Generosity is a core element of Christian life and discipleship. From the financial perspective, God doesn’t need our money to further His Kingdom, yet the Bible says a great deal about how to be good stewards of it. Your church members want to obey God’s Word and support your efforts in spreading it, but many families struggle to understand how much they should give or how to budget in their offerings to the church.
More so than ever, religious churches and institutions are facing challenging circumstances when it comes to connecting with their congregations and growing church giving. Due to the pandemic, many churches are in dire need of funding just to keep their doors open, and they’re having to go the extra mile to engage their constituents. Those that have failed to cultivate a spirit of stewardship or philanthropy are finding it especially difficult to secure sufficient funding right now.
Here at Greater Mission, we focus on helping churches and other faith-based organizations overcome challenges like those presented by COVID-19. Known for our commitment to the Church, we’ve spent ample time helping faith-based groups inspire faith-filled generosity and advance their missions through capital campaigns, stewardship, and mission advancement services.
Based on our first-hand experience, we suggest you encourage faithful giving by implementing best practices such as:
- Model generosity.
- Share testimonies.
- Offer multiple giving channels.
These tips will help you overcome today’s challenging financial climate and effectively lead your congregation to joyful generosity. Let’s get started.
1. Model generosity.
As noted in Greater Mission’s guide to encouraging church members to give, teaching by example is an essential part of church leadership. While this applies to the way you love and live like Jesus, it also pertains to encouraging philanthropy.
It’s up to church leaders to fuel congregants’ passion for supporting God’s Word through selfless giving.
Too often, church leaders are reluctant to practice generosity publicly. They don’t want to boast about their giving habits, because they want to give humbly rather than feel as if they brag about their generous spirit. However, generosity is both caught and taught. While the priest and staff members should share that they’re donating, they don’t have to share how much they’ve given per se. What’s important is that church members know you’re leading the way in giving.
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Keep in mind that generosity should not come from a place of pride or manipulation; rather, you should articulate that you believe in the principles of giving as discussed in scripture. When members see church leaders expressing their faith, they’ll recognize their own roles in giving and naturally follow suit.
2. Share testimonies.
Giving to a ministry is an emotional decision for many churchgoers. As part of your church pastoral and management duties, you must connect with your congregation and make sure members understand the impact of their gifts. An effective way to accomplish this is by sharing testimonies.
People want to make a difference in others’ lives. And for philanthropic congregants, there’s nothing better than hearing stories of how their contributions influence the livelihood of others.
Chances are, you have people in your church who have watched God do amazing things through their generosity. Encourage those who have experienced this to share their stories. Ask them to write up their testimonies of giving to the Church, or for those who are comfortable with being on camera, capture their stories on video.
There are a few options for sharing these testimonials, including:
- In an email. Do you disperse a weekly or monthly newsletter? This is a prime opportunity to tell your donors’ stories and inspire others to give. Use some space to share their journeys paired with eye-catching imagery.
- On social media. Reach younger generations of church members by leveraging your social media platforms. Either share testimonials in a video format or feature them as text appeals. With text-based appeals, include a photo of the individual or their generosity’s impact on your mission.
- During service. Under normal circumstances, the individual could simply stand up in front of the congregation and deliver their testimony. With the shift to digital services, you can either have them speak on your live-stream or you can play a video of their testimony.
By sharing these acts of kindness, you tie giving to your mission and show the tangible difference people can make. When church members know their contributions actually mean something, they’re much more likely to participate and feel a sense of belonging to the church.
3. Offer multiple giving channels.
Most of us still pass the offering plate at church, but you’ll reach more donors if you want to expand your giving opportunities. Donating is more convenient when people can give using platforms that best suit them, and with social distancing guidelines, many fundraising opportunities live online.
Today, faith-based organizations are seeing rapid growth in digital giving. Recent studies have found that religious organizations have seen an 18.1% increase in online giving. Leverage this growing opportunity for generosity by expanding your fundraising outlets to include these two key digital fundraising platforms:
- Online giving. Your digital fundraising strategy starts with a well-designed digital donation form. Morweb’s donation page design guide suggests that you should simplify your form to capture essential information and brand the page to match the rest of your church’s website. Otherwise, congregants may think your form is lengthy or untrustworthy, which may lead to them abandoning their contributions altogether.
- Mobile donating. According to this statistics page, the number of mobile transactions has increased by 50% over recent years, so ensure your online giving page is mobile-responsive, meaning that it resizes elements so that the donor experience is seamless on mobile devices. Then, implement other mobile giving methods, like text-to-tithe, where congregants text a predetermined keyword to your church’s designated phone number (which is assigned through a provider) and receive a link to your online giving page.
While especially useful right now, the benefits of digital fundraising extend beyond the pandemic. According to our text-to-tithe guide, “with digital tithing, can either give right from their seat with a mobile device or make a gift from home later in the week.”
It’s important to keep in mind that generosity isn’t limited to dollars and cents — especially right now. For those who are struggling financially, articulate other ways to be generous, such as by volunteering their time, lending their skills, and using their connections within the community.
Allowing congregants to give how they want shows that you value their experience. In turn, you’ll effectively cultivate a love for giving back.
Your congregants want to be generous. Some of them just need a slight nudge, whether it’s through proactive leadership or motivational stories about how God responds to generosity. They need to understand their role in the Church’s mission and how their generosity ties into it.
As a member of your church’s leadership, you’re in a unique position to teach about generosity and provide outlets for expressing it. By taking these steps, you’ll find that church members are much more eager to give and see how their giving impacts the Church’s mission of spreading God’s Word.