Health and Growth

5 Ways to Reach (and Retain) More People This Easter

Transform your Easter service from a seasonal bump to explosive growth. Here are 5 proven tactics for doing it.

5 Ways to Reach (and Retain) More People This Easter
by

Paul Maxwell

Here’s the cost of making your Easter service a normal church service:

  • Visitors won’t come back next week.
  • Visitors won’t come back for the next Easter service.
  • Members will want to take visiting family to another church.
  • You lose the opportunity to launch an initiative while everyone is there (like online giving, a missions project, or a small group network).
  • Year after year, your church will shrink as a consequence of the above realities.

I know you want to grow.

But church growth begins with optimizing your Easter service.

Here’s why:

  • If your service is lackluster, attendees won’t want to see how milquetoast your “normal” service is.
  • If the pastor doesn't nail it in on the Easter service, it hurts his credibility as a professional concerned with quality throughout the rest of the year.
  • If you don’t capitalize on the Easter service to capture visitor contact information, then you are the reason the church isn’t growing.

Ready to make the most of your Easter service?

Here are a few tips for planning your Easter service that will keep visitors coming back, members encouraged, and your church growing.

1. Set a goal Easter conversions

If you have zero goals, that’s exactly what you’ll accomplish with an Easter service: zero.

Even a “bump” in attendance won’t mean anything.

If you don’t have a mission to keep first-time guests coming back, you will feel overwhelmed by the idea of converting them to members.

If your mission isn’t to convert visitors to members from your Easter service, your church will be like a gym in January: empty by next month.

What if this year’s Easter attendance could be your weekly attendance?

Then, next year’s Easter attendance would be even bigger.

And when you convert next year’s visitors, you’ll be even bigger.

That’s called growth.

But growth only happens as a result of execution.

And execution requires a strategy.

And strategy must be guided by a mission.

Commit to converting X number of visitors into members within the year.

What is your number?

Pick the number. Say it out loud. Share it with your team. Share it with your church in the weeks leading up to Easter. Make a commitment to grow X number of Easter visitors into members.

Print out high-quality promotional cards for your Easter service and ask members to share them with co-workers, neighbors, and their family and friends.

When you share your mission with the church, people will find ways to fulfill that mission in ways you could never have anticipated.

Say it from the pulpit:

“Our goal is to convert 10 Easter service visitors into new members in order to grow our family. This Easter, we are going to give a powerful evangelistic message. Invite everyone you with whom you want to share Christ.”

2. Devise a strategy for your mission

Once you know how many visitors you want to convert at your Easter service, you can devise a strategy for capturing visitor contact data, reaching out, and incorporating them into the church.

Your strategy should include:

  • A comprehensive timeline for each visitor, from First Visit to Membership.

This timeline should include goals to achieve and things to avoid for the first visit, first contact, second visit, first non-service event, and membership class enrollment.

  • A technology to capture visitor data.

Without the appropriate technology, you’re hanging all of your church growth on your secretary’s Excel skills. In the 21st century, you should be using a church management software and app to manage information,  capture visitor data in the same system, and engage your church.

  • Designated time, money, and designated personnel to have one staff person take each new visitor out to a meal or coffee.

Police officers call this “making positive citizen contact.” Nobody likes walking in and out of a church like a grocery store, without making connections in real life.

3. Set up kiosk stations

If your church doesn’t already have kiosks, then the idea of kiosks might sound a little hokey.

Quite the opposite.

If you don’t have kiosks, your church is hokey.

If you use Tithe.ly’s ChMS as your church management software, then you can turn any tablet or computer into an instant kiosk.

Here are three tips to get new visitors to sign up in your kiosk so that you can capture their contact information:

  1. Giveaway

Offer every entrant an entry in a raffle for something costly, like an iPad or an Amazon gift card.

  1. Attendants

Set up multiple kiosk stations with real attendants devoted to requesting people log in.

  1. Unique information

Aside from getting email, phone and address, it’s important to get unique information that helps you to make a positive first contact with them.

For example, list programs your church offers, and say, “Select programs in which you’d be interested.” You could also ask, “Which of the following reflects your experience with church?” followed by options such as, “I’m a member at a church,” “I am a Christian, but looking for a church home,” and “I’m not religious and I’m here with family.” This will help you to be a better minister of Christ’s love to each of these people. Another good one: “What are your hobbies?”

4. Follow up with your visitors

It’s very important for you to follow up excellently with visitors.

What does this mean?

If you do two things, you could blow visitors out of the water and win them over quite easily.

Here’s the secret strategy:

  • Be personal
  • Show that you care

What does it mean to be personal?

Write a personal note.

Make a coffee date.

Mention things they brought up in their Kiosk check-in (church history, interests, etc.)

If people feel like you care, then you’ve done more for them than most people in their lives. That gives you credibility with them.

Ditch the generic letter.

Write something personal.

5. Host post-service Easter festivities

Many churches feel uncomfortable hosting Easter egg hunts and Easter parties with a cookout and field games.

You shouldn’t feel uncomfortable doing this at your Easter service.

People want to do this.

People are disconnected, lonely, depressed, and anxious.

Show them what it looks like to enjoy God’s good gifts on the Lord’s day.

Invite them into a community that isn’t just solemn, boring, and self-interested by giving visitors and members alike a party that will, at the very least, guarantee they return next Easter.

Over to you

Easter is your moment as a church to put your best foot forward and say: “This is who we are. We care. We try. We like to have fun. We love Jesus. We want to serve the community. We would love for you to come back and join our family.”

Don’t let the opportunity pass by to grow as a church.

Don’t let this be another Easter that swells your attendance and then returns to “normal.”

God commands his church to make disciples (Matt. 28:19), so don’t let yourself be satisfied with the status quo.

Grow.

Make a conversion goal for your Easter service visitors.

Get Tithe.ly’s ChMS before Easter.

Integrate Tithe.ly’s ChMS into your Easter service strategy.

Follow up with personalization and care.

Growth really is as simple as taking the right steps this Easter service.

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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5 Ways to Reach (and Retain) More People This Easter