This will be the first in a two-post series we hope inspires you to start preparing and strategizing your year-end giving approach so that you can meet – or dare we say exceed – your year-end giving goals.
"...the most immediate benefit of a year-end giving plan is, of course, increased giving..."
We know; we realize the phrase – ‘year-end giving’ – is a bit of a misnomer as it suggests that it’s something that can wait until, well, the end of the year. But it can’t. And it shouldn’t.
The most immediate benefit of a year-end giving plan is, of course, increased giving. So here are five reasons church leaders should take some time to intentionally plan and prepare for year-end giving.
- It prompts spiritual growth. The intersection of faith and finances creates the opportunity for more individual spiritual growth than anything else. As a person’s finances find alignment with his or her faith, huge leaps of spiritual growth take place.
- It normalizes the giving conversation. Most churches are very reluctant to talk about money. By avoiding this conversation, churches are actually ensuring a negative outcome when it comes to generosity and limiting the natural opportunity for spiritual growth. When church leaders allow people to separate faith and finances in their minds, they effectively dismiss matters of finance from their spiritual lives.
- It provides an opportunity to talk about mission and vision. Generous people often look at the church and wonder where and how they fit in. An annual vision weekend or generosity series rarely creates any long-term traction in the lives of your donor base. Donors want to play a part in the larger story. It is critical that you take every possible opportunity to discuss – in a meaningful way – the church’s mission and vision, and the role finances play in supporting the ongoing ministry of the church.
- Holiday giving is a great opportunity for a person to give for the first time. If your church is attracting new people, "...download free year-end giving resources..." presenting your year-end goals in a compelling and creative way will encourage their giving sooner rather than later. If your church is like most, 50 percent or more of your regular members and attendees give nothing or close to nothing. An exciting and well presented year-end initiative can help change that. A person must give a first gift before they can become a regular investor in the ministry of your church.
- It gives leadership practice talking about the church’s mission and finances. This type of conversation is a catalyst for an easy-to-understand dialogue about the value and impact of generosity. It is a very natural onramp to giving and provides a great opportunity for your church’s members and attendees to invest in the mission and vision of the church. Year-end giving conversations can give you and your leadership a very safe and low-risk platform to communicate mission and vision and to challenge people to get involved.
"...year-end giving conversations can give you and your leadership a very safe and low-risk platform to communicate mission and vision and to challenge people to get involved...."
It’s no secret that many churches place a lot of budgetary eggs in their end-of-year giving basket – and for good reason. Historically, December has provided a financial boost to total giving figures for many churches.
But the traditional messages of obligation and guilt overwhelm what should be a narrative of generosity, charity and goodwill. So consider these four strategies that promote year-end giving without heavy-handed doses of guilt, obligation or awkwardness:
- Announce and advertise your project. Not only should you clearly communicate your goals and intentions (see: 1.), but you should also regularly remind your congregation of your projects and their goals. Consider using a variety of methods (think: printed collateral, videos, envelopes, your website, social media and the pulpit) to gently help remind people over time so it feels more like a helpful nudging – not a shakedown.
- Communicate early. And often. If you spend time communicating your church’s goals and the potential benefits of the congregation’s generosity to help continue the mission of the church and God’s work, you stand to reap the rewards. It’s easier to feel charitable when the ask is positive – and not shrouded in urgency and obligation.
- Rejoice in your successes. While a time-consuming gesture, a personalized, handwritten note of gratitude to each and every giver speaks volumes to how much you – and your church – value them as congregants. Also be sure to celebrate your church’s generosity every Sunday. People feel good knowing that their collective efforts accomplish a greater good, and working together to serve God creates community and camaraderie.
- Foster communal charity. A first-time giver may be reluctant to give during the rest of the year, feeling like their efforts are lost in the shuffle without seeing any tangible impact. But if instead their first gifts come at a time when the congregation as whole is coming together for the greater good – and the fruits of their communal efforts are seen and heard – they’re more likely to give again.
When we’ve found ourselves in need, we have trusted God and He has so faithfully provided exactly what we’ve needed just when we’ve needed it. And in return, we give sacrificially to God and ask that others do the same; we ask people to be uncomfortably generous – year-end and year-round.
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."