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
Chris Sonksen, author of "Quit Church," shares three ways giving is good for you.
August 27, 2018
As a pastor, it breaks my heart to see people miss out on the joy and blessing of giving. God wants so much for your life and wants to give you so much. He is looking for a partnership between you and him.
One of my favorite examples of giving is the life and ministry of George Müller. He was the founder of the orphanage at Ashley Down, which housed over ten thousand children during his life. In addition, Pastor Müller established 117 schools that over 120,000 students attended, with a large portion of those students being orphans. He did all of this without ever asking for funding and without ever going into debt.
He was a firm believer in the Scriptures that speak of God’s blessing as you walk in his will. He gave of his life, time, and resources because he followed what God said, and in return, God poured out his favor and provision. Simply put, George Müller gave, and God blessed. That’s how it works.
We give, and he gives back.
We let go of what’s in our hands, and he lets go of what’s in his.
Every time the offering bucket goes by and we don’t honor him through the tithe, we are leaving so much on the table. There’s an abundance of God’s goodness and riches that he desires to pour into our lap, and we pass it by every time we let the offering plate pass us by.
When you give as God requires you to, you don’t lose, you win. Here are just a few examples of how you win.
God is a giver.
He loves to give.
It’s not just something he does; it’s who he is.
He is a God of extreme generosity.
I think of all the blessings in my life: my wife, my children, my family, the country I live in, the home I have, the finances that have been provided to me, the places I’ve traveled, the things I’ve seen, the car I drive, the freedom I experience—the list can literally go on and on.
The list could go on for you as well.
Sure, we’ve all had hard times, but we are blessed by the Creator.
Genesis 1:27 tells us that “God created human beings in his own image.” The word “image” comes from the Hebrew word tselem, meaning something like “his drawing or his representation.” Genesis is telling us that we are created in his outline. We are traced from his image.
Have you ever put your hand on a piece of paper and traced your hand? The tracing is the exact shape of your hand. This is what the Scripture is teaching us. We are the exact tracing of God. We are made to imitate his character. So if he is an extravagant, generous God, then we are to be extravagantly generous as well. Giving makes us like God.
I’ve seen a lot of people who aren’t Christian who are incredibly generous. What they do not realize is that they are made in God’s image and are simply tracing his character.
If you’re a Christian, then you have to realize that you can give and not be a Christ follower, but you can’t follow Christ and not give. It doesn’t work. It actually doesn’t make any sense.
If you follow God, if you imitate his character, if you strive to be in his likeness, you have to give. It’s who he is, and because he is a giver, we are to be givers as well.
Remember, you are tselem; you are an outline of God.
When we think of the word “worship,” we typically think of singing, especially singing the slower songs, and maybe raising our hands and closing our eyes. But worship is much more than that.
To worship means that we put the object of our worship above us. It’s an act of obedience to God that says, “You’re way above me.” Worship happens when we choose to forgive when we’d rather stay angry, when we choose to love when we’d rather hate, and when we choose to give when we’d rather spend that money on other things.
We obey him and follow what he says because he is first in our life. He is the voice of authority and the final word. That’s what it means to worship him.
This is why giving is such an important part of our worship. It is an act of obedience. It is letting God know that he genuinely has first place in our life. Jesus said in John 14:15, “If you love me, show it by doing what I’ve told you” (Message).
Throughout Scripture, God teaches on the subject of tithing, giving, and extravagant generosity. The first established church in the book of Acts was known more for its generosity than for its theology.
Often, we want to justify our lack of obedience in the area of giving by pointing out the other areas in which we have exercised obedience, as if obedience is some sort of multiple choice. This is selective obedience, picking and choosing the areas in which we will and will not follow Christ.
If he is not Lord of all, then he is not Lord at all.
You can’t pick and choose.
Think about that in the context of a marriage.
You can’t say, “I will love you, but I’m not going to honor you” or “I will honor you, but I’m not going to be faithful to you.” You can’t pick and choose in a marriage, to follow only a portion of the vow you committed to. It doesn’t work in a marriage, and it doesn’t work in a relationship with Christ.
The Bible says that “Satan disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14). This means that the enemy will disguise his voice. He will make you feel like what he is saying is good and right, when the truth is that he is only pulling you away from what God wants from you and for you.
We might say different things to ourselves:
God understands why I don’t give.
God sees my heart.
I give through my time.
My volunteering is my tithe.
I may not tithe, but I give to those I see in need.
I’ve seen churches misuse money, so I’m not going to give to my church.
All of these thoughts seem logical, not like a heart of disobedience, and that’s exactly what the angel of light wants you to believe. But the truth is that none of these are a reason to not tithe to the church you attend. None of them excuse you from the responsibility Jesus has placed on you to honor him with our personal finances.
Again Jesus said, “If you love me, show it by doing what I’ve told you” (John 14:15 Message). This request of Jesus is about worship. “If you love me, then give as I have asked you to. Do what I have told you.”
If you struggle in this area, if reading this makes you uncomfortable, I encourage you to step out. Just do it. Start now. Begin to follow Christ through your giving, and I promise you, he will not let you down. He is ready to pour out his blessing on those who trust in him.
My wife and I live near the beach in Southern California. Over the last few years, I have taken up surfing. I say that to people, and they say, “Wow, that sounds cool.” But you haven’t seen me surf; it isn’t that cool. I am lousy at it, but I love it.
You paddle out and then sit on your board and wait for the next set of waves. If you have ever surfed, ridden a boogie board, or bodysurfed, you know exactly what I’m talking about. You wait for a set of waves to come, and you take one in.
There have been countless waves over the years that I wish I would have taken but that I let go by me. You feel like you have missed out on such a good opportunity when you see the perfect wave go by. It’s frustrating, because you feel like that wave was designed just for you, and for whatever reason, you let it go by.
In the same way, there are blessings that God has perfectly designed for you, a treasure that only he can provide. Each time we don’t honor him by tithing, it’s like missing the perfect wave—we miss out on something so good.
The financial area of our Christian life is the same way. God expects you to do your part, to tithe faithfully, and then he will do his part by fulfilling his promise. In Malachi 3:10 God says that he will open up the windows of heaven and bless your life.
You paddle, he blesses.
That’s how it works.
Editor’s Note: Taken from Quit Church: Because Your Life Would Be Better if You Did by Chris Sonksen. Published by Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Copyright © 2018. Used by permission.
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.