As Summer turns to Fall, kids return to school, and football once again takes over my TV, I know it’s time to dust off one of my favorite catch phrases, “December giving starts in September.”
That line will no doubt work its way into hundreds of my emails and calls to Mogiv’s “partner pastors” this month. And now it has worked its way into an article headline as well! Tweets and Facebook posts are sure to follow. #SeptemberIsTheNewDecember
In case the message of my catchphrase isn’t already apparent, here’s what I mean: if your church waits until December to start thinking about year-end giving, you’ve waited too long. And why exactly should you care about year-end giving? Quite a few reasons, actually.
- You should care because 29% of all charitable giving occurs in December.
- You should care because 11% of annual giving occurs in the last three days of the year alone!
- You should care because the average gift given in December is more than double the amount of the average gift during the other 11 months. (Source: Network For Good)
Long story short: December giving is a big deal. BUT…those numbers above don’t just happen on their own. Yes, our friends over at the IRS have provided some strong incentives for your members to get their gifts in before New Years Day, but that doesn’t mean dollars are going to start raining from the heavens just because we’ve all taken the Advent Calendars out of storage.
Your church’s leadership team plays an important role in paving the way for year-end giving. Here are three things that deserve some time and attention this month. Or at least before Columbus Day!
1. Audit Your Church’s Giving Channels
December is no time to be rolling out new giving tools or introducing new administrative processes. Those things take time and persistent communication. If changes are needed here, they’re needed now! Quick. Right now. (You’re already online, right?) Go to your church’s website. Is there a fast and easy giving option that does NOT require me to create an account first? (Think of your visitors!) What about a mobile option that allows me to participate during the offering even if I forgot my checkbook? Can I designate my online and mobile gifts toward a special Advent Fund or Christmas offering? If the answer to any of these is, “no”, now is the time to fix them. (Also…here’s a great place to start!)
2. Prayerfully Consider Some Outreach Opportunities
While yes, many church teams approach December desperate to just cover their budget for the year, the Holiday Season is also one of the best times to focus on the needs outside of your church. Whether it’s a Thanksgiving Turkey Drive, a Christmas Basket for a needy family, Operation Christmas Child, or a host of other December campaigns, each of these represents an opportunity to get more of your members engaged in generosity. We talk all month long about “The Season Of Giving,” and there are few examples more powerful than when a church steps out in faith and generosity, even before their annual budget has been met. Find ways for your church to model sacrificial giving this Christmas, and watch how your congregation follows!
3. Think About When, Where, and How You’ll be Communicating About Giving
Yes. Actually think about it. I can’t tell you how many churches I’ve worked with who left this piece of the puzzle up to “feel” or “as the Spirit leads.” Prayer and seeking guidance from The Holy Spirit should absolutely be part of your process, but the result should be a handful of tangible, actionable steps that will be taken. Remember, people can’t (and won’t) act unless they are asked. A few ideas:
- Have an elder give a year-end budget update, calling out areas of particular need.
- Spotlight any available outreach opportunities or holiday-specific needs in your community. (See Item #2 above.)
- Include a line in the bulletin or a slide during the offering that mentions the various channels available for giving. This is especially helpful for new members or sporadic attendees.
- An emailed year-end financial statement with a link to your online giving page for any “last minute” gifts.
Spend some time with each of these things this month and you’ll be in great shape come January!
[ Sponsored by Mogiv ]