Health and Growth

Get More People to Download Your Custom Church App with these 3 Incredibly Simple Tips

We want you to consider the three keys to winning with your church app.

Get More People to Download Your Custom Church App with these 3 Incredibly Simple Tips
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Everyone wants to be a homeowner one day.

But have you ever ever bought a home? Have you gone through that process? Have you sat down at a desk with your agent, the mortgage broker, and the seller’s agents? Did you pour over the hundreds of pages of documents, releases, liabilities, and financials? Did you get a hand cramp writing out your full name and signing every document? Did you begin to plat with it a bit toward then end when you got tired of signing your name and just decided that your signature could become a doodle?

Though we all may want to become a homeowner one day, we don’t make the process very easy on ourselves.

The same can be said for the systems and processes within the church.

This can be especially true with the media we encourage our guests and members to use. By now, every church in America has a web presence. While some are strong and others are weak, most churches in America have some semblance of a web presence.

But the landscape is shifting. Though 73% of all web traffic is consumed via mobile devices, 92% of all mobile device activity is done through apps.

That means that at any given time, almost your entire audience is consuming information on their phones, within an app.

What are you doing to meet that need?

Some churches decide to chart their own course, say no to apps and a strong web presence, but we firmly believe that if the church is the hope of the world, then we need to meet our people where they are at.

More and more, they are on their phones and in apps. And so, we meet them there.

But we also want to help you meet them them. More so, we want to help you meet them there in a strategic and effective manner. There are thousands of church apps available in the App Store and on Google Play. There are some that are top-notch and others that need to seriously consider a do-over. We aren’t here to judge. But we are here to help you start and end right, and help every person who interacts with your app take their next right step with your church. With this end in mind, we want you to consider the three keys to winning with your church app.

Get More People to Download Your Custom Church App with these 3 Incredibly Simple Tips …

1. Have a Narrow Focus

Narrow your focus

What we see more often than not, are churches who think they need to communicate absolutely everything through their apps. That’s not the case though. What they need to communicate is a sampling of their church from a 30,000 foot view. Communicate who you are as a church, what you value, what’s coming up next, and how people can take their next right step with you.

Perhaps more than that though, is to rethink your app strategy. You see, most people think an app is an interpretation of their website. While the website is used primarily for an external and disconnected audience that is driven through SEO, your app is to be used primarily as a tool for those that call your church home. This is a distinction that you need to understand across the board and make changes to reflect.

Your website and app strategy cannot be a “one shoe fits all” strategy. They are unique platforms with unique audiences, and therefore your strategy must be unique for both.

How can you have a narrow focus on your app? By following these three rules:

  1. Know your audience. Your website is for your external audience, while your app is for your internal audience.
  2. Know what your audience is looking for. Your app needs to give your internal audience clear ways to connect with their church, your content, and generosity.
  3. Know what you don’t need to say. If you can get away without saying something, then don’t say anything. Mom always used to say, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say it at all.” Well, if you don’t have anything necessary at all, then don’t say it. Keep a narrow focus and make sure everything you do say have a clear next right step.

2. Keep it Simple

Keep it Simple

In an increasingly disconnected world where advertisements drown out life and our eyes our focused on that little screen in our hands, we need to remember that our audience is looking for a place connect and belong to. But do you ever feel like we as a church are throwing too many things at our audience, hoping something will connect with them? It’s so easy to become overwhelmed, that eventually we just want to check out and disconnect.

In order to avoid this, we need to remember to keep our app strategy simple. Not only does our content strategy need to be simplified, our app interface must be simple as well.

You can’t give your audience a dozen menu items to choose from, twice that in clickable images, and even more options once they land on a specific screen. If the average person is willing to give you fifteen seconds of attention at a time, then you have got to make their next right step incredibly easy to find. Stop throwing spaghetti at a wall and simplify your user interface.

How can you keep it simple? You can keep it simple by following these three rules.

  1. Keep all your options within the initial screen of your app. That means all your menu options and clickable images must be right within the palm of your user’s hands. Don’t make people look for something, don’t make people scroll below to what else you have to say; say it right from the start.
  2. Connect with your audience with images. Images connect with people seven times more than just plain text content. While it is easy to overwhelm your audience through the use of images (see the warning from above), they want to connect with you and images are one of the best ways to do so. Why is there such a race among top-tier phone providers to have the best cameras on their phones? It’s because people connect with images. They want to remember what they did, who they did it with, and keep playing that loop in their mind. You can help them connect by sharing your story through pictures, especially ones that you have carefully curated on the ground.
  3. Remember: People care more about your story, than they do about your pictures. They download your app for a reason, didn’t they? They did it because they know you, trust you, and want to stay well informed as an active participant in your church. Don’t forget about your story when you create and manage your app. Always make sure you are articulating your unique space in the community, and people will continue to buy into the vision and mission of your church every step along the way.

3. Have a Clear Next Right Step

Everything you do has next right steps

We can have the best story, the cleanest app, and the most visually appealing interface. But if we don’t have clear next right steps, then we have failed at meeting the needs of our audience. In fact, you have made the job of connecting with your church all the more difficult for the people you are serving.

But what would happen if you had clear next right steps at every location of your app? Not only would you get more engagement online, you would get more engagement in person. You see, your website and app are the digital front doors to your audience, and it’s your job to make it easy for them to walk through.

If you are promoting an event on your app, then your audience’s next right step should be a form so they can sign up to be involved in it. Does every event have a form to fill out? Does it have an email to write to or a phone number to call? Or are you just shouting information at them, as if you’re speaking through a megaphone? Your people want to connect; it’s your job to make it easy to do just that.

Everything you do should have a clear next right step. Here’s three rules on how you do it:

Every page has a call to action. Yes, even your about page has a call to action. Why? Because people want to know how they can stay involved. Take them to another page, have them complete an email form so they can get notices of every upcoming event. You need to growth-hack your way into their inboxes, cell phones, and push notifications settings. Make sure you are doing that every step of the way.Every call to action has a segmented approach. People only opt-in to what they want to be a part of. If someone wants to learn more about the church, then only allow them to opt-into that specific list, and not another list or a general one. If you are able to segment your approach, then you can expect about a 14% increase in engagement among your audience. Remember, we live in a culture where there are an infinite amount of choices for pretty much everything. We cannot afford to turn our nose to this desire, but we can choose to be proactive to our audience’s desires and make every effort to customize their experience.Every approach ends with an engagement. From walking through the doors of a house for someone’s very first time at Growth Group, to making their first recurring donation through their app, your win must be defined by someone taking their next right step. If you have done your job right, then the funnels you have created will strategically led your audience to make a decision. When they do, your church will benefit because of it, but ultimately, so will your audience.

Your church app is just a tool.

How you use it and how your audience uses it, will ultimately tell the story as to how effective a tool it is. But if you can remember the three keys we discussed today, then you have set yourself up for success. And as people engage with you more and more online, on your app, and in person, your story becomes their story, and when that happens, it’s most definitely is God’s story.

Thanks for letting us be a part of it!

Get a great custom church app today!

Don’t have a custom church app for your church yet, but want to learn more? Check out the video below and then see how you can get started for $0!

 

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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Get More People to Download Your Custom Church App with these 3 Incredibly Simple Tips