How powerful is gratitude when it comes to being fully funded at your church? Consider this stunning statistic,
“Research has shown that first-time donors who receive a personal thank-you within 48 hours are four times more likely to give again. Yes, thanking in 48 hours equals a 400 percent improvement in renewal rates.”1.
Successful giving churches have a yearlong gratitude strategy, do you? Here are a few ideas of times and groups you should thank. Spend time thanking…
- First-time donors. Saying thanks will help them see that you value them and that their gift is not simply lost among all the others.
- First-time online donors. My goal is to drive more giving online and thus increase giving. Recognizing first-time givers and saying thank you lets you highlight recurring giving.
- Top-end donors. I advise that periodically throughout the year, you should write cards to your top and consistent donors that simply say thanks.
- All donors in every giving statement sent out. I advise quarterly statements and that each statement contain a letter or card expressing thanks.
- For online gifts, consider personalizing your automated receipts that are sent. Here is what Stephen Ballard, a co-founder of OnlineGiving.org, suggested in a recent call, “We find that 75% to 80% of our email receipts, sent within seconds of someone’s gift to your church, get opened. The reason is that people want to ensure that their contribution went through correctly. We make that email receipt process easy and automated for you. And, using our system, you can edit and update that email to communicate other things since 75% to 80% of your members are going to open it up and read it.” Use these to say thank you and show them what their gift accomplished. This will generate more gifts! To find out more about how this works, see this post: https://www.onlinegiving.org/support/dont-just-send-receipts-tell-a-story
Here is another idea that will help you establish a culture of generosity – express thanks during the offering time. I recommend that, on a regular basis, you express your thanks to your donors. Let them know that their gift matters and that it matters to you. Say, thank you!
Does gratitude really work? Let me give you a real-life example. A few years ago, a pastor wrote me the following. “I send a thank you card to every first-time giver every week. Got this note and thought I’d share it with you.”
“WOW! Everything about your church continually blows me away and exceeds all of my expectations! I never, in a million years, would have ever expected a hand-written, personalized thank you note from the pastor of a church (especially one as large as your church) for my gift. You are a class act through & through, and I feel so incredibly blessed to be a part of your church family! Thank you, and may God bless you for the gifts you bestow upon our hearts & souls every week!”
A couple of things I want you to realize with this example. First, this came from a pastor of a multi-campus church running around 1,500. If he can take the time to personally write to first-time donors, what is your excuse? Secondly, this and other hard work allowed this church to increase giving that year by 32%! Finally, do you not think that the woman who wrote this note is primed for another “ask?” Of course, she is!
“Do you want to see how non-profits treat their donors?” That was my wife’s question one January as she showed me the personalized thank you she had received from a secular non-profit. My first question was, “How much money did you send them!” It turns out it was not that much, but it showed me how non-profits valued their donors and how we in the church need to value them.
Make it your goal to have a gratitude strategy that leads to a culture of gratitude at your church. It may take time and effort, but it will be worth it.