What will be different?

March 23rd, 2015

In a few weeks, many churches will be sending out their first quarter report. It may share some things about the church and will certainly contain some notation about the giving of the recipient. What will be different this year than last? The only reason to do the same thing as last year is if you hope to have exactly the same results as 2014. If you hope for more disciples and more generous people and subsequently more dollars, then perhaps you should consider something different from what you did before. DUH!

1) The email blast or congregational letter died about 10 years ago. They are not helpful. Successful churches have learned that they must segment their communications. The person who is a lifelong tither should get one type of letter, and the person who has not given in over a year another type of communication. First time donors should get something unique. Just like the longtime $50.00 a week donor. This first quarter every church should segment out the congregation's donor base into at least five segments and in larger churches, it may be more. At a minimum these should be 1)Tithers; 2)Those continuing to give as before; 3)Those who have increased from previous year; 4) First time donors; 5) Non-donors.

2) With your quarterly report statement, you must have a story that has passion in it about the ministry of the church. You want your communication to touch the heart and not the head. Giving comes from the heart! Write out what you want to send to the congregation, and then ask someone in the office, "When you read this, do you feel anything or do you just know more than before?" "Does this letter show passion and the impact our church is having on persons and the community?" If you get a yes to both, then send it. If you get a no, then redo it.

3) In your quarterly report, is there any information to help people know all the different ways they can give to the church — website, kiosk, EFT, Plate, QR code, cellphone? Have you created any new avenues for persons to use this year? If not, what else might you do? Have you even created a new way to give since you had a flip phone? The donor world is changing. Is your church changing with it?

4) Finally, what two things that have historically been supported through your operating budget can you give your members the opportunity to support through a designated gift this year? The unified budget quit working with the typewriter. Today's donors like designating more than ever before. How can you fulfill that desire in them and help the church at the same time?

For a great many of our churches the first quarter report is the time to start making a difference in stewardship for 2015. Of course, you could just wait till December and beg again!

J. Clif Christopher blogs at Horizons Stewardship.

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