How Cryptocurrency Is Changing Church Giving for the Better
Read this article for the definitive guide on giving and receiving cryptocurrency gifts at your church.
November 20, 2019
Use these 7 tactics to transform the financial stability of your church through its holiday giving trends.
July 2, 2019
As a church leader, do you have trouble relating the beauty of holidays with fickle church giving when church members are on vacation.
Some holidays come by, and giving goes up.
Others come by and giving drastically decreases for a month.
Summer giving slump, anyone?
While it would be nice to be able to focus purely on the sanctity of Christian holy days to honor God, without thinking about the church’s financial status for a moment, that simply will never be the case.
Holidays and giving are irrevocably linked.
But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
Because here’s the thing—giving to the church is a sacred act.
It’s a response to a call from God to support his work and his people.
Giving follows a pattern of participation in the same great Apostolic tradition from which the Christian holidays were born.
Therefore, holidays and giving naturally, theologically, and Christianly go hand in hand.
So then, how should you think about giving during the holidays?
What’s the best way to correlate these two realities without, on the one hand, making every single holiday a reason to give over and above and, on the other hand, an awkwardness about giving during the holiday season?
How can you tie together holidays and giving naturally to increase your church’s resources for expanding Christ’s kingdom, get new people walking in the doors, and meeting the needs of your community?
Seven realities help us to better understand what this relationship is and how to integrate it into the inner life of the church.
Let’s dive right in.
Holidays represent key moments in the liturgical year when the church reflects on unfolding gospel of Christ throughout redemptive history.
From Old Testament festivals to their Christianization in the New Testament—Passover and Pentecost, for example—these holy days prompt believers to remember God’s faithfulness to his people.
And why do we celebrate God’s faithfulness to people of the past?
Because his past faithfulness is always future-bent:
“Remember His covenant forever, The word which He commanded to a thousand generations” (1 Chron. 16:15).
The same God who kept his word to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the people of Israel, keeps his promises today to those who are in Christ (Gal. 3:16).
Everyone is familiar with “Christmas gifts.” But there is a much richer history of the church manifesting and exemplifying generosity for and to the world.
The church has always practiced “almsgiving.”
he word “alm” meaning “mercy,” indicating a free, no-strings-attached, charitable gift to those in need. The church has always construed almsgiving as a virtue. Even in Judaism, the term for almsgiving was tzedakah, which is literally the Hebrew word meaning “righteousness.”
While the pagan philosophers debated whether to live selfishly or selflessly, the people of God always had a system of routine—or, recurring—gifts of mercy to those without the means to support themselves.
From the most ancient Jewish practices to the early church, to Thomas Aquinas, and through to the Reformation and the Puritans, almsgiving has always been a practice that is associated especially with the holy days.
This is, of course, all rooted in a tradition of responding with gratitude to the same God who has provided mercifully for his people throughout history. God’s own generosity to Israel in the wilderness and to the world in Christ through the gospel prompts a response toward those, like us, without hope, so that “Your heart shall not be grieved when you give” (Deut. 15:10).
The holidays are a time when loss, absence, and lack are really felt.
Holidays generally prompt consumption, because they are festivals—literally feast days—that promote celebrating God’s good gifts in the form of food, which symbolizes God’s generosity to his people.
During this time of abundance, the church should be on a special mission to include those who cannot afford to purchase food for the holidays so that they too can celebrate God’s faithfulness to them, even in seasons of lack.
The church can be on mission during the holidays in at least three ways.
First, the church can host a communal meal for the congregation which feeds all who register—and, congregants can sponsor meals for others who can’t afford it. This can easily be done in Tithe.ly Events—including a registration and payment form—and by using this, you can store newcomer contact information in Tithe.ly ChMS.
Second, the church can collectively decide to host similar meals, but during small group. This would be a time for small groups to invite new visitors—or newcomers who want to get plugged in—to a more intimate church setting that helps them to experience God’s generosity on a personal level in someone’s home.
Third, a church can partner with a local mercy ministry or homeless shelter to either sponsor or volunteer to help feed the homeless.
The holidays can either increase or decrease giving in your church.
The holidays can increase giving in your church by prompting a spirit of generosity—especially around times such as Easter and Christmas. This is especially true for holidays during which congregants bring family and friends who don’t attend church, who often feel that this is the single time during which they give to a religious institution.
The holidays can decrease giving in your church because holidays can often prompt travel. When congregants travel, they often aren’t thinking about tithing. This is one crucial reason why it’s essential to provide mobile giving, online giving, and recurring giving.
One way to soften the blow of holiday travel on church tithing is to set up a digital software in your church to automate recurring giving.
Tithe.ly Give is one of the best ways to do this.
From mobile giving, online giving, church apps, and recurring giving, your congregants simply enter their card, bank account, or Apple Pay information to set up a gift—say, $100 per week, or $200 on custom pay days—so that, even during travel, the church is still enabled to do kingdom work.
Holidays can always be leveraged to create resources for the church—which can be translated into influence in your community and on the culture for the sake of the kingdom.
How can you make holidays an opportunity for your ministries to become resourced with abundance it’s only dreamed of? A few ways. And none of them will make your skin crawl.
First, show people exactly why they should give.
Pick a specific ministry and a specific face that exemplifies the needs of that ministry, and highlight that picture during your service. Craft your message and your pitch so that people are compelled to give.
Second, make it ridiculously easy for people to give from their phones.
You can pass the plate—it never hurts. But you should set up Tithe.ly Give and, in the middle of your service, instruct people to download the app, set up their credit card information, and give to the cause.
This may sound like an awkward and tacky move. Trust me—the right picture, paired with a well-honed pitch, will make people feel comfortable with some of the logistical talk of downloading an app and entering their credit card information. Congregants do understand. More than that, they want to understand how best to give.
Don’t be embarrassed when you walk people through setting up digital giving in your church in order to prompt a special holiday-specific gift—it will pay off dividends, and it will make people more comfortable with the technology so that they can later set up a recurring tithe to the church.
Giving is part of discipleship.
Combine the sacredness of the holiday and the importance of giving to God in a single celebratory event service.
Multiple passages in Scripture speak in concert to help us get a better glimpse into the connection between generosity and spiritual maturity:
“Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to” (Deut. 15:10).
“Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself call out and not be answered” (Prov. 21:13)
“Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed, for he shares his bread with the poor” (Prov. 22:9).
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:19-21).
God cares about your finances, and he cares about resourcing the church do to the work he has called them to do.
In fact, the holidays are the perfect time to connect spiritual maturity about one’s finances with the ministry capacity of the church. This is one of the reasons God instituted festivals—to unify his people, and to lift up the downtrodden to share collectively in a celebration of God’s evergreen faithfulness.
How will your church celebrate God’s faithfulness during the next holiday on Sunday?
Will it capitalize on the God-made connection between holy festivals and generosity, or will it go through another slump on a wish and a prayer?
Take seriously the potential that holiday giving holds for your church growth.
If you fail to do so, you may be leaving ministry potential on the table that your congregants would be eager to catalyze, given the right well-crafted prompt.
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.