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
Graham Beynon, author of "Money Counts," shares six things God didn't actually say about money
July 9, 2018
When it comes to money, God has had a lot of words put into his mouth. So as well as looking at what the wonderful, merciful, saving, real God does say, when it comes to money, we must also know what he does not say.
That could sound rather negative, but for each wrong view, there is a good and right view to replace it with. But we’re going to begin with where we can go wrong.
Financial blessing simply is not promised to Christians today.
Having said that, it is true that a general principle does remain: God will still bless our obedience. Think of Jesus’ words to his followers when they said they’d left everything to follow him:
“Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life.” (Mark 10:29-30)
Jesus is reassuring them that they will never lose out. God is no one’s debtor! You cannot give to God and end up feeling like you’ve got the rough end of the bargain. God blesses our giving.
Jesus can’t mean that if we give up our home we’ll own a hundred more homes. It’s hard to see how that works literally for brothers and sisters. He must mean that God will give us blessing in a hundred homes being open to us, and knowing new family in the church.
Some Christians view money negatively. Since money is so dangerous and deceitful, better simply not to have any, they say. But as a whole theology of money, this isn’t right: God does not love poverty.
In fact, this is the opposite error of the prosperity gospel—it is a “poverty gospel.” Not that the gospel will make you poor, but that you should be poor if you believe the gospel.
We could easily find ourselves excusing selfishness and indulgence. But the key point is to see that the answer does not lie in shunning money, but in using money rightly.
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We do not deny the enjoyment of good parts of creation: a quality cup of coffee, a good computer game, a decent meal out, a high-end mobile, or a relaxing holiday. Of course it can be wrong to enjoy these things—it all depends on our heart attitude.
Perhaps you might not be tempted by the prosperity gospel or the poverty gospel. Perhaps you were sitting comfortably as you read the previous two sections. But we can easily create another category all of our own—where we believe that God likes what I do with my money.
We must not equate our personal financial decisions with godliness and use them as the yardstick by which to judge. What we need is a good deal of self-awareness and honesty, respect for other people doing things differently, and the ability to talk about financial decisions with love and straightforwardness.
It’s worth asking ourselves some questions:
What is the positive other side of the coin (so to speak!) here? Simply that it is perfectly possible that God does like my approach because I have tried to be honest and generous and self-aware.
Of course that should mean I acknowledge that God can like other people’s approach as much as I like mine. Godly discipleship with money does not have to look the same for every person.
This is a tricky one, but it cuts to the foundation of how we see the world. Does God approve of the hard-working man or woman who pays their own way through life? We should begin by saying “Yes!”
People should earn their own living (2 Thess. 3:0). Proverbs also encourages us to work and earn:
“All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.” (Prov. 14:23)
God does approve of hard working and earning. In some circles that needs to be said, because people feel embarrassed about it.
But here’s the key issue: whether we will recognise and praise, or deny and ignore, the source of our prosperity.
All we have comes from God: our time, our energy, our gifts, the natural resources we work with, the power we use, everything.
So, yes, God does indeed like us to work and earn, and not be dependent on others if we are able to. But we must not think we are ever independent of God.
It is great when people give lots of money! I mean it. It really is fantastic and I want to encourage it. Many rich Christians have done great things with their money down the years: funded the start of new churches; founded training colleges; paid for orphanages. All are fantastic.
But according to Jesus, it is just as fantastic when people give very small amounts of money:
Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few pence. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:41-44)
For Jesus, the quality of the gift is not to do with how large it is. It is both to do with the proportion we give and the heart with which we give.
We can easily start to think we have improved our standing with God if we’ve given a certain amount. We can easily feel proud or self-assured because we’ve been generous, like the Pharisee in Jesus’ story who based some of his certainty that God liked him on the fact that “I … give a tenth of all I get” (Luke 18:12). We can start to think God owes us because we’ve given so much (which is falling into the “prosperity gospel” trap). We must beware all these tendencies in our hearts.
We can indeed please God and honour him with our money no matter how much of it we have.
The cash-strapped single parent, the person on income support, the student, and everyone else who is struggling to make ends meet can please and honour God with their giving just as much as the financially comfortable middle-class family and the high flying businessman.
God notices all giving, and joyful, sacrificial giving pleases him, no matter the number on the cheque.
This is where we set ourselves (and sometimes others) a certain bar to reach or expected quota, and then say we are being godly with our money.
Perhaps the most common is: God doesn’t mind as long as… I give 10%. Once I’ve given my 10%, I can do what I like with the rest of my income. T
The danger of this approach is thinking that once I’ve ticked a certain box then God’s claims on my life, my priorities and values, and what I give myself to, all evaporate in the financial world.
Here are some other examples of this approach:
God doesn’t mind as long as…
All of these can fulfill a basic requirement we have set ourselves and then give us freedom for everything else. But it is not what God says about how to handle money. And God has a claim on all our money, all our possessions, all our time and all energy.
The other positive side of the coin is that we can ask how we honour God with all our money. Our whole can be dedicated to him and we can learn how our giving, spending and saving is all part of our discipleship.
Wrong thinking always leads to wrong living. That’s as true with money as with anything else. Our thinking on money can go wrong in all these ways and that will change how we live. But wonderfully, the opposite is true, too: right thinking leads to right living.
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.