By Todd McMichen
Have you ever thought about what helps us live more generous lives?
I get asked a lot of questions regarding strategies to increase financial giving. Questions like, How do I increase first-time givers? or How do I increase digital givers? The end result tends to be the driving factor.
But what causes the result? Is it the same for every person? Is it the same for every season of the year?
Here are some important facts to help as we go on this discovery. The top trigger of a financially generous act toward a cause is engagement.
The more engaged a person is in living the vision of the organization, the larger and more frequent their gifts become.
In light of this principle, let’s evaluate a few common church fundraising strategies.
- How does the annual tithing message increase personal engagement in living the mission of the church?
- How does participating in a stewardship training class on personal budgeting increase personal engagement in living the mission of the local church?
- How does an appeal letter or special offering increase personal engagement in living the mission of the local church?
While each of these actions has value, they’re not primarily focused on increasing long-term engagement, but are rather geared toward short-term action.
Now, let’s shift our mind to how engagement affects giving. Here are a couple of quotes.
“It turns out that giving time and money go hand in hand. Those who give more money volunteer more often. And those who volunteer more often give more money.” -The Barna Group
“According to the survey, volunteers donated to charity at double the rate of non-volunteers.” —U.S. Census Bureau
It turns out an important trigger that increases engagement—one that leads to growing financial generosity—is volunteerism. Serving generously increases financial generosity.
While there are downstream activities we must have in place such as digital giving and quarterly giving statements, we should probably swim upstream to focus on increasing engagement in the vision.
Due to COVID-19, this has been quite a challenge. A lot of ministry energy has been expended to help people stay connected while scattering, then how to regather, then scatter again, etc.
I’ve heard a good bit of preaching on gaining personal peace and end-time prophecy, but there have been few sermons on the importance of tithing and in-person worship.
Now the long-term call that keeps engagement thriving (and grows giving) is turning to personal mission action.
So how can we increase meaningful engagement in the mission?
1. State church vision for the remaining of 2020 and 2021 with clarity and measurement.
The more clear the vision, the easier to engage. When a measurement is added it makes success easier to identify. When we win together it inspires us to continue on with the mission.
2. Create easy next steps to join a mission action team while joining the church.
Church membership shouldn’t be viewed as the end game, but the superhighway to join with others making a massive difference for the kingdom.
3. Consider the steps involved in moving from virtual worship attendance to in-person participation.
You may need to create opportunities to meet the pastor or even attend a next steps class online to help with the transition.
4. Share weekly offering talks regarding the difference both people and dollars are making in lives in your community and around the world.
Most people are completely unaware of how giving makes its way to life impact. Likewise, being virtual can make ministry success difficult to detect.
5. Establish practical mission action as a part of every ministry area and small group.
What occurs in a group or on church property is not the end result. However, what happens through our ministries is the ultimate goal.
The top generosity trigger has nothing to do with money, but everything to do with missional engagement. When you unleash time and talent generosity, you’ll also enjoy treasure generosity.
TODD MCMICHEN (@ToddMcMichen) is Director of Generosity & Digital Giving at LifeWay and author of Leading a Generous Church: Making Disciples without Chasing Money.
Have you ever taken the time to think about all that goes into a giving moment? There’s an undeniable decision making and spiritual growth process occurring in many micro-moments. Download our free ebook, Why We Give and Why It Matters.