By Gary Rohrmayer | President & Executive Minister
December is the largest giving month for most churches and non-profit organizations. Early in my ministry, I learned that most non-profits see 25% of their giving revenue come in during the last month of the year. I thought, “Wow. We must be doing really well! Our giving is spread out pretty much evenly across the year.” Then I realized that we were missing an opportunity to expand our vision, increase our giving units and unleash a spirit of generosity.
Here are six ideas that will help you make the most of your Christmas and year-end offerings:
1. Start earlier
Start earlier so that you can get your administration team excited about this opportunity to cast a meaningful vision and create an opportunity to expand the church's giving. Start earlier so that you can capitalize on individuals’ year-end giving plan. One thing I realized is that those who make large contributions to non-profits typically make their year-end giving decision in November.
2. Pick your three giving projects
This is an opportunity to share how your church’s giving is impacting your community, people outside your church and around the world. We encourage you to pick one that will enhance your local ministry and two that will expand your vision for church planting and world missions.
Here's an example of the three projects chosen by one of our church planters a few years ago:
- Local Evangelism - They expanded their evangelism budget significantly
- Regional Church Planting - They blessed Converge MidAmerica's matching grant fund
- World Missions - They raised a full year of support for a missionary who came out of their church
3. Develop a communication plan
- Three November notices before Thanksgiving
- One mailed letter from the pastor with a giving envelope
- E-Newsletters pointing to online giving
- Build a year-end giving webpage and use a Facebook and Twitter campaign to drive people to the website
- One announcement in the bulletin and from the pulpit on the Sunday before Thanksgiving
- First Sunday - Promote Project #1 through a video/personal testimony
- E-Newsletter - Promote Project #1 - pointing to website/online giving
- Second Sunday - Promote Project #2 through a video/personal testimony
- E-Newsletter - Promote Project #2 - pointing to website/online giving
- Third Sunday - Promote Project #3 through a video/personal testimony
- E-Newsletter - Promote Project #3 - pointing to website/online giving
- Christmas Eve Services - Include a brochure highlighting all three projects with a special giving envelope after Christmas
- Send out email-blast celebrating the progress and inviting people to give
- Send out one last appeal on December 31st
- Announce the results via pulpit, e-news and letters
- Send thank you notes to all who participated
- Share the "thank yous" you have received from the organizations that were touched through the campaign
4. Celebrate progress
Saying "thank you" well is critical to the health of any ministry. It is important for you to say thank you personally to individuals and publicly through updates.
Here are a few things to celebrate:
- Amount given
- Impact the funds are making
- Number of families giving to the campaign
- Number of first-time givers to the church as a result of the campaign
5. Push it to the very end of the year
Send out updates and appeal emails up until December 31st. An article by Worship Facilities Magazine cites that 22% of all donations to charities occur the last two days of the year! They even go so far as encouraging ministries to send out one last appeal on December 31st at 2 PM EST. Why then? Studies have shown that 2 PM EST is the most effective time for an email donation request.
6. Embrace the benefits
- #1 - God is blessed through our giving
- #2 - Those who give are blessed in participating (both individuals and churches)
- #3 - Lives will be impacted for eternity
- #4 - The church’s vision will be expanded and celebrated
- #5 - The church will discover first-time givers through this process
Remember, there is a difference between a last-minute appeal and an emergency appeal. Emergency appeals are understandable just by the nature of them, but last-minute appeals always feel last minute! If this is important, then take the time to make your year-end giving campaign feel important, special and needed.
- Who can help you in planning and executing your year-end giving campaign?
- What percentage of your offering comes in during the month of December?
- What ministry in your church needs a boost of funding?
- What regional partners can you bless and recognize though this offering?
- What world mission partners could you bless and recognize though this offering?