Here are some basic thoughts for you to think through.
- Deciding what your “ask” will be. You must be careful when you say that line out loud! A key point to remember is, need drives the “ask.” If you are behind budget, then that is where you want to put your focus. Let’s say, however, that you are ahead of budget but need help in other areas like a capital campaign or a special need. The fourth quarter is one of the best times to jump-start lagging giving. Determine where you need the money the most, which is what the appeal needs to focus on.
- Craft the story behind the “ask.” Every “ask” or appeal must have what I call a driver behind it. In other words, what will drive or motivate me to give you more money? The story is the vision of the appeal. The more compelling the story or vision, the more successful that “ask.”
- Be positive! You might be way behind on giving, but you want your donors to WANT to give, not feel like they MUST give.
- Make the appeal not about reaching some number but advancing the Kingdom. Even if you are working to close out a budget shortfall, make the appeal about doing ministry, not hitting your budget number. Most of your donors don’t care about a number, but they do care about people.
- Make it personal. Churches do a poor job of telling people all the amazing things they do. So, blow your horn, celebrate the year’s wins, and then ask people to help you keep on reaching people! One of the best ways to do that is to share personal stories of life change. Then end by saying, “Your generosity helps make stories like this happen.”
- Focus on one thing, not multiple things. One big mistake I find churches often make is sending multiple messages about what to give to and where. Asking, for one thing, will give you a better chance of success.
The exception is combining all the various things you want end-of-year giving to support into one offering. I have a client that runs a Christmas offering every year but announces the three to four ministry areas the money will be used for. It is one offering working to meet multiple needs.
- Make it easy for them to contribute. The easier you make it for people to give, the more likely they will give. Contact my sponsor, OnlineGiving.org, at (615) 206-4000 or email us at email@example.com.
- Get your tools ready to support your end-of-year appeal. My goal for clients is that by no later than mid-October, we have the need identified and the message or story built out for the call to action.