A Giving Strategy for Churches

Many churches struggle with balancing the books and with inspiring their congregation about giving. This eight point approach was developed in two large churches in the UK. It emphasises the importance of a vision and mission for the church that is understood and owned by the congregation.

Many churches rarely mention money in their sermons or in their communications until there is a financial crisis. At that point they often only talk about the deficit, rather than inspiring the congregation with the vision and mission that together they are engaged in.

 

In my experience every church needs a joined up plan, a jigsaw if you like, which integrates several aspects of the church’s activities. I call this a strategy for giving. Each church needs to develop and implement its own customised giving strategy. This can be based on the strategy and the methodology for developing and implementing a strategy explained in this resource.

 

It’s important to recognise at the outset that giving isn’t just about money, it includes time, talents, practical service and prayer. In any congregation there will be those who are “richer” in some aspects of these than in others.

 

An eight point giving strategy includes

  1. An agreed Vision for the church’s mission within & beyond the local area, which is owned by the congregation.

  2. Regular Prayer for the vision and mission of the church, to include prayer for this to be fully resourced, both financially and practically, and trusting God to provide.

  3. Biblical Teaching about generosity, money, good stewardship and giving. The giving aspect should always be in the context of giving as part of Christian discipleship, to provide for the church’s vision and mission. It should also explain the responsibility of members of the church family to support the church financially whilst acknowledging the giving of time and talents as equally important.

  4. Practical Education about how to give (including tax effectively) and about money management. This can be through testimony and practical explanation in a church service, as part of a discipleship course, through articles on the church website and in a magazine. An information sheet, the availability of advisers at the end of some services or separate training events may also be helpful.

  5. Regular Communication inspiring the congregation about the church’s vision, as well as raising awareness of the financial resources needed to deliver that vision and mission. The latter delivered in a simple and interesting way which demonstrates that funds are well managed and that the budget prioritises the ministries in the church vision.

  6. Regular Feedback & thank yous. This engages people: inspire them with the outcomes of the activities that have taken place such as: an evangelism course, the homeless shelter, the food bank, the children’s holiday club, the work of mission partners overseas, the Christmas services. Thank them that this is as a result of their giving, as well as their prayer and practical service. Update them (eg quarterly) regarding the income and expenditure for the year so far and how that compares with the amount needed to fulfil the vision and mission for the full year.

  7. Providing Opportunities to pledge and to give, as well as a variety of ways to give. There need to be plenty of opportunities which could include an annual pledge day or membership day at the start of the calendar and/or financial year, gift days for specific projects as well as a thanksgiving prayer (for all that has been given by whatever means) at every service. In addition collecting cash, cheques and charity vouchers at services, online giving, text giving, direct debits and/or standing orders should be available.

  8. A competent Finance team to oversee and undertake the practicalities. This will include setting a budget for the year with a “balanced portfolio” across different aspects of the church’s ministry and mission.

 

Six steps for developing and implementing the strategy

Here are a series of steps to help you develop and implement your tailored church giving strategy.

1. Engage the leadership team (PCC, elders, diaconate or ministry team) in discussion to ensure they understand and support the church’s vision and so that they buy into all the aspects of the giving strategy (or to developing one) and to the method of implementation.

2. Use an interactive approach to obtain feedback and to facilitate the cross fertilisation of ideas. With a larger group (such as a church council) it may help to use a structured conversation process (known by some as a World Café) for opinion and information sharing in which small groups discuss a series of topics at several tables, each with a well-briefed table host. People move tables every ten minutes or so and are introduced to the previous discussion at their new table by the table host. The host records the comments, questions and ideas on flipchart paper on the table for all to see.

 

Here are some suggested questions you could use, grouped by 4 themes which link to the strategy:

 

Vision, Mission & Prayer

  • What is (or should be) the church’s current vision and mission?

  • What would help church members understand and own the vision and mission better?

  • How can the church community pray more effectively about its vision, mission, activities and finances?

  • Finance & Giving strategy

  • What’s good about the proposed giving strategy concept that’s been outlined?

  • Is there anything you’d add to the giving strategy for this church?

  • Is there anything you think should be removed from the giving strategy?

  • Should anything be done to strengthen and support the church finance team?

 

Finance & Giving strategy

  • What’s good about the proposed giving strategy concept that’s been outlined?

  • Is there anything you’d add to the giving strategy for this church?

  • Is there anything you think should be removed from the giving strategy?

  • Should anything be done to strengthen and support the church finance team?

Preaching, teaching & practical education

  • What topics around money, giving, generosity and stewardship/trusteeship does our congregation need preaching and teaching on to help them in discipleship?

  • What other ways could we practically educate our congregation about:

    • Their use of money

    • Giving

 

Communication, engagement, raising awareness & opportunities

  • How can we raise awareness & increase congregational engagement with:

    • The church’s vision and mission.

    • The annual budget in the context of the vision & mission.

    • Current income levels, the financial forecast for the year and where appropriate the need to increase income/giving

  • What opportunities and practical means might facilitate an increase in giving?

 

Of course you may also like to ask all church attendees to answer these questions, perhaps undertaking an on-line survey using Survey Monkey www.surevymonkey.co.uk 

3. Ask each facilitator to write a summary of views and suggested actions from all that’s been discussed on their theme. This should be given to the person or team tasked to develop the strategy. The answers will be different in every church.

4. The feedback is worked into a draft implementation plan or several plans (one for each of the discussion themes) by the person or ideally a small working group tasked to develop the giving strategy. The tasks identified will need to be prioritised. Each plan should have a champion and the plan will show tasks with the name of the person undertaking on each task and a suggested completion date. Tasks can be shared between ministers, treasurer, other members of the leadership team, church staff and congregation members, as relevant to the particular setting. NB The exercise may identify that the congregation (and even some leaders) aren’t clear about the church’s vision and mission or there may not be one in place yet. This is the priority before giving can be addressed.

5. The giving strategy and implementation plan is reviewed by the church leadership, then edited as appropriate, before being affirmed and approved by them.

6. The champions implement the tasks in the plans and report progress to the church leadership for example at leadership team meetings or church council meetings at appropriate (eg quarterly) intervals.

 

Intended Outcomes

  1. The congregation understands and owns the church vision and mission.

  2. The congregation is better informed and better educated about money and giving, including their responsibility to give and how to go about it.

  3. The congregation is inspired to give and use the opportunities provided to increase their giving.

  4. The church is able to fulfil its vision and mission more effectively.

  5. God, as ultimate provider, honours the prayers and giving of His people.

 

Signposts

http://www.theworldcafe.com/key-concepts-resources/world-cafe-method/  and https://www.mutualgain.org/training/world-cafe/ 

 

Author and copyright Helen Calder 2019

Peer reviewed by Wayne Kirkland