The bible tells us to tithe ten percent of our income. When we give an offering, it should be given on top of that ten percent. In the past, tithing was law in many communities. The older generations still keep up with this tradition, but the offering plate has suffered since most younger people do not have cash on hand.
Churches can take steps to encourage giving in their congregation and make it easier.
The following tips help churches increase offering by creating a culture of giving, introducing online donations, and encouraging more participation.
Young children used to get excited, rummaging through mom’s purse to find the money for the collection plate. The offering was just a part of Sunday service that most people didn’t question. After stories of televangelists stealing money from their congregations, Christians have become skeptical that their church really needs the money. This skepticism has led to less generosity towards the church. Also, pastors may sometimes feel like too much of their sermon involves asking for money.
Churches can create a culture of giving without continuously asking for cash. Pastors can share scripture and stories from the bible about our responsibilities to tithe, but without a culture of giving in the church, these messages get lost. We must put Christ at the center of our church. Remind parishioners of the gifts we have been given and why God has blessed us over others. If God remains the focus of the church, money will become less of a distraction, and people will give because they are called.
Christian stewardship is our responsibility to use God’s gifts wisely. The book of Matthew tells the Parable of the Talents to explain Jesus’s feelings on the subject. In this story, a master leaves on a long trip and gives three servants talents to do with as they choose. The first servant was given five, the second two, and the last received one. The servants who received more talents, traded and earned twice the amount for their master. The servant who was given one talent feared his master, so he dug a hole and hid it. When the master returned, he was pleased with the first two servants who doubled their wealth. He honored them with more goods and honor in his home. When he heard what the third servant did with his talent, he was angry and cast him out.
We have all been given gifts and must use them to spread God’s word and care for those in need. This lesson is true for the money and skills God has given us. We must take these lessons to heart and share our gifts whenever possible to honor him.
Churches may tell congregations their offering helps the church fulfill its mission. The details are not often discussed in depth since the request is made during Sunday service.
But people have trouble giving when they don’t understand where their money goes or how it helps. Churches who are open and honest with their parishioners about how their gifts are spent will see a significant difference in how their parishioners give. There will be more excitement and interest in the results of their gifts. Some will give more, and some more often.
Churches who share details on how much it costs to keep a church running help members and volunteers get involved. Your website should include a budget so members can learn more about your needs and give to the areas that most interest them. Adding a budget to your donate page gives members specific amounts you need and subtly encourages people to act on your behalf without having to ask them for another offering.
Pro tip: Add a goal thermometer to your donation page on the church website. That way, every time people visit to make a donation, they will see the meter moving toward the goal. This not only gives them a sense of transparency but also encourages them to give more than they otherwise would. But remember to provide ample details about why you’ve set that goal. Check the example below –
In addition to general expenses, churches may have projects, mission trips, or families that need support. The best way to get your congregation excited is by sharing these projects on your website and asking for help spreading the word and raising funds.
Crowdfunding campaigns have been successful for many nonprofits and can raise larger amounts for churches. This fundraising campaign is very affordable. Using the power of social media, churches and their congregations can share tales of success with their friends and family online.
The average donation amount to a crowdfunding campaign is $99, and a majority of donors have never given to a crowdfunding campaign before. The delight in trying something new and being part of a campaign encourages donors to share their excitement.
Pro tip: Crowdfunding campaigns are successful, only when you keep updating your donors (also, your potential donors) with the progress you make on the campaign. You have to find ways to keep the supporters excited with stories from your mission trip or any building project you’re working on. That way, they’d come back to donate more and also share the campaign with their network.
Churches can encourage offerings with stories from those who need help or success stories from those who have benefitted from your church’s support. People are drawn to real stories and people over vague requests.
For-profit companies use this idea all the time with testimonials on their websites. Hearing directly from people how a product has helped them is better than any costly marketing campaign. Nonprofits encourage donations by sharing success stories of people who have benefited from their programs.
You can do the same with stories about families and individuals whose lives have been changed thanks to God’s work through your church. Videos and letters can be added throughout your website or on a separate page to entice members to give.
Abide Ministries strives to strengthen and improve the lives of people through the love of Christ. Their campaign “Mentor Mission” tells the story of their mission, the story behind why their founders began this initiative, and how it is going, eventually, why they need donations for better impact.
This can be a perfect example of storytelling for your next church campaign. It should never be just about asking for donations or the impact you’re about to create but also about why people should give to you.
As we have already mentioned, fewer people carry cash. Even cheques have lost their popularity. Passing the offering plate around on Sunday morning does not bring in the same amount of money it did in the past.
63% of donors in the United States and Canada would rather give online. Churches that do not collect offerings online are losing money. You should be encouraging your congregation to give online with credit or debit cards. You can also promote text-to-give campaigns during your services and on your website to raise more funds.
With text-to-give, your church creates a campaign, and church attendees are given a text that includes a Campaign ID and number to text. When people text the number, they receive a text message that includes a link to your mobile-friendly campaign. Church members click on the link and are directed towards your website’s offering form. It is easy to set up, and church members will appreciate the simplicity of giving with their smartphones.
Here’s how the process looks like on Donorbox. With our quick donate feature, you can even ask your congregation to repeat the same donation the next time they want to give. It’s easier – no filling out forms or inputting details required!
Some people in your church may not feel comfortable with online giving. Churches with an older congregation may want to survey their members to see what they think about donating online or by text. Before you give up online giving, learn what concerns they have and how you can help alleviate them.
Some of your parishioners may not realize that giving online is safer than using cash or check. Online donation processors include fraud protection and do not store any of your members’ card information. Sharing this information on your website may lessen their fears.
Other church members may be afraid to donate online because they have never done it before. The best way to handle this problem is to let them know how to give online. Walk them through the process with step-by-step directions or explanation audio or videos. Your congregation will appreciate your consideration that online giving is still new to many of them.
Church Deacons hold the offering plate during Sunday services. Smaller churches will sometimes let children pass the plate on Sunday evenings. Whoever does it holds their head high because they are an essential part of the church’s collection. Online fundraising campaigns can give individuals in your church the same feeling.
Churches and individuals that start crowdfunding and peer-to-peer campaigns have found a lot of success. Parishioners have the chance to participate in the vital practice of raising funds for their church and are excited to share their church’s good deeds with their family and friends. Individuals can share their campaign’s success every time they receive a donation or reach their fundraising goal. They can tell their own story about what church means to them and why they love God.
These fundraisers can raise funds and promote the church with new audiences. They do this without churches needing to spend extra money advertising. With a simple donation page like the one below, your supporters can help you reach their network and get some extra funds. A little story or description won’t hurt but their friends and family trust them, so it should as well be okay!
Everyone wants to be thanked. The IRS requires 501c3 churches to send acknowledgments to donors who give a certain amount. Though not all donors need an acknowledgment for their taxes, they still appreciate a thank you. Sending personalized cards or letters is a way to connect to donors and encourages them to give again. Acknowledging offerings costs little to no extra money and takes only a few minutes, but it can make a huge difference in how people feel about your church.
Sunday service is not the best time to request an offering anymore. People have less cash and are tired of hearing the same request over and over again. Pastors would rather spend sermons sharing God’s message than beg for money.
One way to request offerings from church members is with fundraising letters. Handwritten or signed notes from your pastor may entice parishioners to give who have been with the church while. These letters cannot be sent often, but they are a nice touch.
Your church can also hold fundraising events or online campaigns that will attract funds from your church members and the public. These events can take as little or much effort and money as you are willing to spend.
Their success depends on your knowledge of your audience. Will you have more luck with a gala dinner or a fun family picnic? Whichever you choose, fundraising events will help raise needed money for your church and provide your congregation with more opportunities to connect with fellow Christians.
For example, on Giving Tuesday, Spirit of Joy Church wanted to raise some funds for their ministries to help the needy communities around. They did that with an online campaign making the most of the noble occasion and also, uploaded a thank you video to appreciate their donors later on.
If your church is having trouble making ends meet, now may be the time to seriously look at your church’s culture of giving and add a few new fundraising techniques to your repertoire. Fundraising may feel unnatural, but the reality is your church needs offerings to survive. Your church services are not bringing in the amounts they have in the past, so encouraging online donations or adding a few new events may be just the ticket.
Donorbox has affordable options for churches of all sizes. Learn more tips about online fundraising, event management, and new ways to reach a larger audience. For more information about our online donation processor and donor database, visit our website.