Your team might have 25 ideas for increasing annual giving from your congregation, but what about engaging your givers in a more personal way? Is that part of your plan? Andrew Olsen recently compiled a list of 13 ways to engage major donors. While he came at the conversation from a perspective that might not totally resonate with the local church, there were a few takeaways that made sense to me:
- Really get to know your givers.
Oftentimes, giving can seem impersonal. We drop a check in the offering plate or make an online donation without really knowing whether it makes a difference. People are more inspired to give after seeing their cause live, when they see how great the needs are and how much their involvement can help. Find creative ways to acknowledge and connect with them! Create an annual venue which allows you to spend time with your givers in ministry, in the field, in hands-on situations; get to know them by name. You may consider creating a minimum giving threshold for these activities to keep it manageable. That all depends on the number of givers you have.
- Keep them in the know.
Make your donors feel that they are in the “inner circle” so to speak. It inspires people to take more ownership and makes them feel valued. Maybe it is a private page on your website or within your church management system. Share regular stories about the impact your church is making or how the money they’re giving is changing their community and world.
- Don’t be afraid to ask.
We can be timid about asking people to give, especially in church. But sometimes, even regular givers need to be prompted. Believe me, if they give to other charitable organizations, those guys are asking on a regular basis! People who have given to your church before will give again and give more if they see the need. So ask! You might be surprised at the response when you simply engage people by inspiring and challenging them to respond to new and ongoing needs.
- Don't make it about you.
No matter how you execute these ideas, don't make it about you! People are inspired to give more to your church because of how you are impacting the lives of others. The days of inspiring people to give to new buildings, programs and staff are rapidly disappearing. People know those things are necessary but aren't motivated to give to them. So, talk about your vision to change more lives. Share evidence that you are doing this. People will respond by giving the money you need to make it happen.
These are just four ideas but I know they work ... I've seen it! Know that the worst thing you can do is to not engage your donors at all. Don’t get to know them. Don’t connect them with ministries that need help. Don’t thank them for their gifts. When a donation is nothing more than a transaction, you’ll miss out on a huge opportunity to create more margin for your church.
What are some other ways you have engaged your givers?