Everyone loves a good story. A story with emotion and drama. A story that touches a deep longing in our hearts, or one that makes us see things in a different light. A story has the power to take away prejudice and judgment. A story, crafted well, has the power to transform opinion.
"...the end of the year is a time with unparalleled potential for cultivating generosity, not just around this one season, but forward into the next year and beyond..."
Stories are powerful. People want to know how those around them are beating the odds. Your volunteers want to know how a person they said ‘hello’ to decided to come to your church and then give their life to Christ. Small group leaders want to know about the small group who supported their neighbor after they lost their job and couldn't make ends meet. People need to hear about ordinary people using their gifts and talents to impact communities devastated by natural disasters.
And year-end giving is no different.
There’s a lot of talk about giving and generosity in the church world, "...download free year-end giving resources..." and for good reason. Giving is an integral part of both people’s spiritual walks and any ministry’s operations, but money can always be a tricky subject. But, as with anything, the more you talk about it, the closer you come to normalizing the narrative and breaking past the barrier of taboo.
So with giving, we need to talk about it – and often. And for year-end giving specifically, we need to shift our approach to a more narrowed focus: a year-end giving campaign.
The most immediate benefit of a year-end giving campaign is, of course, increased giving. We can all celebrate this result, but planning this initiative with care and executing with excellence will add far greater value. Sadly, many pastors are afraid to talk about giving, especially this time of year when so many new visitors are in the house. After all, won’t we scare those people away if we talk about money? So why should we prioritize a purposeful giving message now?
Here are four reasons why church leaders need to take some time to intentionally plan and prepare a year-end giving campaign with stories.
- 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. Silence is simply a bad option.
- It provides an opportunity to talk about mission and vision. Generous people look at the church and wonder where and how they fit in, wanting to be a part of the larger story. It is critical to discuss the church’s mission, 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, presenting this year-end project in a compelling and creative way will encourage their giving sooner rather than later.
The end of the year is a time with unparalleled potential for cultivating generosity, not just around this one season, but forward into the next year and beyond. Now, it’s just a matter of knowing how.
"...a well-designed, well-executed giving project can strengthen your ministry’s entire generosity culture not just for the year’s end, but for the long haul..."
Creating a year-end giving project will breathe new life into the generosity culture of your church, so here are just a few of the important principles.
- Tell stories. Money is an important – sometimes emotional – topic for people. It represents our time, our labor, and our material safety. It’s hard to convince anyone to part with the fruits of their hard work for an abstract goal. People are moved by stories – so tell them. The ministry you’re funding touches and transforms lives, and when you communicate that, people will want to be a part of it.
- Be clear and concise. You might have the best cause in the world, but if you don’t communicate its impact clearly and concisely, you will lose people. Make it simple, with a clear call to action, and mention your church’s ministry projects from the pulpit. Create videos that capture the faces behind the words. And always give people several options for how to give.
- Show gratitude. When people take that step to give to your church, it’s vital that you personally acknowledge their investment so they know they’re not just a faceless number in your budget spreadsheet. This affirms their decision and their relationship with the ministry. Send a first-time giver a handwritten thank you or create a video that showcases the ministry their gift helped fund.
- Celebrate wins. You aren’t asking for money just to ask for money – you’re doing great work with the resources your donors are entrusting to you. They need to see it! Take pictures or video of physical projects that were completed and of the people whose lives were touched. Publicly celebrating these victories solidifies your givers’ feelings of being a part of something important and life-changing.
- Don’t stop paying attention when the project’s over. Generosity is an ongoing lifestyle, not just a signature on a single check, and it needs to be cultivated just like every other area of someone’s spiritual growth. Tracking metrics throughout the year is vital not just to your church’s financial health, but also to look out for your members’ physical and spiritual well-being.
If you’ve ever considered organizing a year-end giving project but weren’t sure where to begin or how to maximize its impact, know that a well-designed, well-executed giving project can strengthen your ministry’s entire generosity culture not just for the year’s end, but for the long haul.
You have tons of stories. Craft them and share them. You can begin to inspire people to do more and be more for the Kingdom.
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."