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.
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
Practical tips your church can use to increase 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:
- Non-Christians want to give to church (it makes them feel good).
- 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.
- 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.
More resources and tips about online giving for churches: