Last year a pastor shared with me their church’s approach to year-end giving.
I thought it was simply brilliant and, with his permission, asked if I could pass it along on our blog the following year. Now that the end of 2016 is coming into sight, I’d love to pass along what this church does in case it may serve your community well also.
The end of the calendar year is an important time for churches financially. It’s typically the biggest giving month of the year. This is most often due to a combination of:
- Donors who give annually
- Donors who want to calculate their gift relative to bonuses/commission they may have received throughout the year
- Donors who respond to a special request from the church for an extra year-end gift
- Donors who have fallen behind and want to catch up on their giving
- Donors who are looking to write off additional income for tax purposes
What can a church do to help these year-end donors? One word: awareness.
Helping donors remember that now is the time for them to give prior to the new year starting can not only help your church financially but can also help those connected to your church achieve the generosity goals that they have in mind.
The Traditional Approach
Traditionally this might be done by the pastor letting the congregation know, on a given Sunday morning, that the end of the year is approaching and encouraging people to give.
Here’s the problem with that approach: people forget.
As an increasing percentage of the population stops carrying cash and checkbooks, the church is relying on these individuals to either:
- go home and give online or
- go home, find their checkbook, and remember to bring it back the following week
The reality is that after the service moms are picking up their kids, people are going out to lunch, and plans are being made for the rest of the day. Many of the people who cognitively decided to give when they heard the pastor bring it up may not remember again until the following Sunday when they are sitting in church… without their checkbook.
If you find yourself resonating with these challenges, here’s an alternate two-step approach that may serve your church well:
Step 1: On December 1, send out a donation summary to 2016 Donors
On the first of December, send out a donation summary to everyone who has given in 2016. The letter asks them to:
- Review their giving history for the year
- Provides an opportunity to give online
This gives people a reminder of what they’ve given as well as a way to immediately give more if they haven’t achieved their generosity goals for the year.
As an example, it might look something like this (and feel free to take any or all of this if it would be helpful in your own church):
Step 2: On December 1, send out a donation statement to regular attenders who have not donated
In addition to the letter to donors, sending a letter to those who have not donated (but still attend regularly) can be another helpful step. This both:
- Allows you to make sure your records are accurate
- Helps make the attender aware that they haven’t given and provides a clear and immediate way to change that if they desire.
The letter might look something like this:
If the above letter seems a bit too direct (i.e. letting them know you noticed they didn’t give might not be as well received), you could consider a softer approach such as:
While the content of your letter might (and probably should) vary to match your own culture and context, the important part here is that you are making people aware of the opportunity to give and providing an immediate way to do so at a time that typically makes sense for donors.
Creating the Letters
While there are a variety of ways someone could put these letters together, I’d love to take a moment to show you the easiest way to do it through Breeze. Below I’ll walk through both how to do this via snail mail as well as email.
A Print Letter to Donors
Here is a short video showing how to generate letters for people who have given in 2016.
A Print Letter to Non-Donors (who are regular attenders)
Here is a short video showing how to generate letters to those who have not given in 2016 who regularly attend.
An Email to Donors
Here is a short video showing how to send emails to people who have given in 2016.
An Email to Non-Donors (who are regular attenders)
Here is a short video showing how to email those who have not given in 2016 who regularly attend.
It’s my hope that some part of this method, the language in the letters, or the techniques used within Breeze to put this together will serve your church exceedingly well.
Thanks for the honor it is to serve you and I hope you have a wonderful Christmas season.