You probably have church members right now who’d like to increase giving and contribute more to your ministries—but don’t have the financial know-how to make it possible.
This is especially true for younger members. According to Why Budgeting Is Hard for Young 20-Somethings, a 2014 study found that “only 18% of millennials could answer 4 out of 5 basic questions about personal finance correctly.” The article continues with “This knowledge gap could make budgeting even more of a challenge.”
This knowledge gap could make increasing giving even more of a challenge, too.
If the people in your church don’t know smart ways to handle finances, they have fewer funds available to give. And what extra money they may otherwise have had can easily be gobbled up by forgotten subscription renewals or a mistaken idea of how much they’re spending.
So this isn’t an article about how to increase your church members’ desire to give more, though we’ll touch on that to start.
It’s about nuts-and-bolts ideas to help your members make a conscious giving decision and then plan for how to follow through.Church members want to be able to give more? Provide resources and instruction to those who want to increase giving but don't have the know-how to make it happen. Click To Tweet
BEFORE YOU TEACH PLANNING FOR CHURCH GIVING
You don’t ask for donations so your church can fill its coffers, like some outside the Church (and unfortunately some inside it) mistakenly believe. Laying the right foundation for giving addresses that objection and others, helping your members begin to think about how they want to give.
3 WAYS TO START BUILDING A FOUNDATION TO INCREASE GIVING
1. TEACH BIBLICAL STEWARDSHIP AND THE RIGHT MOTIVATION
An understanding of stewardship redefines giving, putting it in a biblical perspective. Giving to God’s work isn’t relinquishing our own hard-earned funds but offering back up to God what was already his.
Giving is an opportunity we should be grateful for. First Chronicles 29:14 reflects this perspective: “But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you.”
2. TEACH THE REWARDS OF GIVING
Giving brings its own reward: as Acts 6:35 says, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” The verses following the well-known, often-taken-out-of-context “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” further reveal the blessing of giving to the Lord:
Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Philippians 4:14–20)
Paul trusted the Lord to provide, as churches today trust the Lord to provide. But he was glad that the church at Philippi chose to give because it granted them fruit to their credit. The same is true for today’s givers who give according to 2 Corinthians 9:7:
Each one must give as he had decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
Innovative online giving ideas: 7 Ways To Increase Online Tithing For Churches
3. TEACH THE IMPORTANCE OF PRAYER IN GIVING DECISIONS
It’s crucial to treat prayer as an unmissable step in giving decisions. We can plan for our finances using practical steps and tried-and-true methods, but if we neglect the Holy Spirit’s guidance, we’ve missed the mark.
There are times God calls his children to give more than seems “reasonable” so that he can show his power and provision and so that they can follow the command to live by faith (Hebrews 11:6; Romans 14:23).
For example, one pastor I know was prompted to give a sacrificially large amount to missions. He followed the Spirit’s leading and made the pledge, even though he didn’t know how he’d give such a large amount. A couple of days later, he received a hefty refund from the IRS from misfiling his return the previous year. If he hadn’t been earnestly praying and listening to the Spirit’s prompting, he would have missed out on experiencing that modern-day miracle.
5 Ways to Help Your Church Members Plan for Increased Giving
Everyone in your church might not need all of these ideas, but chances are there’s at least one that will be helpful. You could present these steps during a special financial workshop, record them and offer the videos in your church’s online community, and/or provide a handout explaining each step.
1. Advise tracking spending.
The days of carrying around a checkbook and writing out every transaction in the register are long over. And, of course, online shopping has grown more popular than ever (increasing by $900 billion in 2020). Those factors make it easy to spend money without keeping track of where it’s going.
An eye-opening 65% of Americans have no idea how much they spent last month.
To best plan for giving, people need to know how they’re spending their money. Ask them to track it, either on paper or with an app.
2. Invite reflection.
Ask members to prioritize what they want to spend their money on and reflect on whether their spending reflects their priorities.
It’s easy to say that giving to the Lord’s work is a priority, but it takes conscious effort for our actions to reflect that. Often, people don’t realize how large the gap is between intention and reality.
We could substitute “money” for “attention” in this thought-provoking question from author James Clear:
How much overlap is there between what you say is important to you and how you spent your attention over the last month?
End-of-year giving tips: How to Finish Strong by Driving Recurring Giving
3. Teach budgeting by percentages.
Learning to budget can be overwhelming, especially with so many demands on people’s time and attention. If a budgeting method is too complicated, people won’t stick with it. That’s why budgeting by percentages is so helpful. It gives clear direction for spending, yet it’s simple.
One of the most popular ways to budget by percentages is the 50-30-20 budget:
- 50% goes to needs (e.g., housing and car payments, groceries)
- 30% goes to wants (e.g., church and missions giving, vacation, and entertainment)
- 20% goes to savings or loan repayments
Some resources suggest breaking down the 20% savings further, but that could be something beginning budgeters save for later:
- 10% for long-term goals (e.g., retirement)
- 5% for emergencies
- 5% for specific short-term goals (e.g., new appliances)
To help people figure out their percentage of giving, you could share a tool like this giving goal calculator.
4. Offer ideas for monthly or quarterly giving challenges.
It’s natural to have the idea that giving a few extra dollars here and there doesn’t really make a difference, so people often don’t think to make small additional contributions.
For example, someone spends $6 less on groceries this month than they budgeted for. Most people’s default is to leave that in the checking account for next month, or maybe to move it to savings.
Giving challenges can help them realize that those $6 can help provide for a need (especially if you designate the funds toward a specific purpose, like buying a missionary a new laptop).
Here are a few ideas for challenges you could run or invite people to do on their own:
- Skip eating out one Sunday this month and donate what you would have spent.
- Skip fancy coffee for a month and donate what you would have spent.
- Do a “no-spend” week or month where you eat what you already have at home and don’t make any purchases. Donate what you would have spent.
- Pause one subscription for a month (e.g., Audible, Netflix) and donate that amount.
- Add $5 to your usual giving amount.
Be sure to share the fruits of these efforts with your church, showing amounts raised and what was made possible because of givers’ generosity.Giving challenges can open our eyes to the daily opportunities to save and share resources. Try skipping that morning latte once a week or pausing a streaming service and then donating the saved money. Click To Tweet
5. Be open about your church’s finances and needs.
Spending transparency is important because people want to know where their tithes and offerings are going. That’s not surprising.
But don’t forget to keep your people up to date on your church’s needs. This goes for big expenditures like renovations or purchasing property, but it includes smaller ones too: new toys for the nursery, more chairs, additional lighting for the parking lot. When people hear about these needs and how much it will cost to meet them, it gives them a clear picture of how their gifts can help accomplish something.
And don’t miss providing other opportunities for increased giving, especially at the end of the year. For help with developing a solid plan, download the Simple Strategies for Successful Year-End Giving guide for free.