10 Ways to Maximize Your Year-End Offering
Year-end giving is a crucial time for your church. Here are 10 ways you can maximize end of the year giving in your church.
November 14, 2019
The way people make donations continues to change. Here are 4 trends your church needs to know based on the 2017 “Charitable Giving Report” by Blackbaud Institute.
March 2, 2018
The life of your church is affected by many trends in your community and around the world.
From employment rates in your community to trends in the way people in your church shop and give, your church needs to be able to adapt to these changes.
So, how can your church be flexible in our rapidly changing times?
As a church leader, it’s vital for you to have your finger on the pulse of the life of your church as well as broader trends taking place. At Tithe.ly, we understand you may not (nor want to) have the time to keep up with economic trends. You have received a call from God to do the work of the ministry, and we want to help you fulfill your calling.
To help you stay up-to-date with the latest church giving trends in giving that will influence you and your church, we want to share with you four trends you can’t afford to ignore from the 2017 Charitable Giving Report by Blackbaud Institute. Regardless of the size, age, or location of your church, you will find something practical and relevant for you and your ministry.
In 2017, overall charitable giving in the United States increased 4.1% on a year-over-year, which marks the sixth consecutive year that Blackbaud has observed an increase in giving. Knowing that more people in the United States have been compelled to support many nonprofit organizations is a cause for celebration.
Even though giving to nonprofit organizations increased overall in 2017, giving to religious organizations is not keeping pace with overall giving. Yes, donations made to religious organizations do account for 32% of total giving. But the amount given to religious organizations is down from a high of 57% of total giving from 1980-89.
If your church has experienced a decline in overall giving, don’t close your doors just yet. There are practical things you can do to build a generous church culture.
Here are some helpful articles you can read to help you think through your situation:
According to the 2017 Charitable Giving Report, “7.6% of overall fundraising revenue…was raised online.” The amount of overall giving online continues to climb steadily. But, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, online giving lags slightly behind the amount of e-commerce sales.
Below, we highlight a few reasons why we believe more people will continue to shop and give online. What is more, as more churches and nonprofit organizations provide online and mobile giving options for their members and donors, the amount of overall fundraising online will continue to climb and eventually be similar to e-commerce sales.
As you lead the members of your church to steward their resources, it’s essential for your church to provide ways for them to give that is similar to the way they bank, shop, and interact with other people, brands, and nonprofit organizations online. In other words, your church should consider providing your members with the opportunity to give via their phone or online if you’re not already.
Now, one thing that’s important to highlight from this report is that faith-based nonprofits experienced a significant increase in online giving, which leads us to our next point.
According to the 2017 Charitable Giving Report, online giving grew 18.1% among faith-based nonprofits, which is a significant increase. But there’s a good chance your church did not observe such an increase in online giving. We know this for two important reasons:
As a church, it’s essential to start offering your members and visitors the opportunity to give online. We are in the midst of a radical transformation in the way we make payments or give money. Today, more and more people in the United States are using their debit or credit cards, apps on their smartphones, and fewer checks and cash. Moving forward, the number of people who carry cash or use checks for anything will continue to decrease dramatically.
In general, the people in your church shop and give online and oftentimes, they use their smartphones to do this (more on this later).
In the meantime, your church will experience an increase in giving when you provide your members with an opportunity to give online.
Mobile giving continues to climb fast.
In 2017, donations made on mobile devices totaled more than 21% of online giving, which is up from 17% in 2016. At Tithe.ly, we expect to see the amount of giving done with mobile devices to continue to increase rapidly.
In your church, most people probably own a smartphone. As of 2015, two-thirds of Americans owned one. For most people, their smartphone doesn’t sit idly in their pocket. According to a study conducted by Asurion, the average American checks their phone 80 times a day. From checking the news, scrolling their social media feeds, to shopping and banking, the people in your church are using their phone for many daily activities—including giving.
How should your church respond?
The increased ownership and usage of smartphones means that your church must offer a mobile giving solution for your members. “Mobile-friendly is linked to being donor-friendly,” according to the team at Blackbaud.
To help the members of your church to best steward their resources, then you’ll need to meet them where they’re at by giving them the ability to use a mobile app to give.
Is your church prepared for the trends in giving? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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:
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.
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.
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]!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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?
And if you’re looking for ways to grow your church’s giving capacity, Tithely can help.
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.