How is giving at your church? I ask that question of every church leader I talk to today. Frankly, the results are a mixed bag. A few churches have actually seen giving increase. Most churches however have seen some percentage of decline. I’m guessing since you are reading this that you are in that category. Here you are halfway through the year and keeping everything financially afloat continues to be a challenge. It is not simply that you are behind budget. You deep-sixed your budget months ago. You are simply trying to keep the lights on.
Is there a way out for you in terms of giving? Yes!
Here are my 10 Steps to take now to reverse a decline in giving:
- Don’t panic. Donors seldom ever respond well to panic. You have to find the balance between overreacting and not reacting at all.
- Do something and do it now! Hoping your giving increases is not a strategy for success. You need to act and act quickly to stem the tide. The longer you put off corrective actions the harder it will be to turn the ship around. Start sooner rather than later to work on your giving decline.
- Take ownership of the decline. By taking ownership I am not saying it is your fault. I am saying that one reason giving declines is that no one at the church owns stewardship.
- Get the facts. Too many churches simply don’t know the true status of their giving. You need to carefully analyze your giving asking the right kinds of questions of the data. For more on this read our past post, The Importance of Giving Analytics
- Face the facts. Numbers don’t lie. While it might be uncomfortable to realize that you are losing donors you need to find out why? What is the cause of your decline? Is due to COVID19 the economy or something else? You have to be willing sometimes to probe and find out why giving is declining. Only in finding out the reasons for the decline can you then take steps to correct the decline.
- Set a realistic target. I find that one of the biggest mistakes church leaders make is an unrealistic view of how much can be raised. Right now your donors are facing uncertainty which makes giving a challenge for them. I always start with the goal of raising an amount equal to your average weekly offering on a good Sunday.
- Build a plan of action. I am always amazed at how few churches have stewardship plans. If you are experiencing a decline in giving it demands your attention. Failing to act will mean that ministries will go unfunded. It could even mean you take a cut in pay! So, build a stewardship plan of action.
- Build your plan around a compelling vision. Big visions get big dollars! People give to that which matters. Many times the reason-giving is in decline is that members don’t see how their dollars make a difference. Good vision always trumps a bad economy! Show people the amazing things your church is doing and they will gladly give to support your cause.
- Work your plan. The best plan if not enacted is worthless. You have to work at increasing your giving. It must be something that is on your radar continually. So after crafting your plan work your plan.
- Say thank you. Churches seldom if ever thank their donors. Non-profit charities lavish praise and thanks upon their donors. We could learn a lesson from them. Never take your donors for granted. One way to see an increase in giving is to treat the gifts you have received with honor and gratitude.
While the times we live in are challenging it does not mean that ministry has to cease. We need to remember that in times past the church has weathered every economic downturn. Your church can and will weather this one as well. Taking these ten simple steps can start you on the road to seeing your giving increase.
Mark Brooks – The Stewardship Coach