Money can be a touchy subject, especially when we start talking about how churches can increase donations. People often fear the stereotype of the church that "always" is begging for money.
However, the reality is that people want to give to your church and God calls them to do so. That means that any reasonable effort to help them give is the role of any faithful congregation. Here are a couple ways to increase giving without feeling like a pitch-person.
1. Bring your giving into the present
There has been a massive shift over the past several years in how we make financial transactions. According to one study, the vast majority (about 70 percent) of transactions happen electronically.
Adding electronic payment to your church service doesn't require you to add a credit card kiosk to your offering plate. With the advent of smart phones, texting payments and other solutions, people only need a cellphone in order to give electronically. You can find many services available to help your church walk down this new road. Some even offer a rebate of all fees if your giving doesn't increase 5 percent in the first year.
To that end, the General Council on Finance and Administration has collaborated with an industry leader to provide UM EFT for churches.
2. Make recurring contributions easy
Many people prefer to automate the important things in their life. They use different systems to make sure their mortgage payment is sent automatically and their water bill is deducted on the due date. Many people even use their bank's system to make these payments.
That means that, at the very least, you should have an "automated contributions" page on your website with instructions on how people should designate their contributions using their bank's automated-payment settings.
If you want to take it to the next level, you can sign up for a system that will allow members to schedule those contributions using their debit card without ever having to leave your website. This feature is often an option with the type of companies we mentioned previously.
3. UMC Market
This online tool allows your church members to make money for your church while they do their normal shopping online. You may not know it, but most online retailers (like Amazon) have a 2-5% associates' fee they will pay to people who refer customers to their site. It is not added to the purchase, but taken out of the company's profit.
UMC Market takes that percentage and gives it back to your church. All members have to do is sign up for the service and designate your church as the organization who receives their "donations." Then you will start getting checks in the mail for a percentage of all the purchases your members make through the UMC Market portal without costing your members a penny.
4. Start a Christian financial counseling ministry
Many people's finances are so tight that they cannot see a way to give to the church. Though the goal of ministries like these is not to increase giving, they do help people find financial stability and freedom so that they are able to discover the joy of giving to the cause of Christ. You might start by researching other United Methodist churches that offer this type of ministry. Call them and ask for advice. Search Google using the term "United Methodist financial counseling," and you will find several results worth looking into. Substitute "ministry" or "service" for "counseling" to find even more.
5. Help businesses give
Many churches look only to their members and attendees as those who are interested in supporting the mission and ministry of their congregation and miss a whole category of contributions. Often times, local businesses are more than willing to partner financially in what the church is doing. Here are a couple ideas to get your brainstorming started:
- Sunday lunch — Many restaurants will share a portion of customer's bills as a fundraiser for an organization. Consider having a first Sunday lunch location where members can give back by going to lunch after church.
- Event sponsors — Many local businesses love to partner on events like fall festivals and Easter family events. Next time, ask local businesses to sponsor a specific game or area.
- Business directory — Your members would love to support businesses who support your church. Create a sponsored business directory that fills that desire and helps your local businesses partner with your ministry.
You don't have to turn your church service into some sort of religious infomercial. With a couple of simple updates, you can help enable your parishioners to do what they already want to do: give generously to the work of God.