If your income projections are in the red going into the winter months, you are not alone. Remember, this is not new. There is a usual dip in giving over the summer months that bring hard financial updates right when you’re planning next year’s budget. It’s an annual exercise in faith and obedience. Here are 7 Do’s and 3 Don’ts when it comes to talking about end-of-year giving…
Do’s and Don’ts of End-of-Year Giving
End-of-Year Giving is a big deal in almost every ministry. In many cases, it’s a make-or-break time for the future work to be done going forward. So be sure to talk about it openly with your congregation during this season and be sure the way you are talking about it is strategic.
The Do’s of End-of-Year Giving
1. Talk about what you’ve accomplished
Tell the stories of changed lives. In what ways is the world different because your ministry exists? How is the neighborhood different? How are the people different? Draw a straight line from your mission to your results over the last year, demonstrating specific ways you’ve helped move that mission forward. Even though your numbers and stories aren’t final yet, send out a communication reviewing what you’ve accomplished year-to-date so far, including the financial picture.
2. Celebrate and thank people
This ministry has only been accomplished because of their faithful giving so far. As you do a year in review, celebrate the progress and the wins. Even be sure to celebrate things like the ways you’ve overcome obstacles or how you’ve trimmed expenses this past year to keep the cash flow healthy. After the celebration, cast the vision: here’s where we’re wanting to go.
3. Share your needs
People need reasons to give, and they want those reasons to be clear and specific. Let your congregation in on the need and how much it will cost to get it done. This is a great time to connect finances to needs. What tangible projects are still on your to-do list from the beginning of the year? Need new chairs? The children’s wing painted? To hire support staff?
4. Be transparent
There is no substitute for presenting your books and budget honestly. Yet instead of breaking the budget down according to building expenses, staff time, etc., why not reallocate your budget according to investment in the values or the areas of ministry? We spend X% on worship, Y% on weekend ministry, Z% on outreach. Staff time and building expenses, if used well, are direct contributors to specific ministry outcomes. Here is a simplified example:
5. Highlight giving outside the church
God’s work is so much bigger than you. Encourage and demonstrate generosity by partnering with your congregation to commit funds and tangibles to a favorite local charity or missionary. People want to know that they are making a difference in their community and beyond. Local shelters, food banks, Christmas gifts for fostering or low income families are all great ways to encourage generosity. Don’t forget your missionaries—ask how you can partner with them to bring hope in the communities where they minister. It may even look like creating parallel initiatives locally and globally.
6. Know who you’re talking to
Some are regular givers, some are sacrificial givers, some are irregular givers, and they likely all need a different emphasis in their communications. If possible, sort your list and target your written messaging accordingly. Likewise, don’t shy away from mentioning giving at the Christmas Eve service. Yes, plenty of people are from out of town, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be invited to give. Plenty of grandparents may be coming into town and you can communicate to them that if they have people here (their children or grandchildren), this is a good strategic investment in them and your ministry is making good use of what is given.
7. Make it easy to give
Few people carry cash or write checks anymore. Make End-of-Year giving easy and accessible. Put a QR code in the bulletin and on the screen before and after service. Consider having a text-to-pay service. Always incorporate a clickable link for giving into your e-newsletters.
The Don’ts of End-of-Year Giving
1. Don’t sound desperate
God will do what God will do, and this is not about you or your success. All you can do is be faithful to what God would have you communicate to the people. If you are stewarding the giving well, you have every reason to be able to speak with confidence.
2. Don’t guilt people
Although we do need to talk about giving, we don’t need to guilt people. Present it as an opportunity, not a chore. When people give, it benefits them spiritually. You don’t need to convince anyone or twist any arms.
3. Don’t drown them with detail
Being transparent does not mean sending out all of your spreadsheets and balance sheets. Most people will have no idea how to read them anyway. Instead, make it assessable. Use pie charts or bar graphs for visual clarity, and focus on hitting the highlights.
All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along. Galatians 2:10
Resources for More Effective Communication
Understanding principles of effective communication and then learning to apply them flexibly according to each situation will help you raise the effectiveness of your sermons and everyday interactions. Learn your communication strengths and areas for development with the Communication Effectiveness Profile then work on targeted areas using the Effective Communication Coaching Guide with Storyboard.
Assertiveness can be defined as getting what you want from others without infringing upon the rights of others. In other words, gaining buy-in. Enter 2023 with solid skills in assertiveness that will help you accomplish your goals. Try the Assertiveness Skills Builder or work with a Coach (or coach others) using the Assertiveness Coaching Guide with Storyboard.