4 Ways Software Helps Grow Giving

Tuesday, March 18, 2014 7:50:00 AM Categories: Generosity Ministry & Technology
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Let’s face it, all of us in church leadership know that realizing a God-given vision is easier when it’s funded.  But talking about money in church is often perceived to be a touchy subject. Did you know that church management software can help?  Consider the following four essential practices that can help you improve financial-discipleship.

1) Offer online giving opportunities.  How often do people really write checks any more?  For many people, the only time they write a check is when they give to church.  Many young adults struggle to even remember the location of their checkbook.  For a growing majority of Americans, everything financial is automated and done online.  There is no reason not to have a link on your website to allow people to give.  

Paypal is an easy option for many churches.  But once your digital giving reaches around $3,500 per month it becomes cheaper to use the service your ChMS offers.  The best donation systems automatically post contributions to the giver’s account.  They also fully integrate payment options for other uses like event registration.  With online convenience and emphasis on setting up recurring giving, many churches see an increase of 15-20% in giving.  Options like debit card only and ACH withdrawals help minimize fees.  

2) Identify and communicate with first time givers.  What is the last thing a good company says to you after you purchase their goods or services?  “Thank You!”   Even if you buy something online, you get a thank you and a follow-up email.  You need to do the same when someone gives to your church, especially for the first time.  

     Start by asking pastors to write a note to first time givers.  Good church management software will generate automatic reports showing new donors who have been added to the system.  Adding a personal note to first time givers reinforces their decision to give and will inspire them to do it again.  Think about it, it’s common courtesy to tell someone their gift is appreciated and they are valued not taken for granted.

3) Identify and communicate with those who have stopped giving.  Everyone knows that a person’s calendar and their checkbook is the most clear and honest communication about what that person or family values.  So, when someone that has given over time stops giving, it is an indication that something is going on in their lives.  

Perhaps the family is going through some tough economic times.  That’s the perfect opportunity for pastoral care, prayer and service.  It could be that the family is in process of transitioning out of your church or maybe they are leaving your city.  Either way, it is worthwhile to check in with them and to express your appreciation and heart for them.  The best church management software has the ability to provide this information for you.  Pastors don’t need to know the amounts and details, just a heads up that there has been a change alerts them to look for needs.

4) Send out quarterly investors reports.   Every January you are required by law to send out an annual statement of a family’s giving over $250 from the previous year so that they can claim it on their taxes.  But think about it for a minute: that’s the government’s minimum standard.  Shouldn’t we, as church leaders, do more than the minimum that’s required of us?

One of the most common practices among churches committed to stewardship development is a quarterly investor’s report.  This is typically an update on the vision of the church written by the senior or executive pastor much like a company’s quarterly shareholder report.  It gives the senior leadership an opportunity to target communication to the people most invested in the livelihood of the church and its vision.  It is recommended that a quarterly / year-to-date statement be attached to this communication.  In some donation systems, this is a monumental task requiring many hours of time and much expense for materials.  In others, it is as simple as pasting the pastor’s letter into an email and running a report that pushes out the email with an attached .pdf file to everyone who has given.

Technology is changing the way we do commerce and the way we relate to each other.  We all love our mobile devices and cool web applications.  They’ve changed our way of thinking.  There are church management systems out there built from this same worldview.  They are providing structure and systems for consistent execution of the best practices of every aspect of ministry life including stewardship.  

Boyd Pelley. Is Co-founder and CEO of Churchteams.com. He served for 18 years as Discipleship Pastor, Church Administrator and Family Pastor for churches in New Mexico, Nebraska and Texas. He has a bent toward improving processes and a passion for making disciples. Married for 27 years, he and Pam have 2 grown children.