If you’re trying to increase church giving among your community members, you probably know that there’s a long road ahead of you. Tithes and offerings flow from generous hearts, and hearts don’t always become generous on our desired timetable!
That can make increasing church giving seem like a huge, daunting, even unstartable task. Generosity is a heavy flywheel, and the thought of pushing it to gain momentum can be overwhelming.
That’s why we’ve put together some practical, smaller steps that can move your church giving up over time:
1. Require giving from people in leadership positions at your church
If you want to increase giving in your church, you and your leadership team are the places to start. Do the elders, preachers, deacons, and ministry directors sacrificially give to the church? Do you?
This is an important practical step for three big reasons:
- Your leadership team should be the most bought-in to the church’s vision and mission. One of the signs of their investment is their enthusiastic sharing of their time and resources.
- When it comes to church authority, it’s important to lead by example (1 Cor. 4:16–17). If you want the congregation to give sacrificially, you and the others in authority should be giving sacrificially, too.
- People in your community (including those outside the church) often see church leaders as the primary beneficiaries when it comes to tithes and offerings. This means that when you start encouraging your church to give, someone is going to wonder: “Do you just want more money for yourself?” If you and your leaders are already giving (at least) at the level that you want your members to give, then it sends a message: Everyone should give generously, even those who are receiving some of what others are giving.
How much should you require leaders to give? There’s no golden salary percentage, but it should set a standard of giving for your community.
2. Set giving expectations for church members
Do you want your church members to give more?
Have you told them this?
One thing that I have observed in ministry, business, and personal relationships is that the people who set expectations are more likely to see their expectations met. There’s nothing magical about telling people what you expect: you’re just more likely to realize expectations if others are aware of them.
Maybe it’s time to set church giving expectations for your members. There are a few ways you can do this:
- Hold a series of members meetings and bring up your church giving expectations.
- Thoroughly explain your church giving expectations during your new members course.
- Include your church giving expectations in your membership covenant/agreement.
Will this guarantee that every church member gives ten percent of their income to your church? No, not by a long shot. But it will let everyone know what your expectations are, and the people who want to meet them will know what to aim for.
But will setting expectations come across as greedy or legalistic? Not necessarily. The Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRC) generally sets the expectation for church members to give around five to six percent of their income to the church, and then give more to other organizations and people in need.
The CRC focuses on setting clear expectations while avoiding legalism. Instead of focusing on dollars, they focus on their members’ spiritual development—and it works!
The CRC outpaces much larger Protestant denominations when it comes to income percentages given—each CRC member gives an average of 6.1 percent of their income to their church.
3. Plan a rhythm for speaking about giving in your church
My pastor has remarked that speaking about giving is a tricky thing for him. It’s awkward. It’s hard enough to talk about finances with friends and family—how are you going to bring it up to a group of hundreds or thousands?
What if it comes across as legalistic?
What if it comes across as greedy?
What if there’s a visitor in the audience who’s turned off by what feels like a solicitation?
That awkwardness tends to drive a lot of well-meaning pastors away from talking about giving on Sunday mornings. Unfortunately, that means a lot of well-meaning congregations give less generously than they otherwise would if they were prompted!
But there’s a way around the awkwardness: familiarity.
Think about the first date you ever went on. Were you nervous? I was. But what happened after that? You drummed up the courage to go on another date. And then another. You became familiar with the other person, and eventually you were totally comfortable spending time around them. It wasn’t awkward—it was awesome!
Speaking about church giving is similar. The first time you bring up the subject, it’s awkward. But if you can plan a rhythm for bringing up the topic of giving throughout the year and preaching a few sermons on issues of giving and generosity, the awkwardness wears off. (For both you and your church!)
4. Put a giving opportunity on your church website
The digital side of giving isn’t confined to in-person Sunday morning offering sessions. If someone should feel moved to give during the week, the first place many will think to look is your website.
So the question is: Can they give on your church website?
If not, a practical next step is to get an online giving form on your church website as soon as you can. (We can help you with that.)
5. Use a mobile church giving tool for tithes and offerings
If your primary means of collecting funds involves passing a physical plate in hopes of people dropping in physical checks and cash, you’re missing out. Digital giving is on the rise, and fewer and fewer people carry checkbooks or cash with them.
But guess what they do carry to church? Smartphones.
That means that, without a mobile giving solution, you may be at a giving impasse: your congregation members would gladly give, but they’re not prepared to give via non-mobile methods.
There are many factors to consider when choosing a digital giving software for your church, but here are a few important features a good mobile church giving solution will include:
- Giving via text.
- Giving via a mobile app.
You can learn more about our approach to meeting these needs here.
6. Make your online giving form easy to find and use
If you already have a giving onramp on your website, terrific! But it probably wouldn’t hurt to do a quick check to see if you can make it even easier for your congregation to find and use.
For example, make your church giving tool easy to find from the homepage. When your congregants go to your church website to give, they are probably going to get to your website using one of two ways:
- They’ll Google your church name, and then click to your home page.
- They’ll type your website’s URL (e.g., “http://redeemernw.org/”) into their browser and arrive at your homepage.
Either way, most of the people heading to your website are going to land on your homepage—you need to make sure that the people who want to give can easily find the place where they can give.
A good way to do this is to add a “Give” option to your header navigation. (Saddleback Church sets a great example.)
Of course, making it easy to find is only one way to optimize your Web giving experience.
You can also increase church giving by making your online giving process as simple as possible. Trim down the amount of pages that someone needs to click through in order to give. Keep the number of fields on your giving form to a minimum, as longer forms are more likely to be abandoned. Make sure the forms are mobile-friendly (in case people are using your website from a smartphone). And of course, make the steps of the giving process very clear for first-time givers.
7. Publicly praise faithful church givers
We praise church members who go on to plant churches.
We praise church members who leave to serve in overseas missions.
We praise church members who serve in the nursery.
We praise church members for having children (think Mother’s Day!).
But we don’t often publicly thank and praise those who consistently give to the church. Why not?
Besides the power of positive reinforcement, there is some biblical precedent for praising those who give. A man named Levi was so generous that the church nicknamed him “the son of encouragement”—we know him as Barnabas (Acts 4:36).
8. Respond to church giving with a “thank you”
Again, positive reinforcement is a powerful thing. If you want people to give regularly and abundantly, one way you can motivate them is to simply say “thank you” when they give to you.
There are all kinds of ways you can do this, depending on how you’re tracking your church’s giving:
- Send a follow-up email thanking people who give online.
- Send a thank-you text to people who gave by text.
- Send a handwritten thank-you note to those who gave (who doesn’t love handwritten notes?!).
- When people give by completing a form on your website or mobile app, make sure they see a thank-you message on the screen after they’ve submitted their donation.
- Add a thank-you message to your end-of-year giving statements.
- Add a thank-you section to your church members on any public financial reports.
9. Give people space to share their church giving stories
People respond to stories of those who have gone before.
If you really want to increase giving, find the stories in your church about those who have given (even when it was hard). Find the stories of how God has rewarded generous givers in your church. Find the stories of those who were helped and encouraged by the generosity of others.
And then give the people with these stories an opportunity to share them with your church.
10. Rewrite your church vision statement
Why is your local church doing ministry where your church is doing ministry?
What are you trying to accomplish this year? What do you want to accomplish this decade?
Your church vision statement is how you communicate the particular passion your church has when it comes to reaching your community (both local and global) with the message of Jesus Christ. And it can be a huge motivator when it comes to church giving.
As we discussed earlier in this post, people like to know where their donations are going. But even more importantly, they want to know why their donations matter. They want to know what their donations are being used to accomplish. What’s the vision? What’s the end game?
One way to raise church giving is to assess your vision statement. You want a vision so big, so inspiring that anyone who reads it knows that you won’t be able to accomplish it without financial help. And that can be a huge motivator for giving.
11. Offer financial classes for your congregants
People need two ingredients if they’re going to give to your church (or anyone, really):
- Motivation to give.
- Something to give.
What we’ve talked about thus far is concerned with that first ingredient: upping people’s motivations to give (or at least removing barriers to giving). This is where a lot of churches tend to focus when they’re trying to increase tithes and offerings, too.
But what if you didn’t just influence your congregation’s motivation to give? What if you could also help them have more money to give in the first place?
Unfortunately, not everyone in your congregation has a solid understanding of how to handle their finances. One thing that stands in the way of congregations giving the way they’re called to is unorganized finances (which often looks like crippling debt).
And when people don’t have money, they can’t give money.
This is why one way to increase giving at your church is to train your people to manage their finances. If your congregation can free themselves from debt and plan a solid budget, then they won’t feel so insecure about being more generous.
Some classes you might consider offering at your church:
- How to get out of credit card debt.
- How to get out of student debt.
- How to balance a budget.
- How to save for your future.
12. Define words like “tithe” and “offering” in your church
You already know that the tithe hearkens back to the Old Testament practice of giving ten percent of one’s income to God—specifically for celebrating God’s blessings, providing for the priests, and providing for the community.
However, there’s a good deal of discussion (possibly in your congregation) about whether or not the ten percent rule applies to Christians today. After all, we’re free from the law of Moses (Rom. 8:3–4, or all of Romans and Galatians for that matter). But God also loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor. 9:7), and like we mentioned earlier, the early church apostles were vocally supportive of giving. (By the way, the “cheerful giver” passage is about raising funds for churches in another city—so that’s above and beyond any contribution for the particular local church Paul was writing to.)
This is why it can be helpful for your church to distinguish between tithes and offerings. Do you expect members to donate ten percent of their income? Do you expect them to give as they feel led? Do you set ten percent as a target, and encourage people to become more generous as they become more like Jesus?
And then there’s another question to tackle: If you’re aiming for a certain percentage of income, then what is that a percentage of, exactly? Pre-tax? Post-tax? Post-debt? These are questions that are going through people’s minds as they consider giving. Being prepared to answer them may mean the difference between generosity and confusion.
Pro-tip: Here’s a list of Bible verses on tithing you may want to share with your congregation if you want them to have an understanding of what the Bible says on the matter.
13. Make a donation live from the stage
If you’re using a mobile giving solution like echurch, one way you can get more people to give is to take a moment on Sunday to show people how to use the tool. The pastor, worship leader, or even the chap doing announcements can demonstrate how easy it is to give to your church by doing a live demo of the giving solution from the stage.
Will that take too much time? If you have a good mobile giving solution, not at all. (For example, echurch lets church members give in as little as five seconds!) Plus, you’ll alleviate the fear that it will be too complicated for your congregation to install, set up, and figure out during a worshipful moment in service.
Aside: you can use this as an example of how it’s okay to use your smartphone in church!
14. Start church givers at a specific amount
You’ve probably felt a little bit of tension when it comes to handling the subject of new converts and giving.
Young Christians feel this tension, too. They want to be involved in the church, but they don’t know the Bible well enough to teach children’s church, they aren’t worship band material, and they don’t have time to mow the lawn. For many new converts giving is the easiest, quickest way that they can serve their new church family. But taking a ten percent pay cut might not be something they’re ready to do.
So, you can start with a specific dollar amount. It can be anything: even as little as $5 every week. (You can tell them they’re covering a pot of coffee!) The idea is to make it as simple as possible for new believers to begin giving faithfully—even if it’s just a little bit.
15. Make all your church giving options clear and available
Does your church know all the ways they can give, or do they think they’re restricted to bringing cash or a check to drop in the plate?
You may have implemented high-tech mobile and online giving tools, but if your church doesn’t know about them, then you have a tree-falling-in-the-forest-with-nobody-around situation. Here are a few ways to make all your giving avenues known to your church:
- Mention your church mobile giving app in your pre-service and post-service presentation slides.
- Include your list of giving avenues when you discuss giving expectations in your church membership classes.
- Mention your digital giving options in your church bulletin.
- If you use a giving kiosk (such as an iPad stand for collecting tithes and offerings), put it in an easy-to-see place in your church lobby, and make sure the signage clearly explains how to use it. (It can even help to have someone standing by the kiosk at high-volume times to explain how it’s used.)
16. Tie church giving to your liturgy
Many of your church members are showing up on Sunday morning to hear a sermon, meet with friends, sing worship songs, and remember Jesus’ sacrifice by taking Communion. Not many of them are coming to church specifically to give.
That means the giving session of your services may feel disconnected from the rest of your liturgy—which might make it feel jarring for churchgoers.
You can overcome this by tying other elements of your service to the giving portion of your service. For example:
- You could include generous giving as a response to the sermon.
- Your worship leader could include songs of thankfulness in the worship set, and connect the lyrics to the spiritual discipline of giving.
- You could tie the Lord’s Supper to the act of giving: we give generously because Jesus gave generously.
- And of course, you can include notes about how the church is doing financially during announcements.
17. Align every church giving method with your visual identity
Your churchgoers want to give to your church. That means every giving method they have should make it very clear that their money is going to you.
There are many ways you can do this, including:
- Putting your church name and logo on your offering envelopes.
- Integrating your digital giving tools with your church management software system.
- Putting your online giving form on your church’s website (or if your giving forms are hosted on another domain, make sure your church’s name is in the web address for the giving page).
- Put your church’s logo, name, and colors on your online giving form.
Unity between church giving and church branding is important to givers and churches—so important that at least one church member built a custom giving app to keep his church’s branding on their giving tool. (You can do this for your own church through the echurch app, by the way.)
18. Hire a designer and/or videographer for your annual church giving reports
High-end branding agencies put a lot of thought and effort into creating top-notch visual presentations for their clients. It’s a way of communicating to them what’s happening in their creative process, which signals that the client is using their budget wisely.
What if you did the same with your church? When you show your church what the church has done with their donations, what do they see? Is it easy to understand what God has accomplished through their generosity? If so, your annual reports could be a huge motivation tool for increasing church giving.
One way to do this is to hire a professional designer, or see if a designer in your congregation would be willing to donate her talents to turn your report into a presentation. Hiring a designer has been a smart move for churches who want to grow and reach their communities. In fact, it’s something Justin Davis from Hope City Church did to communicate a dedication to quality to the people he wanted to reach.
19. Be transparent about how church giving funds are used
People generally prefer clarity over mystery when it comes to their money. That’s why one way to increase church giving is to show your congregation where their dollars are going.
There are a few ways you could do this:
- You could verbally tell people how funds are being spent from time to time on Sunday mornings. This could be as simple as mentioning what percentage of church funds are dedicated to things like church staff, overhead, and aid.
- When you post your financial report online, you could email your church body to let them know the latest report is available.
- If you want to get really transparent, put together a church spending dashboard! If you use Stripe for processing giving, then a tool like Baremetrics can help you visualize where your money is coming from, where it’s going, and just how much of it is moving through your church. (Here’s an example of what that can look like.)
But transparency doesn’t need to be as formal as this. It could be as simple as taking a photo of new toys you bought for your nursery and sharing that in your announcements on Sunday—and thanking your church for their generosity.
20. Don’t only ask for money when you’re in financial need
Most of these tactics focus on things that you can add to what you do, but we should also touch on something that you should refrain from doing: only asking for money when you’re in need.
At first glance, this might sound weird. Why would you ask for money that you don’t need?
Because Christian giving is as much about the giver as it is about the recipient. We shouldn’t be teaching our churches to donate simply because we need the donations. We should be teaching our churches to give because God loves cheerful givers.
We should be teaching our churches to give because we want them to grow more obedient and faithful to God—not just because we’re short on cash.
How does this help increase church giving, though? It helps because when a church is disciplined enough to give regularly, it doesn’t take a crisis or large-scale project to get people to start giving. They give cheerfully anyway!
Over to You
These are just 20 practical ways to start increasing church giving right away, but there are plenty more that have worked for churches in the past.
What about yours? How have you increased church giving among your congregation? I would love to hear your ideas in the comments!