In recent months, we have started implementing a giving protocol at my church that I learned about in books on church finances. Here are some of the ideas we have implemented:
1. Track First-time Givers
Track every first-time giver, and send out a letter with a gift to each of them. When someone uses a tithing envelope for the first time and we have a name and an address, we send them a letter thanking them for their gift and a short thought about giving. We include a booklet on finances, a $5.00 gift card to Starbucks, a church pen, another tithing envelope, and a larger tithing envelope that is postage paid. We want them to continue on their spiritual journey.
The idea is that just as we would track a visitor and follow up, we should do the same to cultivate givers in our churches for God’s glory. I have the conviction that no Christian is a growing Christian who is not a giving Christian. It is not their money I am after, but their growth in Christ.
2. Track Giving Levels
Track every giver who crosses a threshold in his giving. ($500/$1,000; $2,500/$5,000; $7,500/$10,000; $15,000/$20,000 and above.) At each level, a packet is sent to thank him and encourage him with more items that cultivate his giving. Our goal is to help him grow to be generous to the cause of Christ.
Each envelope should have a book or booklet that teaches stewardship with a gift from the church. Members can learn generosity by the church being generous to its own members. You will not want to charge for everything. Find a way to provide free materials for your people to grow and flourish. If they see your church as giving, they will enjoy giving, too.
Put something in every envelope you send from your church that can be felt from the outside of the envelope (a pen, a booklet, a gift card, etc.). People always open an envelope that has something in it that they felt when they picked it up. Otherwise it might fall into the junk mail filing can.
3. Use Giving Reports
Send out quarterly reports with a nice letter that shows comparative giving with last year’s giving and this year’s year-to-date. Giving reports are not just for income tax purposes at the end of the year.
Giving reports should be to share with the individual where he is going and where he has been with his stewardship. Receiving them once a year at the end of the year is not beneficial to God’s work.
4. Make Giving Convenient
Develop ways to make giving convenient for your people. Here are some ideas:
Online giving—Have a donate button on your website. Promote members using their bill pay option as well to automate their giving.
In-house giving—Have a place, or places (such as a giving kiosk) where they can give or pay for things with their debit/credit card.
Preprinted tithing envelopes—These are tithing envelopes that are preprinted with: the name of the church, the date, the member’s name, the member’s giving number, the categories to give to, a place to total the gifts, a Bible verse, and a statement that reads “All designations shall be nonbinding suggestions.” Bulk envelopes would not be preprinted with a name, giving number, or date, but would include everything else.
Preprinted/postage paid envelopes—These should be placed in mail outs and also put in track racks. The idea being that many members might put their checks in the mail when they are on vacation. Many people, especially older ones, use checks to pay bills and their tithe, so make it convenient for them to do so.