How to Maximize End of Year Giving for Your Church Part 1

As I write this, there are 53 shopping days til Christmas. There, I said it. 53 Days. This also means that there are less than 60 days until the new year. I say this not as a tribute to consumerism, but because if your church is not focused on your end-of-year giving plan, it is time to get moving!

It’s estimated that consumers in the US will donate over 48 billion dollars to nonprofits in November and December this year.  Because there are four times the number of nonprofits compared to churches we have to be more strategic in how we stand out in a crowded field of organizations all vying for the same end of year dollars.

In this series I will be breaking down how prepare and organize your year-end campaign, how to develop your end of year appeal, and how to execute your year end campaign.

Planning, planning, planning, is the key to success in this venture but fear not, as there are some simple steps you can take to get your end of year giving ready for prime time.  

Step 1  Determine Your End of Year Giving Goal

1. Define your combined year-end giving goal.

This may seem like an obvious one, but if you don’t know what target you’re shooting at, you’re unlikely to achieve anything. Don’t set this number by deciding what you need to survive. Use this as an opportunity to financially prepare the church for what God is calling you to do next. The best way to determine what your goal should be is to look back at the data from the past year to help you forecast what to expect. At the same time, don’t be afraid to set a goal that makes you a little uncomfortable. You’re leaving room for God to do something amazing.

2. Evaluate past year-end giving behavior.

Look at the last two years (previous five years are best) and see if you can uncover any trends. You cannot repeat, enhance, or change trends unless you first understand what they are. If you’re unsure of where to start, consider these tactics:

  • Look at what age groups typically give the most and the least during this giving season.
  • Determine when most people typically give.
  • Define the date when the year-end giving season begins in your church and when it ends.  
  • Determine how many different ways people give to your church during the year-end giving season (e.g., stocks, cash, checks, donor advised funds, etc.).
  • Take into account what has typically been the year-end giving season in your church.

3. Divide your givers into categories.

People are unlikely to change their normal behavior for year-end giving. However, if you understand their typical behavior, you can make it easier for them to give their year-end dollars to your church. Some different categories might be:

  • Who gave online?
  • Who gave by check?
  • Who gave via donor advised funds or stocks?
  • When did people give?
  • What age group had the most number of giving units?
  • What age group had the highest per-gift average?
  • Who gave and is also an active volunteer or leader?

4.  Decide which communication medium you’ll use for maximum impact in each category.

Some people will read direct mail and some won’t. Don’t send everyone the same communication piece using the same medium. If you do, you’ll likely miss connecting with many of your core givers.

Start by taking an inventory of all the different ways your church communicates with givers (e.g., social media, e-mail, video, direct mail, etc.). Make sure you utilize the most effective ones and experiment with a few others.

5. Determine a per-family goal.

Take your core giving units or families and divide your year-end giving goal among them. Add 25 percent to the number to account for giving at varying levels and since not everyone will give to your church during the year-end giving season. People usually rise to the level of expectation set for them. Plus, it makes their contribution tangible.

All of these steps should be actionable within your ChMS database, You should be able to search for the people that meet these criteria and then group them together into segments that you will use for your End of Year Appeal. Next week we will discuss how to build your Year End appeal and get things moving.

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