Are you maximizing your fund-raising potential?
I know this doesn’t sound politically correct if you lead a church. I get it. We are much more concerned with making disciples than givers.
Yet generosity, or a lack thereof, is always more spiritual than financial.
Helping people along their generosity journey is integral to their discipleship growth. Therefore, we should consider new and better ideas to generate generosity.
The Church’s Giving Advantage
If you lead a church, I suspect you’ve never felt you had any advantage over other non-profit organizations that depend on donations. But hang around some of these other organizations for a while, and you’ll see their unique challenges.
I’ve never met a non-profit organization that wasn’t envious of the church’s fund-raising opportunities – two in particular:
- Many non-profit organizations are Christian-based and led, but none are the ecclesia Jesus described and the Disciples launched. The church is God’s plan “A,” and there is no plan “B.” These other organizations provide vital services to individuals and communities. Still, they are not the church and therefore don’t have our mission and vision to establish their fund-raising efforts.
- Most non-profits interact with their care recipients daily or weekly but struggle to regularly engage with their donor base. On the other hand, churches host weekly gatherings with donors and potential donors. Think about this advantage! Churches aren’t required to host 5k’s, golf tournaments, or galas to raise funds. Every single week, church leaders stand in front of givers and potential givers in prime positions to inspire funding.
Yet, with these advantages, churches are perpetually underfunded. And the majority of church attendees do not give to their local church.
In my experiences leading churches and consulting with hundreds of others, most churches rarely see more than 30 – 40% of their congregation become financially engaged.
We need to fix this lack of financial engagement. And we can.
Learning From Our Fellow Non-Profits
Non-profit organizations work hard for funding. They have to. They don’t possess any of the church’s advantages.
This is pure speculation, but I wonder if church leaders take these advantages for granted. Worse, I wonder if too many church leaders expect generosity rather than work to inspire generosity.
With this in mind, churches have much to learn from our non-profit peers on the fund-raising front. Great non-profits understand the necessity and power of donor nurturing. They don’t take generosity for granted. They don’t expect it, either. The opposite, in fact. These organizations understand the importance of fostering relationships with their donor base to maintain and grow engagement.
How To Nurture Donors In Your Church
Nurturing donors is essential to fund-raising for any non-profit organization, including churches. Donors who feel seen and appreciated are likelier to continue giving over the long term.
Below are 7 best practices for non-profit donor engagement. After the list, I’d love to suggest a simple solution to help you incorporate these practices into your church generosity system.
1. Acknowledge gifts promptly: It’s crucial to acknowledge contributions as soon as possible, ideally within 24-48 hours of receiving the donation. A prompt thank-you message or note can help donors feel appreciated and valued.
Depending on the size of your church, this suggestion may feel daunting, but it’s worth it to figure out. One solution may be a simple email nurture sequence triggered by each donation. Here’s one content suggestion: Don’t only celebrate what their generosity helped create already. Point to things coming in the next month or two to inspire future generosity.
2. Personalize communication: Donors appreciate personal attention and recognition. Use personalized communication such as thank-you notes, phone calls, and emails to show donors that their gifts are important and that they are valued community members.
In your church, this is especially important for first-time givers or donors hitting habit milestones like a second, third, or fourth-time give.
3. Keep donors informed: Regular communication with donors can help to keep them engaged and informed about the impact of their giving. Share updates on the programs, services, and events to help donors feel connected to the community.
Segmentation can always better target our communication. This is especially true when we work to keep our donors informed. Send families of young children stories of life change from your kid ministries. Send empty nesters stories from adult groups. Or, if you have a story of life change too good to be missed, segment how you share the story and what action items you attached to the email by segmenting your donor database.
4. Provide opportunities for involvement: Inviting donors to participate in activities, such as volunteering or serving on committees, can help them feel more connected to the community and invested in the mission.
You can easily invite people on “backstage tours” to see ministry in action at your church. If you have a student retreat, take donors on a field trip to experience the event in person. Few things move donors more than seeing their generosity in action.
5. Tailor stewardship efforts to individual donors: Different donors may have different interests, motivations, and giving patterns. Tailoring stewardship efforts to individual donors can help to build stronger relationships and foster greater giving.
Again, this is a segmentation conversation. There are five types of givers in your church. When you can identify them, you can learn why people exist in each category and, more importantly, how to inspire them to their best next step.
6. Demonstrate impact: Donors want to know that their gifts are making a difference. Share stories, testimonials, and data that demonstrate the effects of the programs and services.
This is a perfect example of why non-profit organizations would kill for a weekly gathering of donors and potential donors. Every Sunday churches can, and should, make space for sharing stories that inspire action, like generosity.
7. Express gratitude: Regularly expressing gratitude and appreciation to donors is essential for nurturing long-term relationships. Be sincere, authentic, and specific in your gratitude. Let donors know how much their support means to the organization and community.
This may be what churches do the most. We often thank people for giving. But do you have a systematic approach to ensure regular gratitude is extended? Systems make life more simple and more predictable.
By implementing these best practices, churches can nurture their donors and build stronger relationships that can lead to greater support over time.
Best Practices for Implementation
I realize you are busy. Perhaps too busy to dissect and implement a generosity system.
I’d love to help.
I created The Funding Funnel that Funds Your Church Masterclass Experience to help leaders like you understand the five categories of givers in your church and design a systematic approach to inspire people along a generosity journey. We’ll address each of the above best practices and more. And you get tons of FREE RESOURCES.
Check it out here. Space is LIMITED, so we can have a more personal experience together.
NEXT SESSION DATES: 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. EST on May 4, May 11, May 18, June 15, & June 22.
Cost: $599 per church for 6 sessions, all the content, and all the free resources.
You can get more details HERE.
I hope you’ll be able to join me,
NEW CHURCH FUNDING MASTERCLASSES BEGINS MAY 4!
In this masterclass, we will focus on the categories of givers that currently exist in your church and how to best systematically inspire them forward in their generosity journey.
- PLUS One Individual Session.
- That’s 6 HOURS of time we’ll spend together!
- Groups limited to 10 churches to increase the personalization.
- Don’t worry if you miss a session! Recorded replays are available to all participants.
- Plus, FREE RESOURCES, including The Funding Funnel Planning 12-Month Template, Category Boundary Descriptions, Vision Scripts and Content Creation Templates, Thank You Systems and Ideas, Email Templates and Samples, and Segmentation Ideas to target your communications.