Guest Post: Sanford Levings is the President of MinistryCFO, a company that manages the financial operations for churches throughout the country. Previous to MinistryCFO, Sanford was the Director of Business Practices for the strategic partner churches at North Point Ministries. I’ve asked him to share his ideas around year-end contribution statements.
While every church will send out a 2012 contribution statement, many are missing an opportunity to leverage the piece to increase giving in 2013. Before you mail a contribution statement to your givers, consider investing a few extra hours to make your letter more meaningful and effective.
Here are 8 easy ways to help you add more punch to your letter:
- Tell a story.
Very few people find financial numbers and reports intriguing. Rather, most people opening an envelope want to hear a story and are more likely to respond to that over statistics and data. This year, do more than just delivering a standard, record-based print out.
- Leverage the letter.
Use a cover letter as an opportunity for the pastor to retell the story of the church over the past year, highlighting measurable moments of ministry impact. Then, close the letter with your vision of what God is going to do over the next year. People like to hear, and be reminded of, the “big picture” ahead.
- Personalize the address.
People want to read something with their name on it. Make sure you personalize each and every address you send.
- Give me a reason to open the envelope.
This is something a lot of churches miss. Adding, “please verify our records are correct for tax purposes” is better than a plain outer envelope and is more likely to incite action.
- Design matters.
People open mail that looks intriguing, not boring. Make the design of your statements a priority this year.
- Send $0 balance giving statements.
More and more churches are doing this. By finding a way to delicately remind people of their contribution, you could encourage them to give in 2013.
- Include a comparison to previous year giving to date.
People like to keep score. Seeing one’s current year giving next to one’s previous year giving can serve as a timely reality check.
- Provide other options.
Take a moment to remind the giver that additional giving options, such as online giving, are available.
What else? What are other ways to make your contribution statements more attractive and meaningful?
Church Community Builder User Tip: We encourage every church partner to utilize digital contribution statements. It's really easy to do, gives members a reason to access and update their member profile, and will save the church money. We recommend sending an email that explains the member's giving profile can be reviewed online and downloaded for tax purposes along with a link for members to sign in and access their profile. Another option is to include a direct link to the financial section of the member's profile where they can print off their giving statement. We also encourage our church partners to promote digital contribution statements with stage announcements, videos, and having small group leaders remind members. Paper statement requests can be handled on a case-by-case basis.