A phrase is being whispered in both religious and secular nonprofit circles: donor fatigue. The reality is that those willing to give to worthy causes are often hit by back-to-back appeals for capital campaigns in their church — and by the local museum, homeless shelter and educational charity. Donors can become overwhelmed with the constant requests as well as unending appeals for special, over-and-above giving.
Though your church may require additional funds to accomplish an exciting project, refurbish an existing building or build a new one, you may not need the traditional campaign that may worsen donor fatigue. Instead of calling a consultant and ramping up for another capital campaign, here are five different avenues that might raise what you need.
1. Have a special giving Sunday
Instead of asking people for a three-year commitment, you are likely to have incredible success by having a single offering for your new project. This is not something you announce on a whim. You must make certain you communicate thoroughly both the vision for the funds and the unique, nontraditional, single-offering approach. By positioning this single offering as a solution to fatigue with back-to-back campaigns — as well as giving a compelling reason for the offering — you will win points with church members.
2. Apply for grants
A lot of money for capital expenses is available to churches who are willing to apply to grant makers. Rethink Church offers grants to congregations to assist with everything from digital advertising to new church starts. If your building is historic, the National Trust has money available for repair and restoration. The United Methodist Church also has funds for many types of projects, including building repair, listed on the grants page of the General Board of Church and Society website. Regional grantmakers like the Duke Endowment focus on specific regions and types of concerns. Even closer to your church, a couple of phone calls to local banks may reveal trusts administered by the banks in your city or a local community foundation for causes like yours.
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3. Ask for an extra $50
It might be easier (and more successful) to focus on a large number of diverse people who give smaller amounts than to focus on the few who can donate the most. Ask for something specific and reasonable for your congregation. For example, if you can get 100 people in the congregation to give an extra $50 a month, you will have an extra $60,000 a year later. To help people do that, you might try some digital solutions to increase giving like allowing them to make automated recurring payments.
4. Invite people to remember your church in their estate planning
Educating your parishioners about Christian estate planning not only supports their personal discipleship, but it also can “serve as an integral revenue source to fund mission and ministry,” says the Rev. David S. Bell, former director of stewardship with Discipleship Ministries. The United Methodist Church has several estate planning resources to help in this area of financial discipleship.
5. Have a mission campaign
Churchgoers can be turned off by feeling that the church is “always asking for money.” What they often mean is that the church is always asking for money for itself. What would happen if you had a giving campaign entirely for someone else? Select a single ministry, or spend time helping congregants find the right mission opportunity to support. Direct them to the second-mile giving portal for The Advance where they can search for local and global projects.
Once you equip and empower people to become more generous givers, you transform their habits and walk with them down the road of financial discipleship. Once they understand the power of giving and God’s call to give, your church will reap the benefits of being filled with people who are excited to give.
Whether you are experiencing a case of donor fatigue or are just trying to find a creative way to enable people to give toward a God-sized vision, these ideas will help you teach your people how to grow the kingdom of God.
When Jeremy and his wife are not playing with their four children, he oversees youth and college ministries and leads the evening worship service at Christ UMC in Mobile, Al. Jeremy is an author of several books and resources that you can find at JeremyWords.com or follow him on Twitter!