Health and Growth

Recurring Giving: The Key to Creating Automatic Monthly Donations

Stone age tithing methods might be costing you 50% of your potential monthly donations. Find out how to change that.

Recurring Giving: The Key to Creating Automatic Monthly Donations
by

Paul Maxwell

Church leaders, here’s a quick quiz to determine if your church should automate its monthly donations:

  • Would you use a VHS/TV combo at your next Youth Group activity?
  • Would you use morse code as your primary communications technology for church announcements?
  • Would you launch your capital campaign by sending carrier pigeons to the houses of all your richest members?
  • Would you build a moat around your church building and call it a “church security” safeguard?
  • Bonus Question: Would you use pate-passing and bank transfers as the primary means of collecting tithes and offerings?

Why do you think every church has ditched VHS, morse code, pigeons, and moats?

Because something else was invented and now it works WAY better.

When it comes to tithing, automated recurring giving software is the 5K 80” flat screen of tithing.

In many cases, it doubles tithing within the year.

There’s nothing wrong with passing a plate. This is still one of the ways many churches collect monthly donations.

But if your church is relying on these methods as the primary means of collecting tithes, you are leaving money for the Kingdom on the table that your members want to give.

Your church should use a recurring giving model of tithing.

Most of your church members give every monthly anyways.

Why not help them to make it automatic?

It’s that simple.

Here’s the deal:

The longer you delay in implementing a recurring giving platform at your church to automate monthly donations, the more money you’re losing, and the longer it will take to catch up when you finally do switch to a software ( eventually, every church will).

Buckle up!

Because in this article, I’m going to walk you through the seven steps to take you from 0mph to 100mph recurring giving model in your church so that you can automate monthly donations at your church and process every single dollar your members want to give.

More Resources = More Ministry

With more resources, you can do more kingdom building.

More discipleship.

More mercy ministry.

More community service.

More diaconal ministry.

Better childcare.

More money doesn’t automatically make you a better church.

But more tithing means more participating in God’s kingdom as the body of Christ in this age.

So get on board, and let’s get those monthly donations automated ASAP with these 7 steps.

1. Begin by selling it to your church leadership

Don’t launch a church giving platform with divided leadership.

As Abraham Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

Don’t implement a technology with your church—especially a technology so closely related to money—if there is any conflict.

Spend the time to get everybody on the same page about digital giving.

Once everyone in church leadership is on the same page, you can start writing a launch plan to communicate to members why implementing a recurring giving software to automate monthly donations will help the church.

One common obstacle that church leadership faces from other leaders in the church is the cost of recurring giving software.

They don’t like the idea of spending money on software that regulates giving, because they believe it compromises the integrity of the giving process.

But nothing could be further from the truth.

You could make the same argument about spending money on “giving envelopes” for plate passing.But giving envelopes don’t have the potential to double your giving, and tithing software does.

Implementing recurring giving software in your church doesn’t cost you money any more than a restaurant paying for a credit card machine costs them money.

It does the opposite.

When you increase recurring giving, tt increases cash flow, and therefore increases the opportunity and potential of the church.

2. Bargain with reluctant adopters

Some in the church may be reluctant to adopt technology because they are skeptical about technology to begin with.

This isn’t a problem.

All you have to do is give reluctant adopters an incentive to use your digital giving software instead of using cash.

For example, if you get the Tithe.ly Church App, a custom, branded app for your church, then giving is a free feature of that app.

If you put features such as sermon notes, prayer requests, and the church calendar on the app, then you get people used to using your church app for church-related items on their calendar.

Tithing becomes an organic part of that use.

3. Boost lifetime value, not immediate gain

Think about it.

What if Netflix was a cash only business.

How many people would forget to pay each month and eventually stop paying?

How much would customers be worth each year, compared to their automated model?

The answer is: If Netflix was a cash-only business, it wouldn’t exist anymore.

I know what you’re thinking:

But Tithing isn’t a product—people are commanded to tithe in the Bible.

Fair enough.

But if you’re a pastor, you know that that’s not enough to prompt regular giving.

People forget.

People go on vacation.

People get tight on money.

There are many reasons why people may not tithe month-to-month and therefore their lifetime value as a giver could be cut in half as easily as Thanos snaps his fingers.z

But with an automated monthly donation model with a recurring giving software, you guard against that.

People begin looking at tithing with the ease of a Netflix donation.

Then, you as a church can stop thinking about tithing as an answer to the question: “How can we survive month to month?”

And you can start thinking of tithing as an answer to the question: “How can we gather more resources for the kingdom year over year?”

Tithe.ly Giving enables your church to stop thinking about month-to-month survival, and start thinking about year-over-year growth.

Stop just surviving, and start thriving by looking at members as lifelong partners, not one-time givers.

4. Build a partnership, not patronage

Monthly giving programs like Tithe.ly Giving enables you to completely change your relationship with your members from patrons who give you pity money and partners who are proud to participate in God’s work in your church through monthly donations.

If you have to ask people over and over again, it gets tiresome.

Eventually, if you have to ask for basic tithes too often, people wonder if their tithes are really doing anything—and they may even give less.

When you implement recurring giving software, people assume that their tithes are needed, funding the work of God’s church, and meeting needs in the community, instead of barely keeping the lights on.

5. Bring all payment methods into one place

By implementing a recurring giving software, you are able to simplify your monthly cash flow.

Instead of tracking four bank accounts, eight funds, 12 causes, and a partridge in a pear tree (does that guy still need a donation receipt?), Tithe.ly Giving enables you to streamline every fund, special cause, general giving, and in-serve text-to-give through the same backend software.

You can manage each donor, see how much they gave last month, and better pastor your members.

Remember—tithing is a facet of discipleship.

Would you leave other aspects of your pastoral ministry to inefficient and ineffective systems?

Of course not.

So why would you allow your tithing system look more like a street entertainer than a successful business?

Use the excellent tools the marketplace affords you to make your members’ giving to God’s kingdom as simple and easy as possible.

By consolidating giving into one place, you make the task of discipleship easier for your members (isn’t it hard enough already?) and you make the task of pastoring much more simple and time-saving for yourself (so you have time for more important work).

6. Bolster your relationship with givers

Digital giving solidifies your relationship with donors.

When you have to “collect” every Sunday, you build a “debt collector” relationship with your members.

That’s not good for church morale, and it’s certainly not good for giving.

When you automate monthly donations, members see those monthly withdrawals as something they are happy to do for God’s kingdom—mostly because you don’t have to ask them every Sunday.

It just happens.

And they can manage their cards, bank accounts, and giving methods within the Tithe.ly Giving app.

Recurring giving software makes relationships between members and donors better, not worse—and an added benefit: they end up giving more money.

7. Benefit from the best tool

We’ve mentioned it a few times here, but far and away, the best monthly donation tool for churches is Tithe.ly Giving.

You’re free to do research and see that Tithe.ly Giving is far and away the highest rated church giving app in the marketplace (see Capterra and SoftwareAdvice).

Tithe.ly Giving has no sign-up fee.

No contract.

No obligation.

Free migration from other digital giving platforms.

Free training to launch digital giving in your church.

Tithe.ly was built by pastors for pastors.

Tithe.ly Giving is easily the best choice for church leaders to disciple their members in the act of tithing.

Sign up today.

Over to you

Don’t be overwhelmed by all the online marketing you see about digital giving software.

God placed you in your church for a reason.

If you are prayerful and discerning, you will make the right choice.

But it’s clear that the right choice is to begin using some recurring giving software.

The future is now, and payment processing is transitioning entirely to digital.

Your tithing method should reflect that.

Again—not just so that you can be “high tech,” but because you didn’t build a moat around your church to keep it safe.

Don’t build a moat to safeguard your church’s financial security.

Get Tithe.ly Giving.

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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Recurring Giving: The Key to Creating Automatic Monthly Donations