Making Your Appeals Appealing

Making Your Appeals Appealing

If you weren’t the pastor, would you read your emails and letters? If you, a person highly invested in your church’s vision, are not moved by your appeals, how do you think that same appeal will appeal to your rank-and-file members? If your appeals are not appealing, you will never get an audience, and your giving will continue to struggle.

This Coach is entitled Making Your Appeals Appealing. I’m writing this at the start of summer because many of you will consider sending out an appeal to reverse your summer slump in giving. While I recommend sending summer appeals, most churches make unintentional mistakes that actually hurt their financial status rather than help it. Let me share five key mistakes I find most pastors make when it comes to making appeals for giving.

Mistake number one, they are not well thought out and planned. Take the time to do it right! If you have a staff, involve them in the process. Get input from your spouse or a few others that you trust in their judgment. Don’t make the mistake of firing off an appeal right after you get the weekly treasurer’s report on giving. Spend the time not only to think through what to write but also to pray over your appeal. The time you spend will be worth it in the results you see.

Mistake number two, they come off as sounding desperate. Reading most church appeal letters makes me feel like I’m reading a message from someone that is about to drown. Desperate appeals cause donors to ask questions that can lead to a lack of confidence in the institution. If all your appeals sound desperate after a while, I stop reading them. In fact, I’ll ignore them altogether.

Mistake number three, they are dull and boring. That is how I would describe the typical appeal letter. I fall asleep after about a sentence or two. Or, at best, I start skimming. Charities are sending your members summer giving appeals that are professionally written and thus anything but boring and dull. For instance, I recently received an appeal from a Christian soup kitchen my wife and I support. This sentence was on the outside of the envelope: “For just $1.27, you can feed a homeless person.” The typical church appeal starts with something similar to, “Help, we are behind budget and desperately need you to give us more money!” Which one touches your heart?

Mistake number four, we make it all about us. I had a pastor once send me his appeal letter. In the first paragraph, he used the personal pronoun, I, five times. Five times in one paragraph! I remembered thinking, is this about you or the appeal you’re making for the offering?

Mistake number five, we fail to connect vision to giving. Dollars follow vision. Big visions get big dollars. You know what else follows vision? People. The more people you have, the more dollars you can raise. The more dollars you raise, the easier ministry is. Since dollars follow vision, it is vital that the story and message of your summer giving strategy connect with people.

How do you make appeals appealing? Tell the story of how your church is helping change lives for eternity. Start with the story, not the appeal to give. When I write an appeal for any of you, my clients, I try and get the attention of my reader immediately. Here are three examples:

Subject line:  Babies Still at Risk in Typhoon Recovery
“Babies Still at Risk in Typhoon Recovery” was the headline that got my attention on Saturday morning. As I read this article, I couldn’t help but think, what could our church family do to help?

Subject line:  “I cannot let that woman die…”
“I cannot let that woman die…” These were the recent words of Zambian medical missionary, Sal Marini, to his wife after receiving a call at 3:00 a.m. from a woman who had just given birth to a baby but was unable to deliver the afterbirth.”

Subject line:  What does 83% mean for the destiny of children?
. That is the percentage of all Christians that make their commitment to Jesus between the ages of 4 and 14, according to a study by the International Bible Society. This is a major reason why our church puts so much emphasis on children and students.

If they don’t open your email appeal or read your direct mail letter you will never get a response from them. My advice is to craft your appeal so that the opening lines grab the reader’s attention, causing them to want to find out more.

You have seconds to capture the donor’s attention or lose them potentially forever so make your appeals appealing!

Mark Brooks – The Stewardship Coach

Missions and Ministry Moment (aka Offering Talk) – This week’s talk can be accessed after you register at:

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