Giving is one of the most important disciplines in the life of the local church. It is important for discipleship because it increases an individual’s faith and usefulness. Generosity is important for families because kids raised in generous homes are more likely to live generously as adults. Finally, giving is critical to carry on the mission of the church.
For the last 40 years, charitable giving across the United States has been stuck at about 2 percent of personal income. Giving growth has simply been flat. However, in recent years the total dollar amount given to charitable causes has been setting record after record in growth. This is great news, but the local church is not experiencing this newfound spirit of generosity. While other sectors of charitable giving are on the rise, the church has been on a steady decline for the past four decades.
Financial Factors to Consider
There are a few important factors you should consider:
1. Money is not the issue. People are donating their resources in record numbers.
2. Willingness is not the issue. People are volunteering their resources in record numbers.
3. Opportunity is not the issue. People are discovering both where to give and the way to give in record numbers.
So the driving question is, how can the church get in the game and experience the same generosity flow that other nonprofits are enjoying? There was a day, when I was much younger, that my church mailed me giving envelopes. I would put them on my dresser right by my Bible. During the week, I would write my tithe check, put it in the offering envelope my church provided, and pack it away in my Bible for the offering time on Sunday. Sadly, this day of disciplined, pre-planned giving is diminishing. Odd as it may sound, the offering time has actually become a surprise to many people.
Tips to Create a Surge of Generosity in Your Church
How can your church be the exception to the trend and begin to turn the tide toward giving more generously? Here are some helpful tips to create a surge of generosity in your church:
1. Become giver-focused. When the church is in need, lacking confidence on what to say about money, or silent altogether, it can find itself speaking in church-centric terms, like only addressing money as it relates to a budget or building need. The message becomes about what the church needs for its benefit, instead of what God has in store for the giver. Giving is actually good for the giver. God’s word says so. One example is Proverbs 11:24-26: “One person gives freely, yet gains more; another withholds what is right, only to become poor. A generous person will be enriched, and the one who gives a drink of water will receive water. People will curse anyone who hoards grain, but a blessing will come to the one who sells it.” Additionally, study after study has proven many healthy benefits to living generously. For instance, “The Paradox of Generosity” revealed that the more generous Americans are the more fulfillment, happiness, and personal growth they experienced.
2. Make giving easy for the giver. Consider providing a simple reminder, such as sending giving envelopes to church members’ homes. This creates a great opportunity to train children as well as allowing God to speak to the individual prior to Sunday. Also, people are growing more and more confident in using their digital devices to transact commerce. Most young adults bank via app and text. They are actually sharing money among friends via apps. Embrace the goodness of technology and unleash giving via smartphones.
3. Share the story. Avoid communicating that giving is simply a transaction. Instead, help people understand the transformation that can happen when they give to their church. An envelope service provides the opportunity to create custom messages delivered to your church members. These messages can be as simple as a custom giving envelope dedicated to a special fund at your church. Giving statements can also be included with words of appreciation and the impact a gift is making. Finally, a generosity focused newsletter can be included. Make sure your giving envelopes are accompanied by stories about giving, generosity, and discipleship opportunities. Check out our easy-to-use envelope service and its many options.
4. Make giving fun. While people need to grow in disciplined, pre-planned giving, they also need to become spontaneous givers. Do not fight against our technology-dependent culture; redeem it. Enable your people to give in a moment’s notice on their phone. Generosity by Lifeway turns smartphones into offering plates and storage units into giving opportunities. How? You can give money or valuable items you no longer have a use for. Check out all the options available.
To inspire a giving spirit in your church, you must be intentional. Default giving is not occurring as it has in past generations. Nonprofits are outpacing the church because they tell their story from the perspective of the giver. And they do not limit a giver’s options. They consistently communicate vision and impact, while providing both digital and non-digital ways to give. It is not an all or nothing message. Churches need to provide many ways to give so all givers have the best chance for full engagement and they need to lead with the transformational impact that occurs when we give. If the church stays silent or “need focused”, we are not helping givers, and the mission of the church will be underfunded.
Be encouraged. People actually want to give. They are voluntarily investing their resources in record numbers. Get in the game with them. Most would much rather give to an organization they trust and have a great passion for such as their local church.