2020 was the year that no one saw coming. Every church in America adapted to an online strategy, including an online giving strategy, due to the pandemic.
As it relates to giving, many churches saw a dramatic drop in giving in the early weeks of the pandemic, which added to the anxiety church leaders were feeling. Most churches were able to recognize what was happening and made adjustments to ensure that people could make financial gifts to their church, whether in person, by mail, or online. Many churches report that key givers stepped up and accelerated their giving in April and May to help their church face the challenges of the pandemic. Through difficult circumstances, God was holding His Church.
It’s fair to say that 2020, for most churches, ended up much better than what they might have projected when the reality of the pandemic appeared in March. The majority of churches report that giving was stable and they were able to maintain financial health.
Moving into the new year, we see this as a time to build on the stability of 2020 and begin to anchor your givers, especially your core givers, for the season ahead.It is also time to send annual giving statements, generally by January 31. While it is easy to see the annual giving statement as an administrative item – “the IRS requires it, so I’ll do it” – we see it as a great opportunity to connect with your givers to express gratitude and cast vision for the year ahead. Engaging with your givers is a significant activity. Givers love it when the church engages with them, especially when it is to tell them about all the great things that were accomplished as a result of their giving and generosity.
Our team has put together a great resource for the annual giving statement, including easy to use templates for various types of thank you letters you might use in your annual giving statement process. You can get the resource by clicking here.
Focus on Giver Engagement
Build on Giver Engagement
Yes, an all-church phone call effort to reach out to every giving household and say thanks. The not so hidden opportunity here is pastoral care. We are fairly certain that this effort will be greatly appreciated by your givers but it will also give rise to conversations which reveal pastoral care issues. In any year, there would be pastoral care concerns. But a year like 2020 exact an even greater emotional and spiritual toll on people. Leveraging the all-church call the thank givers is an excellent way to uncover pastoral care opportunities which might have been otherwise undiscovered.
Download a Sample Script to use as your and your team engage with your givers.
Discipling and engaging higher capacity givers is a part of every plan to build an ongoing culture of generosity. Successful people tend to be overlooked in churches. Their lifestyle can make it look like they have it all figured out. From our experience over the years, nothing could be further from the truth. Higher capacity people can be some of the most spiritually undernourished people in a congregation. They have challenges and needs like everyone else. And, because of their socioeconomic status, it can be hard for them to relate to the more average Joes and Janes in your church. If you are not doing anything to nurture your higher capacity givers, perhaps a first step would be to create some affinity groups where they can get to know each other. Chances are, they will have some things in common. You could do this as a Bible study group. Or maybe even a lighter touch like just fellowship and prayer to get it started. The point is this…do not overlook the spiritual needs of these people. Make sure they are in a small group environment in your church where they can get nourished.
What are our financial needs for this year and even into next year? For ongoing ministry. And for expansion of our ministry. Should we do a campaign this fall? Or early 2022? Now is the time to start thinking through that. In all likelihood, the budget you adopted for 2021 was constructed several months ago. Look it over and make sure it is still viable for the ministry you are planning to do this year.
Many churches can cite chapter and verse on the income and expenses of their church and yet they know little to nothing about what is happening with the givers in their database. After all, church giving is really the sum total of many giving decisions. The giver database gives the church insight into what is happening behind the scenes.
While there are a number of metrics that are important, if you only had one, this is the one that would be a high priority. The movement of new givers and lapsed givers. In other words, who gave for the first time in 2020? And who was a faithful giver in 2019 that did not give in 2020?
Tracking new givers is a great way to understand the true growth that is happening in your church. Other metrics, especially attendance and online participation, are more subjective and even hard to quantify, especially in the pandemic season. When a person decides to give to your church for the first time, it is objective data that they are engaging at a new level.
Understanding why people who are proven givers have stopped giving is important, too. It can open the door to pastoral care opportunities. Or to possible areas of ministry that are not unsatisfactory. For example, a large number of families with kids in the children’s ministry of the church show up on the lapsed giver list. That could be a sign that there are issues in the children’s ministry. Tracking lapsed givers opens up new insights for church leaders.
If you’d like Generosity Strategist to give you an assist on analyzing your new and lapsed givers, schedule your complimentary call today.
We are happy to help you interpret your giver data and develop next steps for how to connect with your givers.
We know that giving and generosity in your church can be threatened by a few things and one of the more prevalent threats is disengagement.
Think about it this way — what if you could see Family Ministry as the primary growth engine in 2021?