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Planting a church is never easy.
There are many challenges a church planting team will need to overcome, and there’s one threat often lurking beneath the surface ready to close the doors of a church plant—money.
Regardless of the church planting model you and your team chose or the denomination or network you’re affiliated with, your church plant will have financial needs. You’ll have a variety of fees you’ll need to cover, such as rent, equipment, insurance, and salaries to name just a few.
It costs (a lot of) money to plant a church, and the length of time it takes to raise the funds you need can take significantly longer than you expected. Not raising the financial support you need or building a generous church culture to sustain your efforts is one of the primary reasons many church plants don’t succeed.
“Most churches fail within three years,” remarked Andrew Jennings, the director of production for Kalos Church. Andrew went on to say, “We didn’t want to fail within the first three years due to a lack of financial support, so we put together an extensive financial plan and went after it.”
Before diving into Kalos’ partnership with Tithe.ly, let’s take a brief look at Kalos Church.
Kalos Church is a church plant outside of Seattle, WA in Bellevue, WA. Pradeepan Jeeva and Amreitha Jeeva pastor the church.
Pastor Pradeepan was born to a Sri Lankan Hindu refugee family and he was led to place his faith in Jesus as a sophomore in high school. Before planting Kalos, Pastor Pradeepan led youth and young adult ministry for eight years and obtained a bachelor’s degree and a graduate degree from Oral Roberts University and
Pastor Amreitha grew up in Kansas after being adopted from India. She gave her life to Jesus as a young girl, and her love for the local church has continued to blossom over the years.
Watch this video to get a better snapshot of their heart for the LORD and for the church they’ve been called to plant in Seattle:
For Kalos Church to lay a solid financial foundation to help them fulfill God’s call upon their church, the leadership team initially focused on rallying recurring givers several months ahead of their public launch in September 2017.
Andrew had this to share, “We took the entire month of March (2017) to encourage people to sign up for recurring giving. By the end of March, we raised over $6,000 per month in automated donations.”
As a guide in their initial efforts, the leadership team clarified how much money they needed to raise, and then they broke that number down into monthly recurring donations. For example, if they chose to raise $120,000, they would have focused on leading 333 people to give $30 per month through recurring giving.
For Kalos, this initial effort has led their church to embrace automated giving which accounts for roughly half of their monthly donations today.
By the time Kalos opened their doors to the public, they were able to raise $150,000 and close to half of their financial support was made through online giving.
For Kalos, Tithe.ly is more than a tool they can use to raise financial support. It’s also a way they can keep track of the financial well-being of their church.
“One thing I appreciate is the online tools and dashboards to find trends. [Tithe.ly] makes it easy to track giving and know what’s coming in.”
The data Andrew can easily access enables him to keep track of the church’s giving trends and to better forecast for their future.
As Andrew and I spoke on the phone last week to the sounds of the bustling Bellevue community in the background, he told me that he spent several months researching different online giving and mobile giving solutions.
“Tithe.ly was specifically on our list because no money was coming out of our pockets to get your services.” Andrew shared how not paying for additional fees was a tremendous benefit for a church plant focusing on raising money for ministry.
Not only was Tithe.ly cost-effective, he also pointed out another essential point: “[Tithe.ly] looked user-friendly, which was a big deal for us. I had a feeling that if we went with Tithe.ly that anyone could easily support Kalos.”
Another feature Andrew appreciates is the ability for their congregation and financial supporters to be able to “Cover the Fees” when they make a donation. “The extra feature where you can cover the fees was huge. More often than note, people are covering those fees.”
When making an online donation, there is a small fee associated with the transaction. However, with Tithe.ly, people can choose to cover the fees, which means the church or ministry they’re supporting will receive additional funds. For Kalos, “[This] was another big win."
What is more, Andrew pointed out that “everything we needed to do was easy to implement immediately. I really appreciate how easy it is to use Tithe.ly.” Andrew added: “[Tithe.ly is the] best mix of low costs and user-friendliness. You don’t have to sacrifice on anything to get the best results for your online giving."
One key factor that led Andrew and Kalos Church to partner with Tithe.ly was a shared vision.
“I spoke with someone [from Tithe.ly] who knew why I wanted to raise money, and they wanted to help us raise money because we all have the same goal,” shared Andrew.
Whether you’re in the process of planting a church or leading an existing church, fundraising and giving is really about Kingdom partnerships—churches, people, and organizations who partner together for the cause of Christ. Providing the local church and ministries with the tools they need to increase giving and reach more people is the driving force behind Tithe.ly.
“Knowing [this] about Tithe.ly, I wouldn’t want to work with anyone else,” Andrew shared.
Click here to see why thousands of churches and ministries trust Tithe.ly with their online giving and mobile giving solutions.
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.