The A.B.C. of Year-End Giving


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If you’re a church leader (or non-profit leader), you know the importance of year-end giving.

The metrics prove the point:

  • Nearly one-third (31%) of annual giving occurs in December,
  • 12% of all giving happens in the last three days of the year, and
  • December 31 is the biggest giving day of the year.

Any way you look at it, December dollars matter.

There is a phrase in sales that we may should apply to year-end giving. Salespeople know that A.B.C. means “Always Be Closing.” A.B.C. is a motivational mantra that is used to remind those in sales that, in everything they do, a deal is the goal. Therefore, salespeople need to A.B.C — always be closing.

In our churches and non-profits, we tend to resist “closing.” Or, in our case, “asking.”

We feel that if we always ask, we’ll run people away. We have heard stories that substantiate our fears. To counter this worry, I consistently see leaders (especially pastors!) shy away from even asking, much less closing.

But we all know that “what we say” matters less than “how we say it.” Our marriage and other relationships have proven this true. Our approach means everything, and this is true when we work to close a sale. 

The church equivalent of “closing the sale” is making a clear and compelling engagement ask. Pastors love inspiration. Church leaders love vision. But too few pastors “close the sale” by asking people to take the final step. Too few pastors ask people to do something. 

Perhaps you sounded like this yesterday: 

“I love all that is happening in and through our church! We just gave $500 to our local school system. We sent 45 students to our fall retreat. And we got to celebrate baptism today. I love it. I bet you love it, too. As awesome as all that is, we still believe the best is yet to come. Let’s pray.”

What a WASTE!

Imagine if you added, 

“This is why I give to this church. And this is why I will always ask you to give to your church. When you give, you make things like this possible. If you want to give today, or if you want to set up recurring giving as a plan, just go to our website or app and click ‘give.’ Thank you in advance for everything God can and will do through your generosity.”

It takes 30 more seconds. When done constantly and approached carefully, it could mean a 30% increase in your operational budget.

Here are 4 ways your can A.B.C. your year-end giving:

1. Vision moments in your service.

As I mentioned above, every service provides an opportunity for celebration and inspiration. Use it, but engage participation by making a clear and compelling ask.

2. Emails to your congregation.

It’s only spamming if people don’t like it or want it. You can’t email your congregation five times a week, but you should connect through their inbox once or twice weekly. Every email must include an element of vision, story, and a clear CTA -Call To Action.

3. Personal conversations.

Every church leader should spend face-time with people in their congregation. I led a large church for over a decade. I couldn’t meet with everyone, but I could meet with some. I prioritized two groups: people far from God and our church leaders who were deeply involved.

With the involved, I always asked them to consider more significant year-end gifts. HINT: Make sure you have specific hopes and tangible needs for the following year to connect your ask to their offering. But ASK. And ask with boldness.

4. Small group and volunteer team ask.

If you have small groups, ask your group leaders to discuss year-end giving with their group AND provide them with the language to direct giving.

I assume you have volunteer teams who gather pre-service to meet and prepare for the morning. Join these meetings and use the time to thank them and make a year-end ask.

Think of it this way: If you ask, you invite people to engage. If you ask boldly, you give people an opportunity to participate boldly. But, if you don’t ask, you rob people of a chance to participate. This hurts your church, but more, it hurts your congregation’s discipleship growth.

If you believe in your church, ask as if your mission matters. Don’t lose the inspiration and celebration, but make sure you include a clear ask with a clear engagement path.

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