It is late but it is not too late to increase end of year giving! Last year I helped Cross Church of Northwest Arkansas, one of America’s largest churches, see the largest amount ever given to their Ministry Budget bringing in $3,600,068. Their business administrator wrote, “In the midst of ominous political times, lots of negative news about our country’s economy, and a looming fiscal cliff – our Church had an amazing and God-sized year-end in the area of giving.” What is truly significant is that this end of year push allowed them to reverse a 2011 -3% decline in giving to a 12% increase in 2012!
Why the End of Year Matters
Retailers count how many shopping days until Christmas because they know that those days are key towards their making their budgets for 2013. Studies show that for many retailers the holiday season can represent as much as 20-40% of annual sales. Churches should count how many days are left in the year because those days are key towards making their budgets for 2013. Studies have shown that charities collect around 22% of all their yearly giving the last two days of the year! Nearly every church in America sees a steep increase in giving.
Increasing end of year giving doesn’t just happen you have to plan for success. How was it that we saw at Cross Church happened? We developed a plan and we work our plan. They did not simply sit by and HOPE that giving would increase. They worked to see it increase. What are your plans?
A simple plan of action for increasing end of year giving – Here are the key steps you need to take RIGHT NOW to see your giving increase in the next few weeks.
First, build the “ask” around what motivates people to give to the church, missions and ministry! Your appeal, or “ask,” must motivate people to give. So, make it about more than simply making budget. Tell them why making budget is important. Every “ask” needs a driver. A driver is the motivation that gets me to dip into my pocket and give you more money.
Secondly, write out the appeal using both regular mail and e-mail to tell your story. Make sure you start with a gripping paragraph of why people should give. Here is an example that I recently wrote for another client that is making their end of year appeal revolve around missions support…
“Babies Still at Risk in Typhoon Recovery,” was the headline that got my attention on Saturday morning. Then I read the heartbreaking words of a father who said, “My children are having a lack of milk because there are no supplies.” While the news cycle has moved on to other issues people are still struggling with basic needs in the Philippines. What could our church family do was my thought?
Think of some compelling reason for why people should give or simply tell what you have accomplished this year. Cross Church of Northwest Arkansas builds their end of year appeals around a report of the last year called, “The Miracle Continues.” You can view it here http://crosschurch.com/annualreview/
Finally, get the message out there! When consulting with churches like Cross Church I advise them to use every platform they have to link people to the end of year appeal. The primary platform is direct mail the good old fashioned way. Snail mail is still by far the best means of collecting end of year donations. So, while it is late get yours in the mail. Today!
Then I recommend you use your online tools such as your website and your Social Media sites to remind people of giving. Make the “asks” positive not desperate and people will respond.
One final “ask” on December 31st could make the difference. Send out an email to your entire donor base asking them to make a contribution to your missions and ministry. Studies have shown that the window of opportunity for email appeals is between 2 PM and 7 PM.
So, once again, it is getting late but it is not too late! Let’s get started on seeing your end of year giving being the best ever!
Mark Brooks- The Stewardship Coach
Founder and President, The Charis Group and Charis Giving Solutions
If you would like more information about steps for end of year giving go to http://thecharisgroup.org/year-end-giving/