In my over twenty plus years of working with churches to increase giving I have found that, if you want to improve giving you need to tell stories. Everyone loves a good story. This evening you will sit in front of your TV to do what? You will watch stories. When you go to bed before you go to sleep many people read a book. Books tell a story. Back in the day, we used to go each weekend to the theater to watch, stories!
What is true of our secular life is also true of our life of faith. As a former pastor, I quickly learned that what people remembered of my sermons were not my points but my illustrations. Illustrations are stories. What is Jesus most remembered for? His parables. Parables are earthly stories with a heavenly meaning. Stories bring concepts to life. Stories cement values into our minds. Stories touch our hearts moving us to action. Thus, if you want to improve giving you need to tell stories.
If you want a good illustration of how this works look at how non-profit charities raise funds. Take some time and go to your favorite charity’s website. You’ll find they tell a story. Charities use three major points to get their message and appeal across. While they may differ in style and approach there are basically three elements of their appeal.
- Crisis– They want people to know about a crisis. The Red Cross after a hurricane might share about the devastation of injured people.
- Need– Scores of people are homeless, injured, or without basic necessities. We can help by providing, food, medicine, or even blood.
- Ask– Your gift NOW will help us meet this need!
These three elements speak to the intellect. To raise funds you do have to connect the mind of the donor. Yet if you only touch the mind without touching the heart it is doubtful you will see an improvement in your giving. You must touch the heart of your donors. How do you do that? Stories. The more compelling the better. The picture below illustrates well how a story moves the heart of donors
Could you resist the appeal in this picture from The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals?® On the donation page, there is a three-sentence appeal that follows the three elements listed above.
- Crisis– “The ASPCA continues to assist homeless animals experiencing the impact of last week’s Category 4 hurricane.”
- Need– “Whether it’s a lifesaving transport across state lines, or setting up an emergency animal shelter to accommodate the overflow of displaced animals, the ASPCA’s critical emergency response is only made possible with your support.”
- Ask– “Please give today and help us continue to be there for the nation’s vulnerable animals.”
In three sentences plus multiple pictures, they make their case. The appeal is clear, concise, and most of all compelling. My guess is they have raised a lot of money through this appeal.
Stories help connect how a dollar given to your church impacts the world for eternity. Our story, the story of life change is the greatest story ever told. How do we get that story told?
Take two minutes or less before each offering to talk to your attendees about what the offering supports. Tell a story! I have found that the easiest way to increase giving is by setting up the offering with a powerful story of life change. A well-constructed offering talk helps you tell your story and it will improve giving.
Gyve clients receive every week a newsletter called, “The Generosity Journal.” The Journal contains tons of practical advice and help. It also contains a fresh weekly offering talk that helps you position your offering to be truly a worshipful moment. Morgan Mudge our Director of Operations recently wrote about “The Generosity Journal,” “we in the Gyve family are committed to your success. We are more than just a processing company! We exist to help you better minister the love of Christ to your community!” “The Generosity Journal,” is a tool that will help you tell your story and thus increase giving to your church.
By the way, does your online company provide you with free weekly help like offering talks? If not, it might be time to make a switch!
Mark Brooks – The Stewardship Coach