I have learned a few things over twenty years of helping churches increase giving. I call these my Brooks mantras. One of my mantras says, Get a plan and work your plan to achieve the goal of being fully funded. I preach this all the time, and the lack of planning is the biggest reason churches fail to increase in giving. Why? Because if you fail to plan, you are planning on failure!
As we focus on end-of-year giving and the start of the New Year, what are your plans for establishing a culture of generosity? Did you have to say, what plan? Did you have to struggle to think of whether you have a plan or not? Sadly, you are in good company as few churches have a strategic plan for increasing giving and givers. Once again, you need to get a plan and work your plan!
My approach to stewardship planning revolves around the calendar, and yours should too. I break stewardship planning first into the four quarters of the year. When I do extensive work with a church, that is how we approach our planning. Here are the basic steps we go through.
First, we review and analyze where we are financially and what was accomplished in the last quarter. What worked and did not work? What resonated best with the members? Good planning always takes into consideration how past planning has gone.
Next, we think through all the various mission and ministry initiatives in the next quarter. What are they? What is the focus or story of each one? How can we best highlight that initiative? What offering times can we use to place a focus on that ministry or mission endeavor? We think through social media, platform appeals, and direct appeals through snail mail and email. In short, we get a plan and then establish who is responsible for that plan and how it will work out.
Next, I keep my eye on special seasons and times of the year. For instance, as we approach the end of the year, I am helping churches build strategies to maximize this time of the year by building a plan of action to increase end-of-year giving. Here is a list of special times of the year that you might consider a special offering…
- End-of-year giving – Your plan should start before Thanksgiving.
- Automatic withdrawal pushes – January is a great time to suggest this as people analyze their year. Also, May is another great time as people head into summer.
- Easter offering – You know you will have great attendance and engagement. Learn how to make the “ask” that even guests will willingly give to.
- Summer giving strategy – Since summer is the most challenging time for giving, it is essential to have a plan to offset this.
- Late Summer Come From Behind Strategy – Using Labor Day weekend, I help churches build a strategy to make up lost giving ground, giving us momentum into the end-of-year planning.
Thinking and planning seasonally helps you keep stewardship fresh, bringing results. The seasonal times listed above should be combined with other calendar events in your church.
Right now, for the next few weeks, churches should be focused on their end-of-year strategy. At the same time, they should have an eye on the start of the New Year. One season, the end of the year, gives us a great opportunity to capitalize on people’s generosity at Christmas. The other season, the New Year, is a challenge as January is one of the lowest-giving months on the calendar. By having a plan for each of these seasons, you can see an increase in giving and givers.
Each week through the Stewardship Journal, we aim to help you think through each season in the life of your church. We encourage you to read the Journal and share it with your staff and finance team. We promise to keep you focused and on track. If you lack a stewardship plan, then you can use ours! We exist to help pastors and church leaders build a culture of generosity founded upon biblical stewardship.
For more about my seasonal plans, visit my site at: https://acts17generosity.com/store/.
As we approach the end of 2022 and the start of 2023, it’s time to get a plan, a stewardship plan, and work that plan! We are here to help.