It’s summer. Families are traveling, attendance is sparse, but your budget hasn’t changed.
How can you ward off the summer giving slump and encourage your congregation to give cheerfully so that you stay on track with your church budget?
1. Show the numbers
Help people see the issue you see. If giving is behind budget, calmly let your congregation know and ask them to give.
It helps if you can point to a past year when giving was on track with the budget. “This week last summer, we were at 60% of our budget. This summer, we’re at 45%. We trust God to provide for our church, but it helps us plan for fall ministries if we know we’re on track financially.”
It’s a pretty simple message, but what’s the best way to get it out? I suggest multiple avenues:
- Mention it during your worship services several weeks in a row. That way most of your regular attenders hear the announcement at least once. Plus, repetition is important for helping people take action.
- Host a quick member’s meeting after a service, and announce the meeting repeatedly several weeks in advance. The mere act of gathering as members reinforces the commitment everyone made to support the church and stirs a sense of shared ownership. You can use the opportunity to explain how your church is adapting to your budget challenges—such as cutting luxury items or even delaying a new hire—or point out specific ministries that could struggle without financial support. An open conversation like this helps the reality of finances hit home.
- Send several emails. Over the course of a month, send 2–3 newsletters covering the gist of the issue, and provide a financial graph if you have one.
- Publish your church budget on the website. You don’t have to get into all the details, but when you show a high-level view of how your church stewards resources, your members see how their gifts fund the church’s mission.
Tip: Use your church management software‘s built-in communication tools to make the announcement. You can create simple graphs of your giving trends, then distribute them using your church’s digital newsletter or digital bulletin. You can also send the graphs to your church presentation in Proclaim.
2. Encourage recurring gifts
Summer is a textbook example of one of the main benefits of recurring gifts: they aren’t at the mercy of our schedules.
If we rely on memory or being physically present in church to give, it’s likely we’ll occasionally forget—especially in the summer.
But if we set it and forget it with recurring monthly gifts, we make it a habit automatically.
It’s also more convenient. It takes longer to write and address a check than it does to set up recurring giving, which you only have to do once.
Use the summer giving slump to reiterate why recurring online gifts are so helpful. They not only help churches plan better, but they help givers save time and be more consistent in their donations.
Tip: Anyone can make a first-time gift through Faithlife Giving—included with Servant Keeper church management software from Faithlife—in under 30 seconds. They can then create a free Faithlife account to set up recurring gifts. All their information is securely stored for fast, convenient giving anytime.
3. Send giving receipts
This is a simple one: confirm when gifts are received. Getting a confirmation email or letter is one more touchpoint that keeps your church’s mission on peoples’ minds.
Ideally, your giving receipts are generated automatically anytime a gift processes.
Use that as an opportunity to reinforce your mission. Rather than simply saying, “Gift of X amount was received,” give a sentence or two addressing what the funds ultimately support: making disciples in your community and around the world.
You could even alter your giving receipt quarterly to highlight some events and ministries in your church that are made possible by donations—such as a local ministry to the homeless or an update from a missionary your church supports.
An extra step that goes a long way is mailing a personal thank-you note to everyone who gives to your church for the first time. When you send a handwritten note to a new giver, you demonstrate how your church cares about them and is thankful for each gift.
4. Send regular giving reports
This is more of a long-game play, but if you’re in the midst of a summer slump, there’s no better time to start.
Publish a newsletter—and make an announcement or presentation in church—about recent movement toward your church’s mission. Is a missionary overseas seeing progress? Is a local ministry blessing those in need? Did the kids just have an awesome week at summer camp?
Let your church know!
There are two reasons this is important.
One, As leaders, it’s easy to forget that for all the movement and progress you see, the average member in your church sees only a sliver of it. They’ll never know about it unless they’re told.
Two, sometimes people lose track of what they’re giving, especially when they use recurring giving. Regular reports help people remember their gifts make a difference. It might also stir them to increase their giving (or remember that they haven’t adjusted their giving to account for a recent raise).
Share the good news. Use it as an opportunity to remind people that God uses your church’s shared resources to accomplish these works, then encourage them to give.
5. Teach about biblical giving
If you’re a church leader or already consider giving a non-negotiable, you may take for granted its biblical precedent.
But many church-goers don’t hold a commitment to giving financially. In fact, statistics show that only 10–25% percent of Christians in America give.
That means well over 3/4 of your church may not be giving.
If that’s the case, it may be time for a sermon or series on giving—not a guilt-inducing one, of course, but one that grounds financial generosity in God’s goodness and generosity, as Scripture itself does.
Here are some passages you could teach or preach from:
- Genesis 4:17–20
- Genesis 28:22
- Deuteronomy 12
- Deuteronomy 14
- Deuteronomy 26
- Malachi 3:8
- Matthew 6:1–4
- Matthew 23:23
- Mark 12:41–44
- 2 Corinthians 9:6–10
Whichever of these five ways to ward off the summer giving slump you choose to pursue—and I recommend all five—don’t be hesitant to ask your congregation to give.
With a strong biblical foundation laid about the importance of giving, you can appeal to God’s generosity and the mission he has given to the church to encourage your members to give financially.