Congregations who contract with me to help them improve annual stewardship or to conduct a campaign typically have a laser focus on their goal: raise more money! Many are somewhat taken aback when I tell them we actually have THREE goals. Can you guess what those goals are?
- Of course we want to raise more money. We don’t seek increased donations to keep the lights on or to keep the coffee pot full. We want to raise more money so that we can continue doing ministry. Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and housing the homeless cost money. If we are not about serving the marginalized and the disenfranchised, then why do we as the church exist? When we raise more money, we must tie that effort directly to the outwardly-focused ministry that is defined by the tagline “God’s work, our hands.”
- Our second goal is to grow generosity. Generosity must be taught, and it is taught not by criticizing those who we determine do not give enough. It is taught by making generosity a joyous activity, one that becomes as much a part of our spiritual life as prayer or service to others. Whether donors grow their generosity from giving $5/week to $10/week, or from $750/week to $1,000/week, celebrating that growth and sharing gratitude freely is key to making the act of giving something that donors want to repeat.
- The third goal is growing a willing volunteer base in our churches. Who are the regular volunteers in your congregation? You can probably name them. Most people do not volunteer at church because of nebulous task descriptions and never-ending assignments. When we ask people to serve as volunteers in our fundraising efforts, we provide a written job description as well as an idea of the time commitment. We also share the same gratitude and work to make their volunteer experience is satisfying enough that the next time they are asked to serve, they willingly step forward.
Amazing things happen when we don’t just focus on raising more money. When we marry the needs of donors with the ministry of the church, generational change occurs, and the church becomes something we do, not just somewhere we go.
I think the most important thing is securing gifts for ministry is to inspire people to want to give. Answering the question “how will my gift advance the Kingdom of God” is critical in helping people feel that their gifts make a difference.
I think we often fail to inspire our donors and therefor they think we just want their money. Sometimes we add an exclamation point to the end of a sentence that isn’t actually inspiring and we think people should be excited.
People want the money that they earn to make a difference. If your cause doesn’t make a difference, they will either keep it for themselves or they will give it so someone else who will make a difference. So, cast a vision for how gifts to your organization are critical in advancing your mission and your donors will be inspired to give more than you think you even need.