attenders don’t give any money to their church (for a variety of reasons), 25% make gifts of 3% to 5% of their income, and 25% are generous (give more than 5%). Another study showed that about 5% of donors gave about 50% of a church’s income.
  2. Too often the generous donors are ignored by pastors who try to ensure there is no favoritism and that is understandable. However, ignoring them altogether is not acceptable.
  3. Every pastor should have a list of the top 20-25 donors to the church. Ask the finance office to provide an alphabetical list of donors (this ensures the pastor doesn’t know how they rank). Most pastors will already know that list but there may be some surprises.
  4. Once or twice a year the pastor should have coffee or a meal with each person on this list. The donors will be pleasantly surprised to get personal time with the pastor. It is critical that the visit be entirely pastoral, not a solicitation for money. Pastors need to be pastors at the meeting; just be a friend and pastor.
  5. After a few meetings, the donor may ask the pastor about giving opportunities to the church. This happens because the member and pastor got to know each other as individuals, not as donor and recipient. These donors already believe and support the church and when they know the direction of the church better, they may seek to be more generous.
  6. At a minimum, it helps the member to get some pastoral time and it helps the pastor to be more in touch with members. There is no downside to developing these relationships.

Lead On!

Steve

www.churchbestpractices.org – all kinds of FREE church manuals and sample documents
www.financeforchurches.org – 400 plus blogs on every church administration topic you can think of