Straight Talk on Giving
(Originally published as an article within ECCU’s former e-publication, Ministry Banking Today.)
It’s not easy to talk about, yet it is the lifeblood of your ministry. Money—how do you address it with your donors? You may have gone to great lengths to make giving convenient, but are your donors aware of the various ways they can support your ministry? Here, Ministry Banking Today shares insights from local ministries on easy ways to get the word out:
Put it on your website. If you do nothing else, do this. Members and visitors alike visit your website often—make it easy for them to find information on giving.
Use Sunday morning announcements. Take a moment to remind the congregation of their giving options. This is especially valuable for churches that do not “pass the plate” during the service—and a great opportunity to briefly communicate a biblical perspective on giving.
Give financial updates in the bulletin, monthly newsletter, or weekly e-mail blast. When Evangelical Free Church of Fullerton, CA, launched their online giving program, they included a series of articles in their regular publication on how technology was increasing opportunities for giving and mission fulfillment. Keep your donors abreast of the financial realities of your ministry and how their contributions are directly impacting kingdom work. Be sure to end the update with a few options on how they can continue to give.
Send a letter to first-time givers. No matter how you get that first-time donation, follow up with a letter of thanks. Include a brief explanation of your ministry’s financial responsibility and accountability to ensure the money is used wisely. Don’t forget to mention the various ways giving is made easy in your ministry.
Integrate. ROCKHARBOR in Costa Mesa, CA, recently launched their GO Campaign—a church-wide effort to reach out to the world around them. The new campaign was a natural opportunity to talk about the different ways members could contribute financially—including an introduction to their new online giving program.
Preach it from the pulpit. By the time you read this, Life Bible Fellowship (LBF) in Upland, CA, will be participating in an intense version of “Deal or No Deal.” In this four-part series on finances, Pastor Jeff Taylor and Pastor Gary Keith excavate the truth about money from God’s word. And, while it may not be the place to discuss the specifics of giving, it is hard to imagine that a study on stewardship would not increase interest in opportunities to give.
Remember that communication about giving is tightly linked to your ministry’s overall attitude about money. For LBF, adopting an open-book approach to their financials made all the difference in giving patterns. Three years ago, the church launched a building campaign only to watch it lose momentum during a leadership change. Thus began what Pastor of Administration and Leadership Development Russ Parker calls “the pursuit of authenticity” in their finances. LBF became completely transparent with their financial situation—sharing exact figures and goals in small group presentations and FAQ sheets, and even setting up a specific e-mail address to field questions about the church’s finances—opening the doors to natural communication about stewardship and giving.
However you get the word out, remember to include information on results. Donors want to know they are making a difference for your ministry. Help them see the tangible results of their joyful giving.
For more information on communicating to your donors about giving, visit ECCU’s white paper resource Essentials of Fundraising for Churches.