Send Donor Statements More Frequently

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  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 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

Community Invitation Campaign (Marketing)

Marketing works – the proof is that so many companies “Just Do It” (Nike) and “Think Different” (Apple). Churches used to do marketing when they advertised the annual revival or other special services. Today, most churches have forgotten the need to advertise to their own community. Publicity about the church on special occasions gets results. Here are some fairly inexpensive ways let your neighbors know you’re there and invite them to attend.

  1. In a one or two mile radius around the church, place door hangers on homes. Pairs of people can walk prescribed routes the weeks before Easter and Christmas.
  2. Ask members to distribute postcards to work colleagues and neighbors. The postcards must have a message and info about the church.
  3. Find the election polling locations near your church. Then distribute postcards and cool water or hot chocolate; put labels with info about the church on the water or cups. Distribute the materials by setting up a table attended by volunteers during election day. The table with your material must be at the legal distance from the actual voting site. Remember that everyone who votes at each location lives within a couple of miles and is thus a neighbor of the church.
  4. Hand out $5 Starbucks cards to people at various local events. Include a card inviting people to your church. Giving away $250 reaches 50 people directly and probably 250 with the ripple effect.
  5. Give away boxes of Girl Scout cookies. Put a label on them with a greeting and info about the church. No one turns down cookies.
  6. At local sporting events for children, set up a tent and provide snacks and drinks to the kids and parents. Give everyone a postcard or flyer, too.
  7. Print church info on magnets and distribute those at some of the above functions. People tend to not throw away fridge magnets. You can create your own fridge magnets pretty cheaply or have them made professionally.
  8. Have pens made and spread those around nearby businesses and restaurants. They are always looking for extra pens. Good pens are great marketing material.

Think of your own ways to advertise that are appropriate for your own community.

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

Marketing – Door Hangers

A couple of years ago I spoke with a guy doing political print ads. He said that the best way for a politician to get his point across was to speak directly to the voters. The second best way was for volunteers to put door hangers on people’s homes – the inference by the recipient is that someone walked up to their house and left the info. Voters see that as far more personal than a radio, TV, or web ad and respond favorably to door hangers.

Most churches don’t count neighbors within walking distance as potential attendees; we’ve become that much of a car society.  Decades ago, revivals and crusades used to be the church’s main form of growth and the church spent loads of money on those annual events. That was the marketing budget. The church doesn’t do crusades or revivals anymore and most churches don’t do any form of marketing much less neighborhood outreach. Churches must do something to tell the neighbors “we’re here; we’re not scary; come try us out at a special occasion.”

The best times in the year to do marketing are Easter, Christmas, and August-back-to-schooI. These are the times of the year that people are most open to changes in their routine, especially if it involves going to church for the first time in years or decades. A simple door hanger will be a great form of introduction to the neighbors of who the church is.

The door hanger must include a graphic (to catch the eye), an invitation to attend (what you want the person to do), times, dates, & place (when and where the events are), and words of appreciation for them being the church’s neighbor and your desire for them to come and get to know even more of their neighbors.

Doing this once or twice a year will have an impact on your attendance. The door hangers can be placed out on a couple of Saturdays by volunteers walking the streets around the church. Draw a radius of about one mile out from the church and assign blocks to teams who will spend an hour putting out door hangers. After the volunteers are done, ask them to come back to the church for a snack and to tell stories of what they encountered as they put out the hangers.

And, most importantly, have fun doing this!

Lead On!

Steve