Summer is on the way. For many churches that means some of our dynamics shift and change. People are more likely to be away on vacation. Families are taking their kids to summer camps. We can see a decline in attendance at our churches. On top of the softness in attendance, many churches see a small decline in their giving over the summer time. Now is the time to start planning for this annual reality and put into place a few strategies to help your church reverse this trend.
5 Tips for Helping Your Church Beat the Summer Giving Slump
Most churches operate on a thin margin between their normal monthly giving and their expenses. Oftentimes, that margin goes away in the summer months. This can be a problem for a church because they are attempting to invest to get their ministries ready for a busy fall, and just at the moment they are looking for a few extra resources, the cash flow just can’t sustain those investments. This doesn’t need to be the case! You can put a few practices in place this spring and summer to help your church launch into the fall strong because of healthy giving over the summer months. Here is some practical help for your church to navigate through this season in the life of your church!
1. Automation beats Determination
Late spring is the perfect time to remind people that they can set up automated giving to your church. Explain to people that if just rely on determination in their lives they will often fade out. However, if you set things to run on automation, they happen consistently over time. Ask people to join your automated giving program to continue to fuel the ministry of the church.
Don’t rely on just a single announcement to get this request through to people, but communicate this message through a few different channels. Make sure to at least communicate it in these 5 ways:
Announcement – Take time out to explain it during a Sunday morning.
Walk Away Hand Out – Give them a card to take with them explaining how to set it up.
Immediate Email – Follow up with a Sunday afternoon email from your team reinforcing the message.
Direct Mail – Time a piece of mail to arrive at your people’s homes shortly after the announcement.
Later That Week Email – Email your people again a few days later to remind them and let them know that others have been signing up too!
5 Benefits of Automated Giving for Your Church:
Smooth Out the Bumps – As people travel in summertime (or at other times of the year) their giving will continue to flow to the church.
Not Prepared – People are increasingly carrying less cash (let alone checks) with them on Sundays.
Larger Average Giving – Studies have shown that people who give online and through automated methods give larger individual gifts and more over time.
Regular Reminder – By people giving regularly to your church they will receive a consistent reminder of your church and how they are growing in their relationship with Jesus. It’s a part of discipling your people!
Increased Revenue – You will see more giving flow to your church.
2. Consider Hosting a 90-Day Tithe Challenge
A 90-Day Tithe Challenge picks up on Malachi 3, where God seems to indicate that he wants people to challenge him in generosity. Ask people to tithe for three months to your church, and if they then believe God hasn’t been faithful to them during that time, give them back their tithe…no questions asked!
If you haven’t heard of this before I could understand if you are suspicious! I would suggest you start by listening in on other churches as they talk about this with their people. Listen to their messages and download their materials. It will help you frame up how you’re going to present this challenge to your community. Here are some churches who have done the 90-Day Tithe Challenge:
Liquid Church – I think Tim did a superb job with this.
LCBC – Some great support materials, including updates and resources.
Life.Church [Video] – Hear Craig doing a great job explaining the challenge.
5 Questions to Ask Before Hosting a 90-Day Tithe Challenge:
Do you want something for people or from people? Many churches report an increase in regular giving when they utilize a campaign like this, but if that’s your only reason for doing it, people will know. Do you really believe that a generous lifestyle is what people need? Are you modeling that in your own life? Take some time to reflect and pray before deciding on this direction. Make sure you are looking to help people, not just increase your offering.
What’s the easiest way to gather interest? A well thought-out response card during the service should make it straightforward for people to get more information. This is a massive (and sometimes intimidating) decision for people to make; we don’t want them getting tripped up on a clunky response mechanism. (Tip: Ask people to respond if they are looking for more information, rather than asking them to commit to the challenge right in the service.)
How are you going to thank the people who get involved? It’s a big deal that people are giving in this way. For most of the program participants, it will be the most significant giving they have done to a church in their entire lives. You need to reinforce that they are making the right decision. There will be a lot of indications in their lives that this is the wrong decision…including bills, car repairs and family members! Sending people a copy of a book like The Money Challenge: 30 Days of Discovering God’s Design for You and Your Money might be a great way to reinforce this decision!
How will you keep people engaged? It’s one thing to commit to doing a challenge like this during a service when people feel inspired; it’s another thing to stay motivated for the entire 90 days! We sent emails every Thursday to all the people who signed up to participate in the challenge. Some of the emails were encouragements from Scripture, some solicited stories, others retold those stories to people to keep them encouraged. We finished the challenge with a video from our lead pastor, thanking people for participating and encouraging them to continue.
How can you publicly celebrate this breakthrough? Churches who have been through this process have seen so many cool stories come out of the people’s lives who commit to this challenge. How are you capturing these stories and then sharing them with the wider church? You can see an example of one of these stories from Liquid Church here. Sharing these stories builds your people’s faith to consider taking this massive step in their lives!