By Erik Reed
I know they exist. They’re like unicorns or the famed Yeti people claim to have seen.
What am I talking about? Churches that have plenty of money and don’t need to think about donor development.
Most churches have more dreams than money. Our ideas for new ministries and initiatives are usually more numerous than the dollars we have to achieve them. And that’s great!
We should dream big. It’s a good thing to have ambition inspired by the Great Commission.
But if we’re going to see those dreams become a reality, we need to increase the funds we have for achieving them.
As pastors, we’re our churches’ chief donor development strategists. We can’t abdicate our responsibility to cultivate generosity in our congregations.
One way to increase giving in the congregation is to retain new givers. We need first-time givers to become repeat givers.
I’ve found a simple and effective way to help improve giving retention and genuinely express our gratitude for someone’s gift:
Every Monday, I receive a list of names of first-time givers from our executive assistant. I write them a hand-written note on a thank you card that contains our church’s logo.
Here’s what I write:
I’m writing to thank you for your recent financial contribution to TJC. From a human perspective, we could never run after our mission of showing Jesus as incomparably glorious without folks like you who give.
We take the stewardship of every penny we receive very serious and seek to use it in a way that honors God and helps people.
So thank you, and may God bless you as we go forward together.
This note says three things to the recipient:
1. Your Gift is Appreciated
First, it lets them know their gift was recognized and appreciated. When someone gives to your church, they’re making a big decision. We shouldn’t take it lightly.
It’s a shame if someone gives for the first time but never hears anything back. It will feel to them as if it was unnoticed and unneeded.
2. Your Gift Helps Our Mission
Second, the note expresses how important their giving is to the church’s mission. I want the people who receive these notes to understand that apart from people like them who give, we couldn’t lead people to Christ and disciple them.
Our ministries are fueled by generous giving. I want givers to feel immediately connected to that work.
3. Your Gift is Used Wisely
Finally, I want to assure first-time givers we’re going to wisely steward the money they’ve given. Many people are hesitant to give to a church because they’re wondering if the money will be spent wisely.
My note helps to answer what they may be inherently wondering. We take stewardship seriously.
I have people approach me regularly to thank me for the hand-written note they received. It’s personal.
They didn’t receive a form letter from the church office. The pastor took time and wrote to them. That means something. It helps people see their contributions matter!
If you take the time to incorporate this simple method of follow-up to those who give for the first time, you’ll likely gain a very important thing: a second-time giver.