How to Leverage Year-End Giving Statements to Grow Generosity

December 1, 2013 — 7 Comments

Pastor, in about 4 weeks you will be presented with a strategic opportunity to grow generosity in your church…

 …but most churches squander this opportunity.

Feel free to use this image just link to www.rentvine.comphoto credit: Dave Dugdale via photopin cc

Churches are required by law to mail year-end giving statements by January 15th. Most view year-end giving statements as nothing more than an event required by the IRS.

Wrong!

Year-end giving statements represent an opportunity to CAST COMPELLING VISION and GROW generosity in your church.

Successful year-end giving statements should include 4 things:

  1. A Letter From the Lead Pastor.

    Think of this as a “Year in Review” letter.

    Celebrate the wins of your church over the previous 12 months. This should include salvations, baptisms, stories of life-change, and other missions projects that your church has been a part of.

    Focus on 2 main things: 1) Update your congregation of what is happening because of their generosity; 2) Challenge them to remain faithful in their giving over the coming 12 months.

    As a bonus, use a P.S. at the end of the letter for a “Call to Action.” A great idea is to include a link to your church’s online giving page.

    People always read (and many times respond) to the P.S.

    Here are the year-end giving statements my church used in 2011 and in 2012.

  2. A Personalized Giving Statement.

    This is the actual statement required by the IRS.

    Show people what they’ve given over the previous 12 months.

    I’m a fan of showing itemized donations, as opposed to a lump sum amount, for 2 reasons:

    • One, it adds transparency and allows your givers to “check” behind you (after all, mistakes are sometimes made).
    • Two, it allows your givers to see periods throughout the year where their giving was down (many people will want to get “caught up”).
  3. A Postage-Paid Return Envelope.

    Including a post-paid giving envelope can’t be overstated. If you create simple avenues for your congregation to give, they will.

    You’ll be amazed at the checks that will roll in throughout January because of this one simple act.

  4. A “Ways to Give” Insert.

    Are your people educated on all the ways that they can give to your church?

    Probably not as much as you’d think. Remind them often.

    My church includes a “4 Ways to Give to Northpark Church” insert with each of our quarterly giving statements. This teaches people that they can give throughout the week, not just during the offering on Sunday.

    The more you can move people towards automated and recurring giving, the more fully funded your church will be.

    Click here for a simple example of a “Ways to Give” insert that your church can modify and use.

  5. ***BONUS*** Send a “Gift of Appreciation.”

    This one does require money upfront…but it will pay HUGE dividends for your church.

    Two years ago Northpark Church gave copies of “The Blessed Life” with each year-end giving statement. The cost upfront was roughly $1,100. But the following year our budget grew almost 30%.

    This is an investment that I highly recommend. This book also makes a great gift for all first-time givers.

    Sow. Then Reap.

    Show your people that you want something for them, not simply something from them.

    If you’re interested in my contact for purchasing “The Blessed Life” in bulk, click here.

Here’s some additional tips to make your church’s year-end giving statements a success.

  • Make the envelopes exciting.

    Standard white mailing envelopes are boring. Choose an envelope that stands out. Loud, colorful, and bulky envelopes work best. Get your people excited before they even open the mail.

  • Mail them as soon as possible.

    Send out your year-end giving statements as soon as possible. Many people are eager to complete their tax returns. Oblige them.

  • Consider a “Ride-Along” insert.

    Year-end giving statements are a perfect opportunity to tease an upcoming series. Communicate this to your congregation and challenge them to make every effort to attend.

  • Be prayerful.

    Winning with generosity always happens after you win with prayer. Always be prayerful–even with your year-end giving statements.

Pastor, year-end giving statements represent an excellent opportunity to cast vision, celebrate what God is doing through your church, and launch strong into the upcoming year.

Be strategic and watch your funds grow throughout the coming 12 months.

QUESTIONS: How can you make this year’s year-end giving statements stand-out?

What “wins” from the last 12 months can you celebrate with your church?

What’s holding you back from following the steps included in this article?

  • Charles Church

    This is incredible information Larry! None of the churches that I have attended offerend anything near the clarity and appreciation that your article gives towards the giver!
    As a weekly giver I would love to have a “Year End Review” of what the church has accomplished through it’s giving! Great ideas… Keep them coming!!
    Continue to be blessed.

    • http://www.larrypoolespeaks.com/ Larry Poole

      Thanks for your encouragement Charles! Year-End Giving Statements coupled with a Year-In-Review letter are one of the best ways that a church contain maintain forward momentum.

      People will forget what you tell them, but they’ll never forget what you give them.

  • Cathy Hayes Norton

    No church that I have ever attended has done any of the above, but they should. No wonder you graduated # 1 from the Citadel; you are one intelligent young man!!!

    • http://www.larrypoolespeaks.com/ Larry Poole

      I love you Aunt Cathy. Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

  • http://tcavey.blogspot.com/ TCAvey

    Very good tips- I’d love to be in a church that did some (or all) of this.

    • http://www.larrypoolespeaks.com/ Larry Poole

      Hey @TCAvey, I love it when you stop by.

      These are all things that have helped us grow financially as a church. I’d be more than happy to discuss with your pastor.

      Serving pastors is what gets me most excited :-)

      • http://tcavey.blogspot.com/ TCAvey

        Thanks for your kind words, Larry. I enjoy reading your fresh take and passion.
        I’d love you to talk to my pastor as well…all I can do is pass on the info and let God do the talking :)