Let’s be blunt. As a church leader, you know that financial support is essential for the ongoing ministry and operation of your church. Without proper funding, it can seem difficult or even impossible to meet the needs of your community and fulfill the Great Commission. That’s why it’s important to find ways to increase giving within your community. In this article, we’ll explore some of the best strategies for churches to increase general giving and become healthier, thriving ministries.
1- Communicate the vision and mission of the church clearly.
“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe.”
—Simon Sinek, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action
Leaders should ask this important question: “Even if a person is motivated to give, why should they give to this ministry?” If you don’t have a great answer, then you have a huge problem. It is essential to clearly communicate the vision and mission of your church to your congregants if you want them to be generous. When people understand the purpose and values of your church, they are more likely to support it financially.
One way to communicate your vision and mission is through weekly sermons, but there are other ways to do this as well. Consider creating a brochure or handout that explains your church’s vision and mission, and make it available to all members. You could also create a video that explains your church’s purpose and values to share on social media or your website.
Another way to communicate your vision and mission is through personal conversations with your congregants. Consider setting aside time to meet with people one-on-one or in small groups (focus groups) to talk about the vision and mission of your church. These personal conversations can be especially effective at increasing giving because they allow you to answer questions and address any concerns people may have about supporting your church financially.
2- Offer multiple giving options.
“Reducing friction means anticipating and removing any barriers that stand between the customer and the product or service experience.”
—Shep Hyken, The Convenience Revolution
In a post-pandemic world, offering people the opportunity to give online should be a no-brainer. However, leaders in the church need to think long and hard about the giving experience. How many hoops do I need to jump through in order to give? Are the methods of giving immediately obvious to guests and outsiders? Are the giving options familiar and comfortable for everyone?
Some people prefer to give online, while others prefer to give more traditionally—in person or by mail. By offering a variety of giving options, it becomes easier for people to support your church financially.
Some options for giving include:
Online giving: Many churches offer the option for people to give online through a
website or app. This can be especially convenient for people who don’t live near the church or who want to give on a regular basis. We are long-time fans of PushPay, but there are many great options out there.
Text-to-give: Some churches offer the option for people to give by texting a specific number. This is a quick and easy way for people to give, especially if they don't have cash or checks on hand. Oftentimes, these transactions can be processed by your online giving vendor.
Giving envelopes: Some churches provide envelopes that people use to give in person or by mail. This can be a good option for people who prefer to give in this way. If people want to give in person, make it easy. They should not have to ask someone how or where to do this.
3- Express Gratitude.
“Gratitude is a currency that we can mint for ourselves and spend without fear of bankruptcy.”
—Fred De Witt Van Amburgh
The definition of engagement means interaction in exchange for value. We may be tempted to think people should give just because it’s the right thing to do. The reality is people are much more likely to continue giving when they feel appreciated. That’s why it’s important to express gratitude to your congregants for their financial support.
There are many ways to show gratitude to your donors, such as:
Say “thank you” in person or in writing.
Send a thank-you note or card (we like to use personalized BombBomb videos by email).
Recognize donors in your weekly bulletin or newsletter.
Host a special event or luncheon to show appreciation.
Remember to be specific and sincere in your expressions of gratitude. A simple “thank you” goes a long way in making people feel appreciated and valued. By showing your appreciation, you can help to create a culture of generosity at your church and encourage people to continue supporting your ministry financially.
4- Provide financial education.
“We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.”
—Dave Ramsey, The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness
Another way to increase giving at your church is to provide financial education to your congregants. By teaching people about budgeting and good financial practices, you can help them to be better stewards of their resources. Oftentimes, people report wanting to be more generous, but they simply don’t know how. This strategy not only increases giving but also helps people live more financially secure lives overall.
There are many ways you can provide financial education at your church. You could offer classes or workshops on budgeting, saving for retirement or reducing debt. Invite financial experts to speak at your church, or provide resources such as books or online courses on financial management, like Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University program.
5- Create a culture of generosity.
The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.
—2 Corinthians 9:6-8 ESV
To develop a culture, leaders must embody and role model the very same attitudes and behaviors they desire for the organization. Leaders must consistently demonstrate generosity and encourage it in others in order to create a culture where giving is the norm at your church. This might include setting an example of generosity yourself or highlighting the generosity of other church members.
Celebrations also build culture. A culture of generosity should recognize and celebrate the
ways in which people give. This could include thanking people for their donations in a special way or sharing
stories of how their contributions have made a difference.
Another way to create a culture of generosity is to provide opportunities (easy on-ramps) for people to give in various ways. This might include offering service projects, special short-term giving opportunities, mission trips, or other ways for people to contribute their time and resources.
6- Encourage regular tithing.
Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
—Luke 21:1-4 ESV
Tithing, or giving a set percentage of one’s income to the church, is a biblical principle that can help increase giving. The concept of tithing can be traced back to the Old Testament, where it was seen as a way for people to give back to God and support the work of the church.
However, the practice of “first-fruit” giving is not just about giving back. When giving is both sacrificial and habitual, it becomes an intentional spiritual act of trusting God. It is “faith in action” and a vital way through which people learn to trust in God’s provision on a deeper level.
Encouraging regular tithing can be a powerful way to increase giving at your church. You might consider offering a class or workshop on tithing or devoting a sermon or two to the topic. You could also provide resources, such as a tithing calculator or a budgeting worksheet, to help people understand how to tithe.
7- Promote transparency.
“I think the currency of leadership is transparency. You’ve got to be truthful. I don’t think you should be vulnerable every day, but there are moments where you’ve got to share your soul and conscience with people and show them who you are, and not be afraid of it.”
—Howard Schultz, Starbucks CEO
So people might love the pastors, and they might love the values of the church. But do they believe that church leaders are acting responsibly with the money that’s given? In other words, would the CFOs and accountants in your congregation feel confident in how you handle things? When people feel confident that their donations are being managed wisely, they are more likely to give. That’s why it’s important to promote transparency at your church.
Effective financial management is essential for the ongoing success of any church. This requires solid internal controls. This might include establishing clear financial policies and procedures, training staff on financial management, and regularly reviewing financial reports. By ensuring that your church’s financial practices are sound, you will build trust and confidence among your congregants and encourage them to continue giving.
One way to do this is to provide regular updates on how donations are being used. This could include sharing financial reports, highlighting specific projects that have been funded by donations or relaying stories about how your church’s work is making a difference in the community.
Another way to promote transparency is to have honest and open communication with your congregants. Honestly answer questions about your church’s finances, and be open to suggestions or concerns.
8- Internal tracking and accountability.
“Nothing is more motivating than belonging to a team of people who know the goal and are determined to get there. . . . Acting on the lead measures is one of the little-known secrets of execution.”
—Chris McChesney, The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals
Are generosity and financial conditions an important and regular part of the church’s leadership meetings? There’s an old saying that rings true in this situation: You manage what you measure. It is important for your team to track your results and measure your progress. Consider setting specific financial goals and regularly reviewing your progress toward achieving them. By tracking your results and measuring your progress, you can identify areas where you are doing well and areas that need improvement.
Focusing on internal tracking and accountability demonstrates to your congregants that you are responsible stewards of their donations and that their contributions are making a real difference in your ministry. This builds trust and encourages people to continue supporting your church financially.
Increasing generosity at your church takes time and effort, but the payoff is worth it. We hope some of these strategies are useful for you. Through communication, encouragement, culture development, improved giving options, gratitude, education, transparency, and accountability, you can successfully improve giving at your church. Your church will grow and lean farther into its important missional work in the community.
At the ULC we encourage open lines of respectful communication that leads us to healthy Christ-centered discussions. Let’s start the discussion in the comments below!