Giving isn’t just an administrative or even a financial act – it’s a deeply pastoral and missional action. I'm firmly convinced that viewing donations and donors pastorally is a necessary part of church health. With this in mind, here's three ways churches can celebrate donors and the work being done through them.
1) Encourage your donors with personalized letters...
At my home office, I don't have a lot hanging on my walls. I have one old GivingFire flyer from a past conference, and I have printout of a email my pastor sent me about a year ago. He sent it on a random Wednesday afternoon, it's about a page long, and it's filled with pure encouragement. He lists out the ways he's been blessed by me, the ways he's seen me grow, and in general praises God for the ways he's seen the Gospel shape me.
In my entire life, I've received exactly one letter of encouragement like that. I keep it on my wall and look at it from time to time, and it reminds me that I am blessed both by the Gospel and the church I'm in.
People thirst for encouragement. There is an extreme drought in our culture. Now, I think pastors (and laypeople) should be an encouragement on all things whenever possible - but barring that, giving is a great place to start. It's a tangible expression of Jesus' generosity in people. GivingFire will send automated email thank you receipts, but that's not enough. Take time, write a thank you, and seek to encourage.
2) ...especially first time donors.
When a donor gives for the first time to your church, or moves from sporadic one-time gifts to consistent tithing, that’s a huge deal! That person is saying with their wallet “I see what this church is doing, and I want to be a part of the work Jesus is doing in and through the church.” For those of us who are used to monthly tithing, it’s easy to forget how much faith it takes to do this.
GivingFire's activity feed highlights first-time donors. What if a pastor used that to see when a new attendee gave for the first time? That pastor could then send out a personal email introducing himself, thank the donor for the gift and becoming part of the church, and cast a quick vision for continued community for the donor’s family. In so doing, giving ceases to be the “price of admission” for coming to weekly church events, and become a way donors feel like part of the church community and mission.
3) Show the results of giving - a lot.
Few people get excited about church budgets and giving - but stewarding that money well is one of the means by which the church blesses people. Show your congregation how their giving makes a difference - from the pulpit, in church letters and bulletins, or however you best communicate with your congregation. Often, we shy away from talking about money in church lest we seem too worldly or eager for gain. That is a concern - but it shouldn't rob people of the joy that giving brings. Talk about money not that the church would gain, but the givers.
That one church picnic that fed the neighborhood - the financial generosity of your congregation helped make that happen. Even if they couldn't make it to the picnic - they still were able to do the work of the church (spiritually) alongside the volunteers that were there. When your church helps pay for a new church plant, your givers are partnering with that church. Do they feel like partners, like co-laborers? Does the act of giving feel like being a part of the body that enables the feet to go out and the hands to work? If not - then it probably should.
Between my two theology degrees and years of working at a church, a giving company doesn't seem like the most intuitive place for me to work - but I'm not here on accident. I - and everyone else here at GivingFire - are here to work through giving with you, to really make it something that honors Jesus in your church and in your congregation, and give you the tools to enable that.
A lot of churches out there aren't doing well at this. Let's go out there and start making it better.