December is always crazy for churches. Christmas is one of the busiest times of year and many churches rely on year-end giving to fulfill their budgets and achieve big goals. But when things start returning to normal and the new year begins, that doesn’t mean it’s time to rest on your laurels.
The new year is a time when your congregation is thinking about what they want their lives to look like in the months to come. It’s often the time when they’re most motivated to start healthy new habits—physically and spiritually.
And that’s why it’s also the perfect time for your church to brainstorm ways you can increase giving. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Reconnect with people who stopped giving
Last year, some church members who were once faithful givers suddenly stopped. They might’ve been giving for months or even years.
There could be any number of reasons why someone stopped giving. Perhaps they had a financial crisis this year, like a medical emergency. Or maybe they made a major purchase like a new home or vehicle. Maybe they had a crisis of faith, and no longer believe in your mission. It’s also possible that they set a temporary giving plan, and it simply expired.
Whatever their reasons, the decision to stop giving may very well be tied to a lack of connection with your church, or a change in spiritual health. Something happened this year, and this is an opportunity to remind people that you care about their wellbeing.
From a giving perspective, it’s also a lot easier to convince someone who used to give to start giving again than it is to convince someone to give for the first time. They already know how to do it and why it matters. They may just need to be reminded that this is a community worth investing in.
Highlight last year’s big wins
The start of the year is the perfect time to talk about last year. Over the course of a year, what did you accomplish? What milestones did you reach as a church? What did you do with the resources that were entrusted to you last year?
If you want more people to give toward your mission (or for current givers to give more), show them how faithful you’ve been with what you already have, and remind them what God has already done through the generosity of your community.
Set church-wide giving goals
When people don’t know what you need or what you’re working towards, it can be harder to take the leap and give. They may assume everything is already covered, so their generosity would be better used elsewhere. Church-wide giving goals help each giver feel more like they’re helping you make progress toward a specific need. Your church-wide giving goals could even be connected to dedicated funds for ministries or projects.
The truth is that people tend to rise to a challenge. Setting goals gives everyone a target to strive for and the added motivation to hit the objective.
Encourage people to make pledges
Everyone has a different amount they’re comfortable (and able) to give. Pledges allow your church members to set goals on a personal level. By encouraging people to set them at the beginning of the year, a pledge functions like a New Year’s resolution. They can decide where they’d like to be by the end of the year, and they can track their progress throughout.
Pledges are great because they aren’t binding in any way. Your members aren’t forced to give the amount they pledge but they can monitor their progress toward their goal on their account. Giving statements can also easily be used to remind people of their giving to date and encourage even more generosity.
Reintroduce giving options (and focus on recurring giving)
Church leaders are often (rightfully) wary of talking about giving too often. But still, they pass the offering plate every week. Unless you talk about other ways to give, your weekly routine may be reinforcing that this is the only way (or the best way) to financially partner with your church. But that’s far from the case.
It’s harder to give in person. People have to remember to bring cash or checks to church even though they don’t carry them normally. And it can turn every week into a battle to give. Online giving is faster and more convenient. And with recurring giving, your church members can give the same way they make other important regular transactions: automatically. This is the ideal giving option for your members and for you—because it makes giving more consistent throughout the year.
Plan a series on generosity
Giving to the church isn’t something Christians do out of obligation or duty. It’s a spiritual practice that comes from recognizing who our resources really belong to and what God wants us to accomplish with them. It’s a step of faith, trusting that God will use what we give him through the people he’s placed in leadership over us.
Launching a sermon series on generosity provides a great opportunity to lay the spiritual foundation for giving. Even if you don’t explicitly focus on giving to your church, increased giving may come as a byproduct of emphasizing the biblical importance of generosity and helping your congregation grow spiritually in this area.
Make this New Year your best one yet
As this year comes to a close, it’s time to begin thinking about how you’re going to keep growing next year. Start your year off right by taking these steps to increase giving now—and maybe the year-end push will be a little less stressful next year.