A Good Steward Award 2013: Giving Solutions

Shore Fellowship (Egg Harbor Twp, NJ)

A “Good Steward” Award winner in the area of cost savings, the recognition is well-earned for Shore Fellowship. In the past five years, the church has been forced to close six times due to weather — potentially devastating, financially.

“We learned that the only way to develop consistent giving, and remain financially stable during snow- or storm-related closings, was to ask the church to embrace online giving,” explains Executive Administrator T.K. Dennis. After Hurricane Sandy struck, for example, the church raised $100,000 for community recovery efforts, mostly electronically.

In what practical ways has the church demonstrated “amazing aptitude for embracing 100% of the solution”?

Dennis: At the risk of tooting our own horn, this is a list of everything we do to get our congregation to embrace electronic giving, as well as giving in general.

  • We send out quarterly “celebratory reports” that offer the church  a specific look at what God is doing in the lives of his people. A  big part of this is always describing the ways people can give.
  • The option we push people towards most is giving online through Elexio Pulse.
  • Each weekend, one of our staff — often myself — caps off the end of the service with a brief teaching on the importance of  giving. At times, we even walk the church through our giving process from the stage.
  • We live, breathe and speak the vision of Shore Fellowship in everything we do — and that isn’t possible without a solid giving solution. Our staff has learned that a huge part of embracing the vision of the church is funding that vision. This would be much more difficult without an excellent online wgiving solution.
  • Every one of our staff members gives online, and about half our church gives online through Elexio Pulse.

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In what practical ways has the congregation demonstrated that it’s “quick to adopt” the solution — in particular, as it relates to online giving?

A Christmas worship service at Shore Fellowship
A Christmas worship service at Shore Fellowship

Dennis: In the past five years, we’ve needed to close the church during weekend services about six times. This is devastating to a church’s finances, especially in an often-transient area such as the Jersey Shore. We learned several years ago that the only way to develop consistent giving, and to remain financially stable during snow- or storm-related closings, was to ask the church to embrace online giving.

Hurricane Sandy turned our community upside down; but, even a storm just three months prior to that caused a state of emergency where people couldn’t leave their homes. During these times, when we’re unable to have worship services, our church can still participate in a hugely important part of worship: the offering. Our online givers are able to give even in the midst of a church cancellation — and they’re faithful in doing so because they know it’s a tool that helps us continue to do kingdom work even when they can’t make it.

After Hurricane Sandy struck, we knew the community needed leadership in organizing recovery efforts. I held a meeting after the storm hit. One of the first things I knew needed to happen was a means by which those around the world could give to the cause. We raised about $100,000 for our local community recovery efforts, mostly electronically. Our church also contributed to this, largely.

Yet again, during a time when physical giving was impossible, the church remained faithful and gave electronically. We even saw many people give online for the first time during this season, because there was just no other way to give.

We know our church loves to give online because, while I’m taking the offering, I always see a ton of faces planted in their smartphones. I know for a fact they’re not just avoiding the buckets; if they’re anything like me, they don’t carry any cash, anyway. So, without a credit card-based giving option, they’re not only unable to give, but they’re unable to participate in an important part of worship.

What benefits has the church enjoyed as a result?

Dennis: Our church enjoys a large base of givers that are very consistent in their giving. In today’s age, this only happens through an electronic giving solution. Online giving ensures there’s a fairly accurate projection of future giving trends from week to week, and ensures that trend is always headed up.

Online giving allows people to give, and to easily see their records. This makes their contributions very real to them over the course of several weeks or months, and allows them to see the impact they made. So, I see people looking at it like it’s a score they want to beat — almost like a game.

I personally make sure I beat my own “score” every year.

— Reporting by RaeAnn Slaybaugh

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