the shape of leadership

Encouraging Giving Amid the Pandemic

Five ways to cultivate generosity

Chris Colvin on April 29, 2020

Before the pandemic, a large share of church donations happened in person, during a weekly offering time. When congregations switched to digital services, many churches saw a decline in donations.

How do you keep giving at the forefront during this time? Here are five suggestions:

1. Make It Easy

People are not likely to make a change unless it’s an easy one. For those members who are used to dropping a check or money into an offering bucket during a weekend service, switching to a digital giving platform can be a huge step. So make it as easy as possible.

Most banks offer online bill pay, or you could advertise “text to give” or an online option via your website. The technology is safe and convenient, but don’t assume everyone is tech savvy. Walk them through it in a video posted online and streamed during your service.

One great way to make giving easy is to have people set up automatic withdrawals monthly, biweekly or weekly. In fact, giving a fixed amount each week — say, $20 — is a great way to introduce new believers to giving and help them work up to a 10% tithe.

2. Give Them a Reason

Some members of your congregation are likely already giving digitally or by mail. But when services are in person, they may be inclined to contribute extra for a specific need. How will they know about such needs while your church is exclusively streaming?

Give your church something to donate toward. Let them know about a need in their community that you will be meeting directly. Share the details — such as what is needed or how much it costs — and then challenge people to give.

You may be surprised to find that in times of greatest need, your church will rise to the occasion.

You may be surprised to find that in times of greatest need, your church will rise to the occasion. One church I recently spoke with does a monthly grocery drive that usually nets around 600 bags of groceries. In the first month of the pandemic, that number rose to over 1,500. Then, the next month after more was shared about the need, the congregation donated nearly 4,000 bags!

3. Show the Benefits

Be honest with your people about where each dollar goes. There may be a misconception that since you are not meeting in person, the costs are much lower.

Your weekend service may be a good opportunity to share briefly about all the costs associated with church ministry. Show your people what their donations buy in terms of mortgage and utilities on the building, online streaming costs, advertising, and benevolence giving.

Make sure to include salary, and remind your people that all staff members will be paid as they continue to work during the pandemic.

4. Share the Results

Beyond showing where each dollar goes, tell people what the work of ministry accomplishes. Have some people in your church record testimonies of God’s provision in response to their own generosity. Then share those videos each weekend across your social media platforms.

Don’t worry about the production quality of the videos. There is no need to have them come to your office to create them. Instead, simply have them make a recording on a smartphone and upload these to your site. A presentation that’s a little rough around the edges will seem more authentic.

5. Disciple Them in Giving

Remind your members about their responsibility to give to the work of the Kingdom. Generosity is a component of discipleship and community.

Everyone is impacted in some way by this pandemic. Some in your church may be laid off work, while others are receiving a full paycheck. The words of John the Baptist may ring true in today’s context: “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same” (Luke 3:11).

In other words, those who have more than enough have the responsibility to give to those who don’t have enough. That’s the simplest way of explaining the importance of continued giving at this time.

People will be getting back to work, and the church doors will eventually be reopened. In the meantime, the work of the Church will not stop. Giving is a way for every believer to join with you in that work.

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