Decorations are up, your Christmas sermon planning is in full swing, and in the midst of all the organizing and planning you have one more thing on your mind—end-of-year giving.
31% of charitable giving happens in December because for many donors this is the last chance to get their giving reflected on this year’s taxes, and for companies their fiscal year often ends in December.
Anywhere you look this time of year, it’s common to see organizations putting together one big push for donations before January 1. However, churches and church leaders can often feel deterred from talking about this topic too much for fear of being pushy, seeming ungrateful, or to focus on other important reminders during the holiday season.
While we want to be intentional about how we talk about finances, we also have a responsibility to think and talk about end-of-year giving in a way that honors our church’s mission and doesn’t let this opportunity go unnoticed.
Here are a few tips on how to approach end-of-year giving:
1. Talk about it.
There is a reason so many people and organizations have a big push at the end of the year. It’s not only the last opportunity to get donations in this calendar year, but this is also a major opportunity to practice a mindset of generosity. Around the Christmas season, we are surrounded by opportunities to “buy, buy, buy” that can shift our focus on what we don’t have rather than appreciate what we do.
But the true reason for the season is to celebrate the birth of Christ, recognize the hope we have, and practice giving generously out of gratitude of the gift we have received in Jesus.
You may have a fear that talking about giving in a public way may put undue pressure or an expectation on those who cannot afford to be generous. However, we have to remember that God works in everyone’s heart individually, and will lead each person individually. When we present the reasons giving matters in the ministry of the church, we can trust God to faithfully lead those in our congregation through how they should individually respond.
People can’t respond to a need if they don’t know the need exists.
2. This isn’t the only time to ask people to give.
While this is a great opportunity for giving, you can take some pressure off your shoulders by remembering that this isn’t the only time of the year that people can give. You have many faithful, monthly givers who donate year-round to support your ministry.
Take a deep breath and remember that this isn’t an all-or-nothing situation. It’s an opportunity we can leverage as much as possible and an opportunity to give people a chance to get involved with what God is doing in your church, but this isn’t the only time of the year you can invite your congregation to take this step.
3. Connect giving to a specific outcome.
What are people’s gifts going to be used for? People like to help you meet a specific need or fund a project. This also helps build excitement around your ministry and allows you to tangibly show people how their dollars help achieve the mission. You might consider connecting your end-of-year giving with a building project, ministry upgrade, or particular area of service so people can see something tangible their dollars will go towards.
There may also be years that you have a shortage in your budget from lower giving throughout the year. Make sure you communicate that need to your congregation. The majority of people won’t know you have a potential deficit if you don’t communicate it to them.
4. Incorporate storytelling into your messaging.
End-of-year giving isn’t just about soliciting donations; it’s a chance to celebrate what God has done through generosity in the past. This is an opportunity to talk about the heart of your ministry and even share some stories of the impact you have been able to have through generous giving in the past!
What stories can you focus on telling as you invite people to give generously?
5. 73% of church giving happens throughout the week.
You don’t have to push people to give only on Sunday mornings. In fact, many people do the majority of their giving during the week. This means that you should be including an opportunity to give in your emails, on social media, and even giving people a text reminder. These helpful reminders throughout the week with a direct link to where they can donate are a great way to lead people to take action whenever they are ready.
The end of the year is a great opportunity to give people options to donate and practice generosity. As church leaders, we have a responsibility to talk about how people can get involved without guilting them into giving.
By following the tips above, you can start thinking about end-of-year giving in a way that is God-honoring and doesn’t let the timeliness of this season pass you by.
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