Through my work with churches I know that it's common for churches to experience a lull in giving during the summer months. Members go on vacation and don’t donate money while they’re away, or they sometimes neglect to give during the summer in order to save for other activities.
Here are five practical tips for increasing church giving:
1. Set up online giving.
Maybe it’s time to move beyond the familiar. Passing the collection plate for cash and check offerings is no longer a sufficient method for your congregation to contribute.
Online giving – on your church website - is increasingly popular with many church members. With a secure site and a way to accept card payments, the church can make it easy for a lot more people to give. Online giving helps keep donations consistent throughout the year, because even if church members miss a Sunday, they can still give online.
You can make it easy to find with a “Give” menu displayed on the header navigation of your homepage. Consider adding an option for "automated contributions" that allows your members to set up their pledge payments like they do their mortgage or other bill payments. Include clearly outlined instructions for using this option. Both the website and church bulletins are efficient methods for informing the congregation of all the options available for giving.
2. Acknowledge and thank church givers.
Member gifts should be acknowledged and thanked in ways both public and private. For example, follow-up a pledge campaign by announcing the results in print and online communications with fulsome gratitude to the congregation. Add thank-you messages to public financial reports, end-of-year giving reports, and following any targeted or seasonal giving campaigns. Individual donors will welcome a personal thank-you when a donation is made that matches the method of giving – email, handwritten note, text, or online message.
3. Practice transparency.
Members who know how the church is doing financially are more inclined to contribute. Because giving may go down during the summer, be sure to set up a clear church budget with realistic expectations on giving and spending. Make sure that you share the church's budget and any financial challenges with the congregation. Highlight unmet needs.Tell them about any plans for cutting back or targeted fundraising. An atmosphere of openness and honesty will encourage people to give.
4. Educate congregation about finances.
Members understand that they should give to the church. For some, the reason for not giving is their uncertainty about their personal or family financial status. They may not think they can afford the commitment of a pledge. You can help by hosting a free "how to" workshop on managing money by a certified financial professional. Basic financial seminars hosted by the church can help people feel more secure in managing their finances and fulfill their responsibility to give.
5. Schedule an annual pledge campaign.
Pledge campaigns are successful for many reasons. They focus the spotlight on giving and encourage everyone to pledge the amount that they can contribute on a regular basis. Many churches use special envelopes, cards or electronic tools to simplify the process and motivate the congregation. A pledge campaign unites church members in a memorable effort that increases giving and can be fun.
When it comes to financial planning, budgeting and dispersing, financially sound churches do it with the guidance of a qualified professional.
Let us help you plan ahead for growth!
Charles P. Myrick is a Washington, DC accounting firm offering specialized CFO services to churches and religious institutions. Myrick CPA was voted Best Accounting Firm in DC, 2016 and 2017, Washington City Paper Readers’ Poll. Request a confidential consultation, today.