While every church will send out a 2017 contribution statement, many miss an opportunity to leverage it to increase giving in 2018. So before you mail a year-end giving statement to your givers, consider investing a few extra hours to make your letter more meaningful and effective.

As a leader, we recognize you have a lot to do. Not only are you responsible for the daily care of your congregation, but you also deal with unexpected life moments that require your full energy and attention.

"...because really, without the generosity of your congregants, there wouldn’t be an exciting Christmas service to prepare..."

Even though your annual giving statement isn’t as exciting as preparing a Christmas service, sharing the spotlight with the giving conversation in your church to express sincere gratitude to your givers is HUGE.

Because really, without the generosity of your congregants, there wouldn’t be an exciting Christmas service to prepare.

Engaging the hearts of your donors will not only align them to the mission of your church, but it will foster their passion for giving while reaffirming their belief that giving to your church is an investment in ministry.

And taking the time to personalize your annual giving statements is well worth the effort to demonstrate a spirit of gratitude, and will go a long way in letting your givers know exactly how invaluable their generosity is and how an integral a part of your church’s ministry it truly is.

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Because ultimately, anyone can write a legal tax statement, but only those with farsighted vision know that engaging the heart of the giver is paramount – and worth every extra effort.

Ask yourself these questions as you draft your letters:

1. Does your year-end giving statement communicate a professionalism that fosters trust?

If your tax statement is spell-checked and thoughtfully formatted, it creates a sense of professionalism that can help donors feel confident their gifts are being put to good use.

2. Does your year-end giving statement communicate a consistency with your church’s brand?

Your statement is an opportunity to increase brand loyalty toward your church. Your logo and contact information should be presented as it would be on any other communication from your church.

3. Does your year-end giving statement communicate your sincere gratitude?

While your year-end statement is used for tax purposes, it’s still being read by people who have chosen to give their hard-earned money to your organization. So take a quick second to express your gratitude.

PRO TIP: Your gratitude is even more impactful when the letter is from the pastor and not ‘from the church.’

4. Does your year-end giving statement communicate your vision?

Use the statement as an opportunity to (re-)cast your vision and remind people how their gifts help achieve that vision. Their generosity got your church to where it is today – and wherever it goes tomorrow.

5. Does your year-end giving statement tell a story?

Very few people find financial numbers and reports intriguing. Rather, most people opening an envelope want to hear a story and are more likely to respond to that over statistics and data. This year, do more than just deliver a standard, record-based printout?

6. Did you leverage the cover letter?

Use a cover letter as an opportunity for the pastor to retell the story of the church over the past year, highlighting measurable moments of ministry impact. Then, close the letter with your vision of what God is going to do over the next year. People like to hear and be reminded of the ‘big picture’ ahead.

7. Did you personalize the address?

People want to read something with their name on it. Make sure you personalize each and every address you send.

8. Did you give the recipient a reason to open the envelope?

More and more churches are doing this. By finding a way to delicately remind people of their contribution, you could encourage them to give in 2018. You can also include a comparison of the current year’s giving next to the previous year’s giving to serve as a timely reality check.

10. Did you provide other options?

Take a moment to remind the giver that additional giving options, such as online giving, are available.

"...it will foster their passion for giving while reaffirming their belief that giving to your church is an investment in ministry. ..."

When people are excited about what their church is accomplishing, they’ll "...download free year-end giving resources..." become involved in what’s happening – and want to become part of something greater than the sum of its parts. It’s an incredible opportunity to reignite the passion and faith that inspired your congregants’ generosity in the first place.

It’s also an opportunity to take a legally obligatory correspondence – one they have to read and keep for filing taxes – and turn it into a means of thanking them for their sacrificial giving. You have a captive audience – use it to express your deepest gratitude to those who have stood beside you in faith all year long.

There's always a next step:

Turn your focus to elevating the giving conversation in your church and download "The Ultimate Year-End Giving Resources."