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7 best practices for reaching your church’s budget goals

By Derek Gillette

GENEROSITY ICONI’m an avid fan of stealing other people’s content and making it my own. This is how great artists make their living. Find something amazing, get inspired, and then repurpose the work and make it your own. To take a piece of Scripture slightly out of context: “There are no new ideas under the sun.” (Eccl. 1:9)

As I read the Puget Sound Business Journal a few months ago — in print, I might add — I stumbled across an article titled, “7 ways to make a real connection and realize a real return on that sponsorship.” The author, Adam Worchester, made seven points about how corporate non-profit sponsors can motivate their employees to form a deeper bond with the cause they’re supporting.

I found the advice to be spot-on, so I decided to “steal” Worchester’s seven points and rewrite them specifically for churches. What follows are the seven best practices for reaching your church’s budget goals.

#1: Invest more than money

We’ve found that giving often is the first act a person will take once he or she has decided they’re ready to be more involved in your church. How easy is it to use a mobile phone and give to your church for the first time? And then, how is your church making a dedicated effort to view this first gift as a raised hand?

Lay out the logical next step for a person to go deeper. Perhaps it’s a small group, volunteering opportunity, or just a shared meal / coffee with the pastor.

#2: Develop a vision

Non-profit groups implicitly understand the importance of casting a vision. Rather than relying on obedience, they paint a picture and tell a story.
In fact, keeping the impact front-and-center is now a best practice used by many companies — and churches can do the same. It involves recognizing a need in the world, understanding that money is required to meet the need, and finding a model to simultaneously create funding and address it.

#3: Stay in touch

I like to call this category, “the First 100 Days.” When someone gives for the first time, what do the next 100 days look like for that individual? What follow-up protocols are in place? Is there an automated email workflow? Does it trigger a phone call from a member of your leadership team?

According to fundraising experts Pursuant, first-time donors who get a personal thank-you within 48 hours are four times more likely to give a second gift.

#4: Review performance

We all know that one of the toughest things to create in church is consistent participation, especially for volunteer events. The same could be said for raising money to support special campaigns — a building fund, new ministry support, or a large mission’s fundraising night, for example.

Does your church have a mandatory review process after such events are completed? What worked and what didn’t? What did people get most excited about? What feedback was collected, and how do we incorporate that for next time? Church databases can help you track this information.

#5: Review priorities

Perhaps your church, for 20 years, has operated a Tuesday morning homeless ministry. But three years ago, the person who had the heart for the program left the church. Is this ministry still something your church is passionate about running?

Asking these honest and hard questions from time to time keeps your church on track and in-sync with the heart of your congregation. This also keeps your church innovating rather than falling stagnant.

We applied this principle to our own giving software, recently launching a feature called Fastpay, which cuts the giving time down from 10 seconds to five. To learn more, view this video.

#6: Analyze spending

Worchester queries in the original article: “Is your sponsorship money being used in the most efficient ways?” This is an important question; churches need to operate with the same introspection.

How much are we paying for donation-processing? How time-consuming is our weekly reconciliation? Is it eating up staff resources which could be spent in other ways? Also, how many contributions are we losing by not giving people an easy way to give from their mobile phones? (Seriously, you guys — this is a huge one.)

#7: Be creative

There are three values younger-generation donors look for: transparency, authenticity and social justice. What creative ways has your church tapped into those sentiments?

Has your pastor talked from the stage about the personal causes he or she supports?

Do you give updates on the impact of the money that’s been given to date?

Are you using technology — such as the eChurch app — to send push notifications about current needs?

Don’t be afraid to step outside the box and create an opportunity for conversation to happen.

Derek Gillette is the communications manager for Pushpay and eChurch, the 10-second mobile giving solution. Ninety-percent who download the app, give with it; 45 percent of gifts happen on days other than Sunday; and the average gift size is $176. Continue the conversation with Gillette on Twitter.


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