No one likes to talk about church giving, it’s like the first rule of Fight Club—you don’t talk about it. Even I tried to procrastinate writing this article. However, I think the reason we struggle to talk about giving is that we—if we’re being really honest—don’t frame giving appropriately. We never cast the proper vision needed to prompt people to want to give. Instead, we structure out loose theological frameworks in hopes that someone will agree with our hermeneutical understanding of Levitical law.
I would suggest, that if you really want to see giving increased in your church, you need to do a few things.
- Practice what you preach.
If we’re asking people to join and participate in giving to your organization or church, you need to make sure that you as an individual–and as an organization–are giving sacrificially. It’s impossible to articulate giving when you yourself don’t understand the spiritual significance of generosity. Pastors and leaders of organizations that depend on people’s sacrifice should be sacrificing themselves. I highly recommend finding some strategic partners within your community (NGOs, non-profits, shelters, social programs, schools, ministries) that you can donate a percentage of both your salary and what you have coming into the church. There is no better message about giving than giving yourself and sharing about the joys.
- Frame the “why” in giving
Framing the why can be a challenge. I think it’s easy for leaders to miss out on including our parishioners in what is actually being done with the money. I would suggest that you use your time of worship, particularly the offering, as an opportunity to share exactly how the money is being used. Show how your church or organization has its fingers stretched throughout your town, city, and the world. There is nothing more compelling than seeing your generosity be used in positive ways. People of my generation, I’m on the cusp between millennial and Generation X, will give– shocking I know–but you have to give us a compelling reason why. It has to hit our altruistic buttons. Having a few Bible verses and a small phrase that is regurgitated weekly isn’t enough. I went to a church the other day, and the pastor LITERALLY said that it pays their salary; that doesn’t compel me to give. We want to see our worship of giving be impactful and meaningful. Lastly, be enthusiastic and have energy. There is nothing worse than someone pitching an idea that they aren’t even excited about. I mean come on, we’re talking about transformation here–get fired up! Yes, people should just give to God because God has blessed them—but the reality is that there are lots of other ways to give to God that are not the church. So make sure that your church is giving people a reason to give.
- Make it easy to give.
I totally get that for some of the pastors out there, online giving is a theological hurdle. Some of you are leery giving away a percentage to a company that is 3rd party handler. I totally get it and this is a decision that you will have to navigate through prayer and guidance of those above you. But, I want to encourage you to be mindful of patterns that are being played out in culture. More and more people are using websites to conduct daily life needs. In fact, most people my age neglect to carry cash—much less use checks to make payments. Everything is being done online, through routing numbers.
For people, like me, who didn’t grow up using cash or checks, you want to eliminate as many barriers as possible for them to be able to give. There are two essential ways to remove barriers.
(a) Online Giving
There are lots of services that take a percentage for online giving. Again, I realize that this could be a theological challenge for some. However, I recommend finding one that fits your budget and needs. Be mindful that this is, in fact, God’s money being used for Kingdom Transformation. So you want to find a service that fits your needs. We will link to a few services at the end of the blog to make it easier for you. Here is why I think online giving is important. Online giving makes it easy for people to schedule regular giving to organizations. I find it helpful because I can set it up to automatically withdraw, and I don’t have to remember to bring a check to church (which I never carry). It also ensures that you’re receiving more regular donations because more people will be inclined to set up recurring gifts. Online giving seems like a natural pathway for me to give as part of my weekly worship and participation with God.
Chew on this quick stat,
“The Millennial Impact, a report that looks at the way the 18-to-32 age generation gives, found that nearly half of all millennials follow between one and five nonprofit organizations on social media. More than 65% of survey respondents receive emails from one to five different nonprofits. Most Millennials say they would give via mobile phone, and 8% have given via social media.”
(b) Less is more
Okay, once you’ve decided on online giving. Make sure it’s incredibly easy for me to find and give. Lots of services offer SMS (TEXT MESSAGE) giving or apps; you will want to have those. Also, make sure on your website that it’s only one click to give. There is nothing more discouraging than making multiple clicks in order to give. You want to have several links on your web page that instruct people on how to give and will also want to have multiple ways to give, (IE: online, recurring online, check, cash, stocks, bonds, ECT. ) The fewer obstacles you can create for people to give, the more likely they will give.
LINKS TO ONLINE GIVING RESOURCES:
ONLINE GIVING COMPANIES:
____________________________________ Warren Bird, “New Innovations in Online Giving,” July 14, 14, accessed October 5, 2015,http://leadnet.org/new-innovations-in-online-giving/.