Health and Growth

5 Ways Your Church Can Get Ready for This Summer with Recurring Giving

Don't let the summer slump take a chunk out of your church's monthly giving. Use these 5 tactics to keep financial momentum in the summer months.

5 Ways Your Church Can Get Ready for This Summer with Recurring Giving
by

Paul Maxwell

There’s no better season to have recurring giving than the summer.

Members are on vacation.

Students (who often don’t tithe) are back in town.

Parents (who often do tithe) are away.

Grandparents (who often tithe more) are visiting their kids for the summer.

God doesn’t call churches to advance his kingdom during the school year.

God calls churches to advance his kingdom “as long as it is called ‘today’” (Heb. 3:13).

Kingdom advancement takes resources.

Many churches struggle with a summer giving slump.

But you don’t have to struggle.

With the right technology and preparation, you can make the summer a unique season of long-distance pastoring of vacationing adults and short-term pastoring of visiting students.

With God’s call for summer kingdom-advancement in-hand, and his provision of powerful, simple technologies like Tithe.ly Giving on our phones, there’s no excuse for the notorious “summer dip” that churches face.

Want to know how you can avoid summer stagnation right now?

I’ll walk you through the whole 5-step process to creating a summer of ministry your church will never forget by taking the right preparatory steps right here.

Let’s get started.

1. Connect giving to a purpose

One of the reasons fall and winter can be such successful giving seasons is because there is a clear purpose for giving:

  • Kids are back in youth group activities, so parents want to give for their sake
  • Christmas moves people to give for charitable ends
  • Giving campaigns begin to ramp up for the following summer’s missions trips
  • Everyone is back from vacation, which means they can experience the value of tithing to a community
  • Children's ministry is front-and-center in the church
  • With attendance raised, giving campaigns have a higher yield.

People can sense purpose.

This compels giving.

People want to be part of something bigger than themselves.

Here’s the hard truth:

Summer can feel kind of meaningless.

When people don’t think the church is doing anything meaningful, they aren’t going to be compelled to give more.

Members aren’t going to give to the “just because” campaign.

So here’s what you need to do:

Figure out a meaningful giving campaign for the summer.

Some ideas are:

  • Job rehabilitation program for homeless in the area
  • A work project during the fall
  • A new harvest season ministry in the fall that will require summer preparation
  • A summer student ministry for troubled kids
  • An apologetics training camp for students home from college

Find something that is high purpose, but low cost that will propel giving momentum from after Easter, but won’t require you to sink into debt to accomplish.

Establish purpose first.

Then you can strategize how you will maintain your financial bottom line for the summer months.

2. Create goals for those reasons

Don’t let your goals stay in the abstract.

If you want to run a summer-specific giving campaign, make your metrics extremely specific and highly visible.

People don’t want to give to an ambiguously conceived cause.

Conceptual ambiguity is a financial black hole.

People want to know exactly where their dollars are going.

Calculate the exact budget for a campaign, and make your goal that exact budget.

Don’t make your goal “We want to raise $100,000!”

Why $100,000? What happens if we only raise $99,000?

Make your goal big and clear: “We need exactly $98,521.49 this summer. And we need you to partner with us to get there.”

3. Create timelines for those goals

Again, conceptual ambiguity is a financial black hole.

People aren’t inspired by ambiguity.

Specificity communicates urgency, and urgency communicates purpose.

People are hungry for purpose.

If your summer fundraising goal is $98,521.49, make it, “We need $98,521.49 by August 13th.”

Remind people often.

Make church announcements.

Send emails.

Share it on social media.

Even better: Remind people several times per week.

Don’t make your pitch, “We need your money!”

Word your pitch like this: “We are doing something amazing. Partner with us.”

4. Create campaigns for those timelines

If your pitch is that you want to run an apologetics class this summer for college students, make it clear how the money people donate will add value to the community and the students.

Create a “Mars Hill Academy,” after the Apostle Paul’s debate with the philosophers in Acts 17, and create a clear picture of the process students will go through:

  • Pre-reading in May, of these 3 books.
  • Tuesday night + Sunday morning classes in June - August training apologetics
  • Street evangelism Tuesday nights in August
  • Attend several local lectures by atheists
  • Fall followup — throughout the fall, the pastor answers weekly Q&A from students in class
  • Mentor program — students from last year invest in students this year

This is a real program to which people would give resources.

All it costs is time, and with enough money raised, that time becomes less of a burden.

The purpose is clear—the older generation, who often has more to give, will clearly be motivated to turn this program into a reality, as a common complaint among older Christians is that younger Christians are often leaving the faith in college.

The purpose, process, and need would be clearly outlined.

Then, you only need to name it: “The Mars Hill Academy Campaign.”

There you go.

You’re ready to process more donations this summer than any summer before.

And since the program continues year after year, the campaign is repeatable and the seasonal revenue becomes recurring year after year,

5. Get the right giving technology for those campaigns

Don’t rely on checks, cash, and bank account transfers to raise money in the summer.

Make giving easy and relevant for your entire church.

You need to implement a digital giving platform such as Tithe.ly Giving.

You need to know how to set up a recurring giving program in your church.

Tithe.ly Giving allows you to:

  • Give directly in a church app that Tithe.ly will build for you
  • Set donations to be recurring monthly donations from a debit or credit card
  • Implement text-to-give features that allow you to give a text-based, simple call to action mid-service
  • Send out push notifications (with the App) to remind people of the remaining need and the importance of raising funds

Some Practical tips your church can use to get recurring givers:

Theory is great, but tactics are better.

Especially when you need to grow revenue right now.

Here are a few practical steps you can take to grow recurring givers:

1. Ask non-Christians to give.

Pastors are often timid in asking visitors to give (“let this service be our gift to you”), but this neglects two realities:

  1. Non-Christians want to give to church (it makes them feel good).
  2. Giving invests non-Christians more in the church, not less.

Giving forges a bond between the giver and the recipient.

The Bible calls that bond “partnership” (koinonia; Phil. 1:3-5).

This partnership enables further opportunities to share the gospel with the giver.

The resources enable you to continue doing ministry with the church.

And the precedent of asking non-Christians to give increases overall cashflow by an exponential factor, which only enables you to do what you do even better.

2. Ask local businesses to give.

Businesses have a marketing budget.

Only failing businesses cut the marketing budget.

Thriving businesses advertise, promote, market, and get the word out.

During your next church event, instead of taking 100% of the cost out of the church budget, ask a business to sponsor it in exchange for an advertising presence.

Many franchise businesses set aside thousands of dollars for requests such as this.

Local businesses need to participate in church events like this because, for local businesses, reputation is everything.

Don’t be timid about asking a business to partner with you in order to subsidize event costs, which enables you to use that money elsewhere.

3. Ask wealthy members to give more just for the summer months.

This is a very specific asks that your serious, devoted, wealthy members will need to take seriously if they buy into the value of the church’s work.

Make plans for the summer.

Make such meaningful, important, kingdom-expanding plans that you can’t go through a summer slump.

This doesn’t mean you should make commitments you are financially unable to keep.

It means you don’t take your foot off the gas in fear of a summer slump.

You push on the gas, turn toward your wealthy donors, and say: “We need to jump this cliff until we land in the Fall, full financial speed ahead.”

If you can sell them on the mission, you can keep your financial momentum.

4. Teach a Sunday school class on Tithing during the Spring.

Tithing is not an optional component of discipleship.

Giving is not a skill that only some are called to.

Tithing is an integral part of discipleship.

Teach what the Bible says about Tithing as a part of your Spring Sunday school class, and you could even take it as an opportunity to launch Tithe.ly Giving in your church so that people can sign up for automatic recurring giving before they head to Palm Beach.

Over to you

This entire process may sound exhausting.

And it is.

Ministry can be exhausting.

But even more exhausting than fundraising is ministry under the duress of financial desperation.

Don’t put your church in that situation.

Your church members want to be part of a thriving church.

Your church members want to give to something meaningful, important, and new.

All you have to do is follow these five steps, and you will stay ahead of the summer slog that forces so many churches to start their growth from scratch every August.

Remember:

  • Create reasons for people to give
  • Create goals for those reasons
  • Create timelines for those goals
  • Create campaigns for those timelines

Get Tithe.ly Giving for those campaigns.

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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5 Ways Your Church Can Get Ready for This Summer with Recurring Giving