Over the last two weeks we have been delving into the three essential ingredients for strengthening your congregational finances, starting with LEADERSHIP… followed by RELATIONSHIPS. Now we set our sights on the third ingredient… AN ASKING STRATEGY. There are four primary strategies to consider: Annual giving, Capital giving, Endowment giving, and Earned Income. Let’s address the first one now. What are key success factors for a successful Annual giving strategy?
A Solid Stewardship Team
Consider a team of roughly 5 – 6 people, best recruited by the Pastor from amongst the financial leaders of the congregation. Throughout the year, arrange for team members to share monthly why they love being a member, and why they feel it is important to give back to the church. Also, on a monthly basis, highlight specific examples of how past giving has enhanced God’s ministry, with a constant expression of Thanks.
That which we love we make commitments to. So we need not be shy about asking members, including newer and younger members, to make an annual commitment to the church in support of God’s ministry. Membership commitment forms, in addition to receiving a financial commitment, can also include a renewal of membership, a commitment to regular attendance in worship and educational programs, a commitment of time & talent, or a commitment to invite a friend.
Growth in Giving; and Hoped-for Gifts
Annual giving (outside of a pandemic) is hopefully increasing 1% to 5% per year. It is not enough to say, “give as you can”, or “please increase your giving.” You need to be more specific. Members are likely asking themselves, “What do I need to do to help us achieve our goals?” Base your answer to this question on the ministry needs of the congregation, and not on an assessment of what members might be able to give. Options for responding to this question include:
- Asking them to increase their giving by __%.
- Provide a giving table, showing a column for current giving, and a column for the corresponding suggested giving.
- Provide a suggested dollar range in a special letter. This range is based on each member’s prior giving. This is the most effective approach.
The most important words when providing a Hoped-for gift is “pray” and “consider”, rather than telling them what they “should”, or “must”, or “can” do. We have witnessed time and again that prayerful people are generous people!
Adopt an approach for your annual stewardship emphasis program, leading to an intentional “Commitment Sunday” (typically in November). Involve volunteers to assist by contacting fellow members, not to solicit or demand a financial commitment, but rather to make sure everyone has the materials they need, have their questions answered, and to ask them to pray and consider responding Commitment Sunday.
Next week we will explore the 2nd asking strategy… Capital giving.
(This current series of articles is taken in part from the book “Raising Money For Your Congregation”, written by Bob Connolly of The James Company, published by ACTA Publications https://actapublications.com/raising-money-for-your-congregation/)
Fred Stoltz, Sr. Program Director
The James Company