End of year giving is critical to any non-profit and the church is no different. Non-profits completely understand the value of their end of year gifts and make very intentional efforts to communicate with their donors and encourage them to make a pledge current or give beyond their yearly pledge or make a one time donation to a certain cause that has a pressing financial need going into the next year.
I would encourage the church to do the same thing. This past Sunday in my home church our finance chair stood in front of the congregation in worship and gave a general financial update; thanked the congregation for the first ten months of giving and encouraged us to bring our pledges current. He also reminded everyone that we are receiving commitments for the 2011 budget campaign and encouraged us to turn in our cards. He reminded everyone that the cards make it much easier for the finance team to plan and be better stewards with the dollars they are entrusted with.
I applaud my church for this effort. There is much more to be done as we enter into the final weeks of the year and this is a good starting place for any church. Here are some suggestions as to how to get the end of the year giving message to your people:
1. Send a letter to the church. Here is a sample. I would encourage you to send this out ASAP; definitely before Thanksgiving.
2. Make an announcement in worship this weekend to thank your people for their generosity thus far in 2010, to give any pertinent updates connecting financial generosity and the church, and to encourage them to make their commitment current (budget and capital commitments). I would also encourage you to capture this announcement on video and publish it to the website and then send an email with a link to the video on the website. This will cover those who could not attend worship to hear the announcement in person.
3. Consider a special end of year offering or a Christmas offering to help fund a ministry within the church or outside the church. This Special Giving Opportunity (SGO) could be the giving on ramp for someone in your church who has never given before. This could be the beginning of a generous lifestyle for them.
4. Have the senior pastor do a video announcement or video blog encouraging the people of the church to end the year strongly in giving. This does not have to be a high end production; in fact the more organic it looks the more effective. Publish this video electronically through email, website and social media.
5. Have at least one personal giving testimony from a lay person in your church. This testimony can be live or on DVD. Regardless of the format, have the person or couple share their hearts as it pertains to giving, why they give, and why they choose to give back to God through your particular church. Many in the congregation think that only the “really religious” or “church leaders” are the ones who actually give money to the church. We need to connect the dots for people that God wants ALL of us to give back to Him.
I would encourage you to do all of the above suggestions, but I recognize that may not happen. Please pick ONE and do it and do it before Thanksgiving. Be intentional about encouraging your people to be generous with the finances God has given them! You may not be able to do all of the things mentioned surrounding end of the year giving, but do something! It will reap rewards for the church, but more importantly for the individual.