Which would be better, a large one-time gift or a small gift given monthly over time? In this edition of the Stewardship Journal, we share the importance of setting up recurring giving through your online provider. How significant is a recurring gift? Let me show you by telling you the story of my parents.
Every month my 93-year-old parents, Joe and Mary Jo Brooks, write a $50 check to their former dentist, who makes dental mission trips worldwide. This is above the 10% my parents give to their church. $50 might not seem like much, but my parents have been doing this monthly since 1985. They have given over $21,000 to Dr. Ron Lamb’s World Dental Relief Ministry. Every cent and dollar of that amount came via a paper check delivered by the United States Postal Service.
In our rush to be all things modern, we must not forget those who still like to write an old-fashioned check. We might not think those small gifts matter, but they do, especially when you have steady monthly givers like my parents. This is why I direct my clients to have a direct mail approach for this segment of their church.
My parents now live in an assisted living facility, limiting their ability to get out and about. Yet the US mail comes six days a week, picking up and delivering mail. Every month after receiving that $50 check, World Dental Relief Ministry sends my parents a thank you letter and a gift receipt with another self-addressed envelope, making it easier for my folks to send in next month’s gift. This is the equivalent of setting up recurring giving. At any point, my parents could have sent a letter back and said stop. They never did, even when times were tight. They have never missed a month which is why they have now given over $21,000 to date. That is the value of a recurring gift.
Even if you only have a fraction of Seniors in your church, this segment can add great value both in dollars given and testimonies of faith. Let’s not rob them of the joy of still being a part of something life-changing for the Kingdom. One way to keep them connected is through old-fashioned snail mail. I help my clients utilize the postal service to communicate their vision through direct mail. It can significantly increase your giving, both short-term and for many years to come if done correctly.
How is it done correctly? First, by faithfully telling the story of your missions and ministry and the importance of a gift to that work. I also advise that every letter include a self-addressed postage-paid envelope that makes it easy for your Seniors to respond. Also, include the URL to your giving page as studies show seniors are using printed links to access online giving portals. By informing the donor of giving opportunities or thanking them for a gift, our response, or lack thereof, can mean all the difference between a one-time gift and a gift that spans decades.
One reason my parents never missed sending their monthly checks is that World Dental Relief Ministry keeps them informed of the need for medical and dental work and the results of their work. My parents get to read and see the impact of their gifts. This monthly letter keeps them connected with the worldwide work even while never leaving their apartment. This helps them see the value of their monthly gift, which increases the likelihood of another $50 check. By telling your story, you, too, can benefit from shut-ins like my parents, who still want to make a difference for the Kingdom.
How many potential $50 per month givers does your church have? Even churches with a small minority of Seniors can see these kinds of gifts. I see churches sometimes averaging 10% or more of their total giving from what we old-timers used to call shut-ins. How many faithful saints of your church community still living would love to see their gift making a Kingdom impact? Direct mail gives them that chance. As you work to increase your online giving and recurring giving, remember that not all recurring giving is digital.