Health and Growth

If You Want to Increase Engagement, Use a Church App

If engagement is down at your church, you could be facing a serious drop-off in attendance.

If You Want to Increase Engagement, Use a Church App
by

Paul Maxwell

If engagement is down at your church, you could be facing a serious drop-off in attendance.

When people are unengaged, they tend to disconnect, give less, and eventually leave. Declining engagement is nothing to take lightly. 

Here’s the bad news:

If people are already disengaging at your church, this means that more people probably feel the same way.

Here’s the good news:

With the right tools, church engagement is very easy to cultivate.

Your church app is the essential church engagement tool. Many pastors don’t understand the value of their church app, or they use a church app company that doesn’t give them engagement features.

Want the truth?

Churches that take engagement seriously have church apps that enable full interactive functionality. For example, Tithe.ly Apps an ensemble of features that tie over 8 different independent apps into a single app. 

Consider these church app features, and follow their strategies for engaging your church. When you do, you will see a spike in engagement, a deepening of community, and a grateful satisfaction among your members that you have been wanting for a long time.

1. Your church app enables digital note-taking (Evernote replacement)

Digital note-taking sounds like a weird tool that no one would use. But if you really think that, you’re not paying attention.

Think of the apps that are dominating the marketplace right now. 

Google Docs. Evernote. Things. Daily Journal. 

People love writing notes on their phones. What if your church app became your church members’ new Evernote?

That’s what the Tithe.ly App does. Plus, it can email a beautifully formatted PDF of any note to their email.

With Apps like this, who needs Moleskine?

2. Your church app cultivates small group interaction (Email replacement)

Ever get caught in one of those small group email chains that starts friendly, but, by the end, feels like 20 Nigerian princes trying to scam each other with memes? 

  • “Should I bring my award winning pie to small group?”
  • “No, that’s okay! Jacob is bringing cake.”
  • “You sure? It’s really good! How about next week?”
  • “Next week we are out of town. What about the week after?”
  • “The week after I’m gone, but…”

Don’t you just want to throw your computer out the window? 

At Tithe.ly, you can integrate your church app with our church management software to manage your small group and leave behind chain messages forever.. 

For instance, your small group leader can create an event, people can “sign up” for certain needs, and not a single email needs to be sent. Automated sign-up and participation means the small group community can spend less time going back and forth about the details of the meeting, and more time sharing life with one another.

3. Your church app creates higher event attendance (TicketHub Replacement)

Your church app can be an event registration and payment portal. 

Imagine having the power of TicketHub for your church within your app. Every membership class. Every pot luck. Every detail, automated through sign-ups, forms, and payment entry fields.

Once you create the event, you don’t have to coordinate with anyone for anything, or chase anyone down for any money.

Everything can be done through each member’s phone, with no added hassle.

When it’s easier to sign up for church events, more people will come to your events, which means that engagement will grow in your church.

4. Your church app increases giving (PayPal replacement)

Giving is native in Tithe.ly Apps. 

In fact, giving should be native in every church app.

But giving should be more than a feature. It should look sleek. It should be optimized for the latest iPhone so the App screen doesn’t look stretched. It should have recurring giving options, easy credit card integrations, and work with Apple Pay.

The more money you have, the easier it is to fund community and church events that draw people in the church together.

5. Your church app makes your sermons available (YouTube/iTunes replacement)

Your church app’s sermon player should look amazing. 

If it doesn’t, people will ask you to upload your sermon series to a podcast feed. Nobody likes using clunky-looking podcast or video software with glitchy features. 

Your members could just as easily go to YouTube to watch your sermons.

But what if your church members could watch your sermons from YouTube within your church app? That way, they will get used to using the app. More than that, if you remind your members of something in the sermon—to give, to register, to interact—your members will be able to do that directly in the app in which they are watching your sermon.

Can’t do that in YouTube or iTunes. 

The Tithe.ly Apps have this feature.

6. Your church app displays a dynamically updated calendar (iCal replacement)

iCal is notoriously difficult to sync with a multitude of calendars. 

Depending on your job, you might sync iCloud, Outlook, and GCal onto a single iCal calendar. When you do this, church events can get lost in the background.

In your church app, you should have a calendar that automatically updates from your website. The Tithe.ly App gives churches this ability. We’ve found that people often use the church app calendar more than iCal because it’s an easier interface. 

7. Your church app automatically updates from your website  

Most church apps require you to update everything twice. Upload your sermons twice. Type your summaries twice. Update your calendars twice.

You shouldn’t have to do this.

With Tithe.ly Apps, you only have to update your information once. When you do, that information will automatically populate your church app with the latest, correct information. Why make yourself work twice as hard when you’ve got ministry to do? 

More than that, when people know that the information on the church app is the latest information, they will be more likely to use it regularly.

8. Your church app frees up website real estate

Your church website is meant for first-time visitors. 

Your app is meant for member engagement. 

When your members start using your app, they no longer need your website. This means that you can optimize your website specifically for visitors. 

Your app will do all the work of equipping your members to engage. Then, you’ll be able to focus your website on acquiring new visitors. Getting new visitors is one great way of increasing engagement at your church.

Over to you

Every church suffers stagnant engagement at some point. 

The difference between the churches that die and the churches that grow is whether they do something about it.

In the 21st century, the thing to do is to get a church app and invest in making it the digital hub of your church community.

Refer to it constantly.

Make sure people are taking advantage of the feature-rich environment on the app.

And most importantly, make sure you get the best in class church app, Tithe.ly Apps

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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If You Want to Increase Engagement, Use a Church App