Health and Growth

Church Email Best Practices: 8 Strategies for Vibrant Church Email Engagement

Your church email list can be a hugely valuable asset to your church growth — but only if you implement these 8 strategies.

Church Email Best Practices: 8 Strategies for Vibrant Church Email Engagement
by

Paul Maxwell

Email can be one of the greatest assets or liabilities of your church, depending on how to use it.

Email can accomplish several important things for your church’s relationship with its members:

  • Emailing your church can humanize your church’s experience with “the church.”
  • Emailing your church can help your members feel connected to what’s going on.
  • Emailing your church can increase your volunteer team.
  • Emailing your church can increase giving by letting your members know what special ministries you’re building.

The list is endless.

Giving. Volunteers. Engagement. Care. Connection. Email can be the beating heart of how your members feel connected to the life of your church.

However, if you misuse your email by emailing too often (or not enough), sending irrelevant information, or sending badly designed emails (this is is also endless), then your members may begin in unsubscribe, ignore, or even worse, label you as spam.

There are several important best practices to make sure your email strategy builds (rather than sabotages) your relationship with your members. 

Here are 8 highly effective strategies to build a vibrant church email relationship with new visitors and long-time members alike.

1. Use email opt-in on all your church forms

Make it extremely easy to opt in to your church email updates.

Every time someone visits your website, registers for an event, or asks for information about your church, make a signup form available for them to get weekly updates.People want to be in the know.

If you make your church email list difficult to subscribe to, people won’t know how to get the most up-to-date information about your church’s events, opportunities, and giving agendas. 

Liberally include your email opt-in forms in as many places as possible.

One simple way to do this is to include a link to a signup landing page, as well as to embed an email signup form in the footer of your website. That way, every digital communication someone receives from your church will prompt them with an opportunity to stay connected.

2. Limit yourself to one weekly church email

People don’t need more than one email a week.

If your weekly email is designed well, contains links to more information, and is compactly written, people won’t feel the need to dig through sporadic emails or through hundreds of words of texts to find the information they need.

The worst thing you can do with your email list is to become an annoyance to your congregation.

The easiest way to avoid this is to pick a single day on which to send your email, and send it on that day every single week.

Most churches send emails on Tuesday and Wednesday, because it gives the staff enough time to send congregants an update on the Sunday service. More than that, mid-week emails are a great opportunity to remind your congregation about what’s happening at church when the church may not be top-of-mind.

3. Segment your church email audiences

Split up your email list by tagging people according to their level of involvement in your church.

  • Hasn’t yet visited.
  • First-time visitor.
  • Interested in joining.
  • New member.
  • Long-time member.
  • Small Group #1.
  • Small Group #2.

Assign multiple tags to people so that you can easily send group-relevant emails to people who may need information that isn’t appropriate or meaningful for the entire congregation.

In this sense, it is entirely appropriate to send out more than one email per week according to the specific needs people have. Email recipients separate these two kinds of emails into two groups: For Everyone, and For Me.

It’s acceptable to send one general email to the entire subscriber base as a weekly newsletter, and to send one “For Me” each week to individual groups.

4. Write emails “From” the pastor as often as possible

The “writer” of the general church newsletter email should be the pastor. This is a way for the pastor to personally connect with people he may not have had the time to speak with during or after the Sunday service.

This practice also cultivates a sense of accessibility to the pastor. This is true even if response emails are directed to the church secretary. Writing the general newsletter “From” the senior pastor gives people a sense that, should they need to contact the pastor, there is a pipeline of communication that enables them to do this.

5. Repeat important information

People need to hear the same information more than once.

While it’s easy to be fearful of annoying your readers, people are often more annoyed when they miss important information.

Make sure to repeat important information in your emails. This is particularly true for event sign-ups, one-time (or sparsely held) classes, and deadline-driven actions your congregation needs to take.

It’s your responsibility to make sure that they don’t miss this information, so don’t be afraid of repeating this information in more than one email.

This will require that you begin mentioning important deadlines up to two or three months before the actually deadline occurs. 

6. Invite people to subscribe to text updates in your email

If your church has a text messaging service that enables you to communicate with your congregation via SMS, you should provide a link that enables people to opt in to this service at the bottom of every email.

The copy can read something like this: “To receive important updates via text message, sign up here: [LINK].” 

In fact, it would be appropriate to make this opt in the primary message of one of your general church newsletter emails in order to kick things off.

7. Send your church email mid-week

As we’ve already mentioned, Tuesday and Wednesday are optimal days to send your general church newsletter. 

While people may be distracted by their jobs and families at this time, this actually presents an even greater need to receive a communication from your church.

Your congregation need spiritual encouragement. They need reminders. They need church-relevant information to be brought top-of-mind in order to discuss with their colleagues, families, and accountants.

If you send an email on Monday, you may not have enough time to design and digest everything that happened during the Sunday service.

If you send an email on Thursday or Friday, your church may be too busy planning for the weekend or finishing up work to respond to any of the action items in your email.

And last, and certainly least, nobody opens their email account or takes serious action on Saturdays.

8. Give people spiritual encouragement in your church email

You don’t have to use church email merely to communicate the raw data of church events and needs. It doesn’t all have to be news and updates. Especially mid-week, people are often spiritually tired.

Include a spiritual note from the pastor. Tie each email together with a theme—generosity, legacy, service. Give your congregants something to reflect on as Sunday’s message sinks into the back of their mind throughout the week.

This spiritual message may become the very reason that people look forward to receiving and opening your church emails altogether.

Conclusion

Use these church email best practices to grow a healthy relationship with your church through email.

If you stick to these guidelines, not only will your church sign up for your emails—they will look forward to opening them.

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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Church Email Best Practices: 8 Strategies for Vibrant Church Email Engagement