If you have been following my blog for a while, you know that I am passionate about churches stewarding their people as well as they steward their money. The premise I have shared repeatedly is "if you care for your people well, money will follow as a natural result." That's not revolutionary thinking ... it's just good stewardship!
So, why is that first-time gifts are too often undervalued in churches? Time and time again I see that this activity isn't even tracked. Furthermore, many churches do absolutely nothing to follow up with first-time givers even if they track them.
Apparently these churches don't realize when someone gives to their church for the first time, there is a good chance he or she letting you know they are taking an important step of commitment in their faith and to your church. While it may be an unconscious thought, they want you to notice and respond. It’s the polite thing to do and it communicates care to that person.
Bottom line — givers want to be affirmed, and doing so is one of the first steps you can take in the ‘stewarding people’ journey.
It’s critical that you develop a systematic process for tracking first- (and second-) time givers in your church. Why? If it’s not systematic, and if a defined process doesn’t exist, it won’t happen. Period.
So where do you start? Here are seven steps to consider:
- Identify first-time givers as soon as possible. Don’t wait beyond Tuesday following the weekend in which the gift was made.
- Set up a process for responding to or connecting with those first-time givers. Depending on your church or the size of the gift, that may be a phone call, an in-person visit, or a personalized note or email.
- Thank every giver for their generosity. Affirm the giver by describing how their gift will make a difference. Be as specific and measurable in how you talk about ministry impact as possible.
- Establish a process and system which allows you to notice the second gift. First-time gifts can sometimes be made by random people who you won't see again. A second-time gift is a real milestone to pay attention to.
- Once you receive the second gift, be sure to acknowledge it and thank the donor for their sign of commitment to your ministry. Tell them about all the giving options you offer, especially the recurring ones.
- Be sure you are learning and recording what inspired the person to give. This will help you discover other ways to help them engage.
- If you don't have one already, find church management software that connects the dots and supports the process every step of the way.
What kind of process do you have in place to track first-time gifts and connect with those givers in a personal way?