By Tobin Perry
Nothing prepared us for 2020. In December 2019, none of us had any idea a global pandemic would cause church buildings worldwide to shutter. (Let’s face it. All those churches who launched the year with a Vision 2020 sermon series are suddenly getting tested for bifocals.)
We don’t know what 2021 holds any better than we knew what to expect in 2020. But in the middle of what is sure to be unique economic times, there are a few best practices for year-end giving that will help us weather whatever comes our way.
1. Ask God for a faith-filled giving goal.
Never be afraid to set a giving goal that’s too big for your church to meet. You ask your congregation to give by faith. Your church collectively can demonstrate faith by setting a giving goal you can’t accomplish unless God bails you out. As your church trusts God to reach the goal, you’ll grow in faith. Ask him for the kind of giving goal that will stretch the faith of your church.
2. Review your church’s benevolence fund in light of current economic needs.
We don’t know where the economy will be next year, but all indications are that our communities will have more needs than in recent years. Make sure your budget is ready for these needs. Your church has needs as well, but you should be squeamish about asking your congregation to be generous if you’re not willing to be generous collectively.
3. Build stewardship into an overarching communications plan.
With fewer people these days growing up in churches, most people don’t automatically tie the work of the church with the funding of the church. You need to explicitly tie the two together as much as you can. When you report something your church is doing in the community or around the world, let people know that it couldn’t happen without the church’s generosity.
Make these reminders habitual by writing them into your communications plan for every medium at your disposal (social media, website, the pulpit, bulletin, etc.).
4. Create a budget tied to your church’s vision.
If you don’t tie your vision to your budget, you don’t have a vision. 2021 will be a great time for a reset on many church practices. Make this one of the practices you reset. As you kick the year off, take a fresh look at your budget, and make it clear what your church values by where you put your resources.
5. Make giving as easy as possible.
People have enough reasons not to give to your church. Don’t add to those reasons by making it more difficult to give to you than making other financial transactions. In 2021, that means you need a dynamic digital giving option. If people were not accustomed to digital giving before 2020, it’s likely they are now.
But it’s not enough to have digital giving options. Make sure they are easy to use. People should be able to give (and do so securely) in a couple of taps at the most. If not, it’s time to try a new giving provider.
6. Plan a sermon series dealing with stewardship.
In a culture steeped in materialism, you must teach generosity. One of the biggest reasons people don’t give is that they don’t understand what the Bible really says about it. Don’t be afraid to preach about stewardship from the pulpit and teach about it in Sunday School classes and small groups. Generosity is one of the most important ways we pattern our lives after Jesus. To not show people how to live generously is spiritual malpractice.
7. Prepare now for Giving Tuesday.
People think about giving during the holidays more than at any other time of the year. (According to nonprofitsource.com, 30 percent of charitable giving comes during December.) The first Tuesday after Thanksgiving is a great time to encourage your congregation to give to a specific cause. Start planning now what that cause (either internal or external) will be.
Even in the middle of global economic uncertainty, 2021 could be your church’s most generous year yet. And these year-end giving tips are a great place to start.
Tobin Perry is a content creator in Evansville, Indiana, with over 20 years of experience writing and editing for organizations that engage churches. He has previously served as a small church pastor and on the staff of Saddleback Church and the North American Mission Board. Find out more about Tobin at www.tobinperry.com.