Highlights of “The Year-End Church Giving Guide”
Reviewed by the Rev. Rosanna Anderson, Associate Director of Stewardship Ministries at Discipleship Ministries of The United Methodist Church
The Year -End Church Giving Guide: Accelerating Your Church’s Generosity Culture Through a Successful Year-End Project
by Brad Leeper and Greg Morris, Generis
This helpful guide was written by Brad Leeper and Greg Morris at Generis, an established church generosity consulting organization based in Atlanta. The guide describes a step-by-step process to create an excellent year-end project that your church can create to focus giving for a special ministry or mission. Practical information is packed into this inspiring twenty-four page guide. It is designed to help you and your leadership team discern what God may be calling you to do in your context. The guide features a sequence of steps to help your leadership team determine how to direct your energy to accomplish an awesome goal. The project would launch on the Sunday before or after Thanksgiving and conclude on December 31. The authors suggest you have a team at church with coffee and donuts to receive people’s gifts on the last day of the year, or even provide dog biscuits for those walking their dogs, so that they cans drop off their contribution!
Leeper and Morris outline their philosophy about why conducting this type of project should be a high priority (page 3). A year-end project has three key motivations:
It prompts spiritual growth.
It normalizes the giving conversation.
It provides an opportunity to talk about mission and vision.
The Year-End Church Giving Guide raises questions to help your team establish a project goal that is “reasonable, achievable, and incremental” (p. 8). It recommends creating the needed communication tools, such as “a basic print piece, an engaging video, a response mechanism, and a separate webpage on your church’s website” (p. 12). Here is a spiritual approach balanced with practical ideas.
The authors also describe steps for creating “multiple on-ramps to give” (p. 13-14). Today we are especially interested in ways to use technology efficiently and encourage people to use online giving. People today may have a smart phone in their pocket, but not cash or a check. Mobile giving is featured, including a link to pushpay, a digital giving platform supplied by echurch (p. 14). This is one of many options that you may want to explore for digital giving.
Through the leadership of the pastor, the church staff and the leadership team, your congregation can see this project as a great way to expand their generosity. The guide includes all the steps along the way, including telling the story through your “impact report,” which is similar to a narrative budget but calls people “to even greater levels of generosity” (p. 15). There is also a helpful template for “legal boundaries of receiving gifts” (p. 18). We know that it is essential to thank people graciously, and thoughtful ways to do this in a timely fashion are included (p. 20-21). When it’s time to celebrate, we may frame it as joy in growing in faithfulness through what God is doing in people’s lives (p. 22). In the spring after Easter, in April or May, is the recommended time to “illustrate the results and impact of the giving” (p. 22). A vivid example of this is a celebration video that shows “the first streams of water being pumped from a well in a region that had previously been without water” (p. 22). It is wonderful to see how our giving can transform lives.
To conclude, Leeper and Morris share their hope that this guide will help you “elevate and accelerate your church’s generosity culture, the vision and outreach of the church, and ultimately the spiritual development of everyone involved” (p. 24). May you and your church be encouraged, indeed!