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by Brian Howard, an Executive Coach and Church Health and Multiplication Consultant.
Charitable giving is alive and well in America.
2013 giving statistics have yet to be announced, but in 2012, American individuals, corporations, and foundations donated 316 billion dollars to charities. In 2012, Charitable giving was up for the third year in a row. 72% percent of this giving came from individual contributors.
Religious giving, however has been steadily decreasing since 2004. Many churches have experienced this decline. What can you do to increase giving in your church? Here are 6 strategies for increasing financial giving in your church.
1. The Biblical Piece
If you are looking to see financial giving increase in your church, you must teach your people what the Bible says about money, possessions, and stewardship. Don’t manipulate it or teach things that aren’t in the text. The Bible is full of clear teaching on this topic. Make sure you yourself have a clear understanding of the theology of money and possessions and then teach it. This is especially important in churches that are experiencing conversion growth. New Christians often don’t have any idea what it means to give and need to be taught how to organize their lives around biblical principles of money and stewardship.
2. The Practical Piece
You might be surprised at how many younger churchgoers have no idea what it costs to run a church or even where the money goes. Modern givers aren’t likely to offer blind trust with their giving. Rather than being defensive toward curious churchgoers, look for ways to educate your people concerning how resources are allocated. You don’t have to be rigorously specific, but at the end of the day, people in local churches often are interested in at least general information concerning the family budget. This piece does vary depending on church size and size culture. The larger the church, the less detail needs to be communicated.
3. The Reminder Piece
Churches often make the mistake of failing to keep giving in front of people. This is problematic because many of us are forgetful or lazy regarding giving. A person who doesn’t give for four months will not usually make all of that missed giving up when they realize that they have forgotten or been lazy. And no one carries a checkbook to church so passing the plate cannot be the only reminder. Continuously keep giving in front of people by doing the following things:
- Send regular giving statements. (A minimum of quarterly)
- Mention giving weekly whether or not you pass an offering plate.
- Make giving easy by encouraging people to set up online giving profiles. There may be no better giving strategy than encouraging people to automate their giving. This eliminates forgetfulness and laziness.
4. The Membership Piece
In your church membership process, consider laying a foundation for financial giving by:
- Adding giving to the commitment that a church member makes when he/she joins the church
- In your membership interview discuss and explain giving for a church member
By communicating giving clearly on the front end of membership, you will likely have a more financially committed membership
5. The Commitment Piece
Many churches have moved toward asking congregants to make an annual giving commitment. It looks like this:
- Set your annual budget in the fall planning on growth for next year
- Communicate the annual budget to your congregation – Novemberish (the big picture anyways)
- Ask people to look at what they are able to give next year and write down a monthly commitment
Keep in mind that making an advance decision concerning what you will give is a biblical principle (2 Corinthians 9:7).
6. The Leadership Piece
How can we ask people to give if leaders don’t first model giving? Healthy giving churches have leaders who are committed to the mission of the church and are willing to give to support it. What this looks like depends on your context, but I would not put a person in a high leadership position (i.e. elder) without first ensuring that the person is faithfully giving.
Brian will be leading sessions at the upcoming Acts 29 Conference | North America on developing financial responsibility, as well as a session entitled "Why Every Pastor Should be an Entrepreneur”.
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