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October 19, 2020
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, churches (maybe yours?) have realized the importance of strategic fundraising initiatives in maintaining their solvency.
Those who have not remained agile have seen significant drops in giving and attendance.
During this season it has become mission critical for churches to understand the architecture of financial success in order to continue the work God would have them do for their members and for their communities.
Often, a church will make church budget cuts without considering the invisible costs, and end up downsizing Peter to keep paying Paul.
When a great church fundraising ideas are used along side a great church fundraising strategy using mobile + online giving and even church donation letters, these decisions aren’t forced upon the staff, and those complex decisions that require the calculation of unseen and non-monetary expenses such as time, attention, and energy are kept at bay.
Without further delay, here are the top seven benefits to adopting a sophisticated strategic fundraising plan to catalyze the solvency and security of your church, and grow your missional outreach as well.
When a church’s finances tighten, often the first thing to go is ancillary church staff.
Their perceived dispensability is taken as an optional line-item in the budget, and the positions are cut without sufficient consideration of the invisible cost of such modifications.
The primary consequence of this decision is that the core church staff and leadership are then tangled in the miscellanies of church business and their time put in a vice between critical leadership responsibilities and operational tasks.
When your church takes seriously the importance of strategic fundraising and development, you protect the time of your executive team central to achieving the core mission of your church.
When you have more money, your church leadership team is not forced to consider staff and organizational decisions whose complexity threatens the efficiency and productivity of the organization as a whole.
If your church isn’t actively working in the community, the community for the most part will forget you exist.
Most churches consider communal invisibility an undesirable status relative to God’s call for their church to serve the community in which it is embedded.
When church giving drops because fundraising efforts have been downsized, outreach ministry budgets are slashed for the sake of retaining consistently justifiable budgets for in-house ministries such as Sunday service event production, operational staffing, and other necessary miscellaneous costs.
Another common mistake churches are forced to make under financial duress is the overly critical analysis of successful ministries within their church that have large budgets.
When money is tight, it is tempting to misconceive a large budget as a “ballooned” budget, which can have two unintended consequences.
First, church leaders can easily make the mistake of feigning expertise in budgetary analysis so that core budgetary delegations are seen to be unnecessary and expensive indulgences. Guitar pedals are cut. Paid music staff are replaced with volunteers. The perceived benefit is a 10% drop in quality to the tune of reallocating 50% of the budget. The problem is that often there is a 50% drop in quality as well, negating the effectiveness of the rationale used to institute the cuts.
The second problem is decreased morale among ministry leaders.
If they feel that they now have to justify every purchase or budgetary line-item to church leaders that don’t understand the logistical and technical rationale for those purchases, then (1) they are required to spend more time explaining and less time optimizing the ministry, and (2) they are reluctant to make creative decisions to improve the quality of the ministry, resulting in a long-term drop in ministry quality that is difficult to recover.
When data-driven strategic fundraising plans are already in place, the kind of financial fluctuations that require these sorts of problematic decisions are mitigated, and internal ministries such as worship, child care, and diaconal ministries are protected in time and energy.
A church under financial duress is under pressure to think in terms of survival rather than revival.
It’s hard to think prospectively under the shadow of looming financial threat.
When sound giving and development relationships are in place, such as recurring giving, solid relationships with wealthy church donors, and a clear sense of how exactly donations are allocated per ministry, then the church has the bandwidth to be the organization that makes a legacy impact in the community when other churches are forced to allow their legacy mindsets to be cannibalized by their day-to-day survival instincts.
When you have already cultivated a culture of generosity in your church, your members will not be surprised when you ask them to give more during a time of financial duress.
However, if you begin fundraising during a time of deep need, members will feel that they are being asked to give to operational tasks, rather than effective ministries, decreasing the overall appeal of giving.
When people are in the habit of giving, ideally because they have a recurring gift automated through your church’s online giving software such as Tithe.ly Giving, then they will know the feeling of being blessed by giving.
This creates a self-perpetuating, “sticky” habit of generosity so that when you make a church offering, or send a church donation letter, the church members can draw on an existential experience of being blessed which, paired with the kind of buy-in that recurring giving naturally cultivates—highly increased the feasibility and dollar amount of each gift.
The more engaged your members are on your church app, the more embedded in and committed to your church they are, and the more likely they are to give.
When giving is perceived as a normal part of in-app engagement, there is a social expectation among peers to give.
This raises the tide of generosity in your church as your members are conditioned to tithe not only for their own sake, but for the sake of participating in a communal effort to participate and perpetuate God’s work in the world.
People give to vision.
Vision is told through individual stories.
When you continue to fundraise so that your church doesn’t have to accommodate regular and significant budget cuts, your church can continue to tell compelling stories of those who have benefitted from your church’s ministry.
These stories will continue to be valuable strategic fundraising assets as you share them with your community.
When you showcase the church’s work through individual stories and testimonies, people get the sense that the sacrifice of giving is more justifiable, because they are not merely giving money to pay unseen operational expenses, but are rather giving to relieve suffering in the world.
This will increase the overall effectiveness of your giving appeals, as opposed to the circumstance in which you have no stories to share because ministry budgets have been too deeply cut to share any new stories of what God is doing through your church in the world.
Implementing sound strategic fundraising plans in your church is about more than becoming a financially wealthy church—it’s about resourcing the kingdom inside and outside the walls of your church to bring Christ to the world.
While it can seem unappealing, uninteresting, or even greedy, recognize that God is trying to resource your ministry.
Fundraising is merely your cooperation in God getting resources through your church to the world in his name.
Take fundraising seriously so that your people can take the ministries of the church as seriously as God takes them.