Generosity

8 Ways to Break Out of a Summer Giving Slump

While it may be unavoidable all together, there are ways your church can break out of the summer giving slump.

8 Ways to Break Out of a Summer Giving Slump
by

Jesse Wisnewski

The summer is a nerve-racking time for many pastors.

If you’ve been pastoring for more than a year, you may have experienced a significant dip in attendance and giving in your church, which makes sense.

Between families going on vacation, sporting events on Sundays, and parties and barbecues, there are a ton of good things going on during the summer that can distract the members of your church from regular attendance.

A decline in attendance during the summer usually leads to a dip in giving.

It’s natural for your members to think less about the church when they’re laying on a beach. The only chairs they’re thinking about stacking are their rusty collapsible beach loungers.

While the members of your church are on vacation and enjoying summer activities, the life of your church goes on. But God’s call on your life doesn’t stop just because attendance suffers a 30% drop.

You still have ministries to fund.

You still have bills to pay.

You still have salaries to provide.

The summer months can be demoralizing and kill your church’s momentum.

But here’s the deal: You don’t have to be a victim of a summer giving slump.

The life of your church can go on.

You can continue to reach out to your community.

You can continue to preach the gospel.

You can continue to participate in God’s work in your community.

In this post, I’m going to walk you through eight ways you can overcome the summer giving slump. Here’s what we’re going to talk about:

  • Make a plan
  • Promote online and mobile giving
  • Trumpet recurring giving
  • Engage your congregation on the go
  • Plan summer activities
  • Share stories of changed lives
  • Save for a summer slump
  • Support your community

The summer is approaching fast, so let’s get started.

#1. Make a plan

Do you expect to see a decrease in attendance and giving this summer? If so, you’re not alone.

This summer, there are two different ways you can prepare.

First, you can stick your head in the sand and just hope things work out.

 

I’m not sure if this has been your approach in the past. But it usually doesn’t work out well. Not knowing whether or not you’re going to have enough money in the bank to tend to your church’s needs can be a stress-inducing experience.

Let’s agree not to stick our heads in the sand this summer.

Second, the best thing you can do is to make a plan to smooth out your church's summer giving slump. In the rest of this article, I’m going to share with you seven ways you can make your plan.   

#2. Promote online giving and mobile giving

Here’s the deal: A decrease in attendance will lead to a dip in giving.

I know I’m stating the obvious. But if the members of your church don’t have to be physically present to give, then you can offset the slump in your summer giving.

For churches who use Tithe.ly, they’ve actually experienced an increase in giving through the summer instead of declining.

8 Ways to Break Out of a Summer Giving Slump

Why’s this the case?

Simple

Donating online is becoming the new normal, and most giving (67%) takes place on days other than Sunday.

To beat the summer giving slump, you need to offer online and mobile giving options for your church. When you give people great online and mobile options to give, it enables anytime giving.

On vacation? Enjoy yourself.

Are you traveling for work? Focus on your business.

Sick? Stay in bed.

Regardless of the reason, someone can’t attend your worship service; they’ll be able to financially support your church from their phone, computer, or tablet.

Now, increasing your online giving requires more than just making it available on your church’s website. You have to promote online giving and help the people in your church give online.  

Here are nine tips to help you increase online giving in your church.

#3. Trumpet recurring giving

Regular recurring giving lays a solid foundation for your church’s budget.

On average, people who make recurring donations give more frequently and more per year. When you lead the members of your church to automate their giving, it will help you to avoid a summer giving slump.

8 Ways to Break Out of a Summer Giving Slump

At Tithe.ly, we made it super simple for people to set up recurring giving with a few clicks.  

Not sure how to promote recurring giving?

Check out this post: 6 Proven Ways to Increase Recurring Giving in Your Church.

#4. Engage your congregation on the go

Taking a vacation is essential for you and the members of your church. It doesn’t matter if you take a “staycation” or go somewhere with your family and friends. Taking a break from work and life to have some fun is good for your soul.

When the members of your church are away, you can help them to stay connected by providing a church app.

With a church app, you can let people:

  • ​Listen to your sermons on the go
  • Check for prayer requests
  • Keep up with church news and social media
  • Donate with 1-tap

Making it easy for people to connect on the go will help them to feel apart of the life of church still even though they’re not physically present.

#5. Plan summer activities

Don’t set the cruise controls during the summer just because people are on vacation.

There’s nothing wrong with taking family vacations or skipping a worship service here and there, but that doesn’t mean the mission of your church needs to come to a halt.

Create a summer message series that will get people excited about sticking around. Use the weather to your advantage and bring in some bouncy houses and food trucks between services, or organize a church event that’s a picnic on the lawn. Make your party the party that people want to come to.

 

If your preaching pastor is taking time off, bring in a guest preacher who will draw a crowd. If your worship team has dwindled down to “we’re going to do an acoustic set today, with Danny and his guitar,” then consider hiring a worship team or a popular band to fill in and give people a break.

#6. Share stories of changed Lives

God doesn’t take a break during the summer. His presence isn’t felt less during worship just because you have a few people absent.

Sharing stories of God’s work in your church is a natural way to inspire giving. These types of stories—testimonies—are a tangible way people can see God’s work in the life of people.

Is there a new profession of faith you can celebrate?

Are there new baptisms you can acknowledge?

Did God recently restore a marriage in your church?

Does your church support a local nonprofit agency or missionaries?

Don’t worry about whether or not your story is grandiose and fit for the big screen. The best type of stories you can share is from the common types of stories people can easily relate to.

Share stories during your church offering, your worship service, on your website and via social media. Make sure to thank the people for financially supporting your church to make these stories possible. This way people will see that their financial gifts continue to matter–even during the summer months.

#7. Save for a summer slump

It’s a good idea for your church to have a financial cushion in case you do run into a summer giving slump.

Having an emergency fund isn’t an expression of a lack of faith. Instead, having cash reserves to take care of unexpected expenses or a decrease in giving is a sign you understand stewardship in the Bible.

According to a survey conducted by Christianity Today’s Church Law & Tax Group, the average church saves 2% of its annual budget. This may be a good benchmark for your church. But consider setting aside more money per month until you’re able to cover 90 days of your expenses.

#8. Support your community

Do you know who else struggles during the summer?

Nonprofit organizations.

Not only will many nonprofit organizations experience financial setbacks, but, according to TIAA Charitable, “Among the hardest hit are organizations that depend on schools and businesses for group efforts, such as hosting blood drives or collecting food for charity.”  

This summer, consider partnering with nonprofit organizations in your community to provide financial assistance and volunteer support.

There are many ways you can get your church on board to help, including:

  • Pray for organizations in your community
  • ​Invite a representative from a local organization to share with your church
  • Organize a church-wide volunteer opportunity or donation drive
  • Set up weekly opportunities for your church to volunteer
  • Take up a one-time offering

Supporting a nonprofit organization during the summer will encourage the members of your church to participate in the work of the ministry and stick around.

Why Write Church Donation Letters?

In a previous blog post, I shared the different ways your church can thank donors—from automated emails to year-end giving reports. Printed donation letters also play an essential role in your church’s stewardship efforts.

Donation letters are the Swiss Army knife of your church’s gratitude arsenal. It may not be the most powerful—but it’s versatile, handy, and gets used often.

Your basic church donation letter can serve many different purposes, including:

  • Acknowledging that you received a donation
  • Thanking the giver for being generous with their finances
  • Sharing other ways the person can support your church
  • Allowing the donor to write the gift off on their taxes
  • Encouraging supporters to make recurring donations
  • Requesting future donations from church members

A single, well-crafted donation letter can pull together several of these things simultaneously. Better donation letters lead to more giving, which leads to more donation letters—thus creating a cycle of on-going church generosity.

Church Donation Letter Samples

Here’s the good news—you don’t have to write an individualized letter for every person who gives to your church. That would be tough to do for even smaller churches. And most donors don’t expect you to. They’d rather you be putting their gift to better use in the community, instead of ceaselessly writing thank you notes.

With the possible exception of some unique circumstances, your church can use template language for the majority of your church donation letters. You’ll have to add in custom details like the donor’s name and gift amount, but you can write everything else in advance.  

To make this even easier on you, here are a few basic church donation letter templates you can copy and paste. Keep in mind that not all of these have to be in print—you could just as easily turn some of these samples into email appeals.

1. Donation Acknowledgment Letter

The Donation Acknowledgement Letter is a basic way you can confirm and affirm a monetary gift to your church. Sending these is standard practice in church and nonprofit culture.

Dear [first name],
I want to personally thank you for your donation of [gift amount] to [church name]. We’re honored you would bless us with your generosity. Donations like yours make a big difference in the work our church is doing in the community.
Without givers like you, our church can’t have an impact or influence in our community. With your support, we’re partnering with local nonprofits, sending out global mission trips, and hosting small groups on topics that help real people like you. Together, we can make a difference.
Because we’re a tax-exempt nonprofit, you also get to write this donation off on your taxes. This letter serves as official proof of your donation, so keep it in your records come tax season. At the end of the year, we’ll also send you an annual recap with how much you’ve given to the church.
Thank you for supporting [church name]!
Sincerely,
[your name]

2. Donation Request Letter

Not every church member realizes the importance of giving, or understand Bible verses about tithing and giving.  So a Donation Request Letter helps to spread that awareness and encourage a spirit of generosity.

Dear [first name],
How are the finances in your household? That was a rhetorical question, so you don’t have to answer—besides, this is a letter so we wouldn’t hear you anyway. But we still want you to think about that question.
Money is a uniquely human issue, one we all struggle with to one degree or another. Even if you’re financially blessed, you still have the burden of stewarding your money wisely. And we believe that one of the best ways to invest your money is into the local church.
Tithing (giving 10% of your income) on a regular basis not only supports the work we do at [church name]. It doesn’t just support local missions and community growth. It also shows an obedience to God by making his work a financial priority in your life.
So if you find yourself ready to put God first in both your heart and your wallet, we encourage you to make a one-time gift or sign up to make recurring donations. That way, you won’t have to ever wonder again about the financial status of your household.
Sincerely,
[your name]

3. Monthly Giving Letter

Many church donations aren’t just one-time gifts. Plenty of givers contribute monthly—and that should be acknowledged.

Use this template to correspond with recurring givers.  

Dear [first name],
Thank you for being an active and faithful member of our church community. By giving to our church on a monthly basis, you’re showing that our church has a meaningful place in your heart. We just wanted to write this to let you know that you’re in our heart, too.
Donating to the church monthly allows us to preach the gospel, make disciples, and support others in our community who need help. Others like the local food bank and the nearby homeless shelter. We’re answering the cry of the needy, and it’s all thanks to contributors like you.
We earnestly appreciate your ongoing support and want to let you know we’re here for you. If there’s ever anything we can do for you and your family, don’t hesitate to reach out. You are a valued member of our church family. And you’re financial support is making a difference.
Sincerely,
[your name]

4. Year-End Giving Letter

At the end of each year, it’s customary to give your church supporters a summary of their gifts. The primary reason is for tax purposes, but it’s also a way to recap everything your church has done over the past year with their support.

Dear [first name],
You’re getting this letter because you gave to [church name] at some point during the past year. That might have been a one-time gift, or recurring donations. Either way, we want to thank you for your generous support. Every contribution helps.
One of the official reasons for this letter is for tax purposes. That’s right—you get to write these donations off on your taxes. Which is why we’ve included a summary of all the contributions you’ve made to our church this year.
But the other reason for this letter is to let you know what we’ve done with the money you gave. We take stewardship very seriously, which means we value spending our time and resources wisely.
During the year, our church supported local nonprofits, sent global missions teams, and baptised quite a few people. It was a great year for us—thanks in large part to donors like you.
So thank you for your support of our church, and we hope you’ll consider continuing to contribute to our mission in the coming year.
Sincerely,
[your name]  

5. Church Fundraising Letter

Sometimes you need to make a more significant financial push using tried and true church fundraising ideas. Some churches call this a Stewardship Campaign or a Church Capital Campaign. Either way, the goal is to raise a certain amount of money for a big project. And typically, a solid letter of appeal is an integral part of that.

Dear [first name],
God has a plan for everyone and everything. That includes you, and it includes [church name]. None of us can fully know God’s plan—the best we can do is pray and listen for clarity. Our church leadership has been doing just that and are excited to announce our latest church project.
[Detail the outline of the major church project—this could include a building campaign, or raising support for a global mission trip. Anything specific to your church that requires a fundraising letter. Be sure to include a fundraising goal so everyone knows what you’re shooting for.]
But we can’t pull this off without your support. Whether you give to the church on a regular basis, or just attend on occasion, we’re asking you to consider contributing to this massive undertaking prayerfully. It’s something we need our entire church community’s help with.
Even if you can’t make a large gift, know that every little bit helps. It’s more about coming together as a community united behind a common cause. We hope that you’ll consider making a donation towards this great step forward that we’re making together.
Sincerely,
[your name]

Tips when writing church donation letters

It’s not enough to just copy and paste this content and send away. The key to an effective church donation letter is a touch of personalization. Follow these tips to take your donation letters to the next level:

  • Examples: Add specific examples of how your church will use the donation. Tell a story about the work your church is doing in the community and connect that with giving.
  • Personalization: For regular donors, don’t be afraid to add a short, handwritten personal note. This shows that you’ve singled them out with praise.
  • Timeliness: Sending donation letters quickly reminds people you’re thankful for them. But this also takes organization and efficiency. All the more reason to use pre-written templates.
  • Storytelling: Everything is better with stories—including donation letters. Weave in a specific narrative of how your church is making a difference and how the money will be used.

There’s no one right or wrong way to write a donation letter or request contributions. You’ve got to do what is right for your church and congregation. But if you stick to these general tips, you’ll probably start to see some traction when it comes to giving.

What’s next?

Most people don’t love talking about money in church. But it’s a necessary and vital part of your church. And maximizing your efforts when it comes to donation letters will help make those conversations more comfortable. So what do you do next to put this into effect?

  • Customize these letters: Take the samples above and make them work for your church. Personalize the content. Remove the stuff that doesn’t sound genuine and add in stuff that does. Remember that these are just a starting point.
  • Create some systems: Develop processes that make it easy for you to replicate sending donation letters. Use a letter template that allows you to drop in names and details. Then develop guidelines for when these letters will be sent out.
  • Empower a champion: Find out who is going to be responsible for making these letters happen. Rather than thinking of this as adding more work to their plate, think about how you can elevate their work. This could be a staff member, or a volunteer.
  • Start sending: All of this will be for nothing if you don’t actually send out the letters. Take the time to get it right and get them into the hands of your church donors.

And if you’re looking for ways to grow your church’s giving capacity, Tithely can help.

We provide several different ways your church members can support your church financially—from online giving, text to give solutions, and giving kiosks.

Tithely’s systems make it as easy as possible for people to give to your church. Now all you need to start doing is generating a culture of gratitude. There’s nothing standing in your way. Go unleash generosity in your church.

How does your church use donation letters to spread generosity? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Editor's Note: This is a guest post from Robert Carnes. Robert is a writer and storyteller. He's the author of The Original Storyteller: Become a Better Storyteller in 30 Days. A former church communicator and nonprofit marketer, Robert works as a managing editor for Orange in Atlanta.

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8 Ways to Break Out of a Summer Giving Slump