What's in this session?

  • #1. End-of-year giving is considerable (00:50)
  • #2. Don’t simply rely on your church’s willingness to give (1:35)
  • #3. Focus on the big four end-of-year dates (4:00)
  • #4. Inspire giving with campaigns (4:55)
  • #5. Setup custom giving trigger links for the easiest giving experience (9:35)
  • #6. Put a card on the homepage (13:35)
  • #7. Go all-in on the final three days (15:00)

Show notes and resources

Free Bonus: Click here to download The Ultimate Church Connect Card Template – a fully customizable connect card template for really works

The Transcript

Alex Mills: Because of Christmas bonuses, tax deadlines, and general holiday generosity, a huge portion of church giving comes in the final months of each year, but just because folks are willing to give doesn’t mean they’ll automatically follow through. It’s still incumbent upon your church to provide every opportunity for generosity and to inspire your church toward these next steps. So follow along. By the end of this episode, you’ll have a framework that your church can follow to maximize your end giving. Well, hey there and welcome to Pro Church Tools, the show to help you share the message of Jesus while we navigate the biggest communication shift in 500 years. I’m your host, Alex Mills joined as always by Brady Shearer.

Not sure if every church, every church leader realizes this, because if you’re not involved in the finances of your church, you may not be, but end of year giving is very, very considerable. Couple of different data points, a big chunk of church donations received at the end of the year, depending on which statistics that you’re going to trust us. Some say 30% in the final three months.

Brady Shearer: Wow.

Alex Mills: Another one I found said 31% in December alone. Another said 10% on just the last three days of the year.

Brady Shearer: Wow.

Alex Mills: And the disparity between those three different statistics makes me untrustworthy in any of them.

Brady Shearer: Okay.

Alex Mills: But what we know for sure is a ton of giving happens at the end of the year …

Brady Shearer: Sure.

Alex Mills: Disproportionate to the rest of the year. And maybe every single church is unique, so maybe your church is more like that 10% on the final three days. Maybe you’re like that third just in December, but knowing this, I think there’s the … A lot that our churches can do to maximize these opportunities, because what’s important to understand is just because your church is willing to give, because of a number of different reasons we’ll get to in a second, doesn’t mean that they’re actually going to follow through.

Brady Shearer: Right.

Alex Mills: Your church still needs to take the steps to give them every opportunity possible, because we see this all the time. Just because someone’s willing doesn’t mean they’re going to do it automatically. Look, we hear that truth all the time. People are willing to come to church if you would just invite them.

Brady Shearer: Right.

Alex Mills: Just because they’re willing to do something doesn’t mean they’ll do it unless you also take a step. So this is kind of like a two party system. You need someone to have some willingness, but you also need your church to take the steps needed.

Brady Shearer: Sure. And there are a number of reasons why this end of year giving kind of spikes as we see in these conglomerate of data points, but you know, there’s a tax deduction incentive. You know the end of the year is coming so maybe you want to give a little more to get that tax return in the new year. There’s Christmas inspired generosity. People are like, hey, it’s the holidays. I just want to be a little more generous with what I have. Or maybe you got a bonus from your workplace …

Alex Mills: That’s true.

Brady Shearer: And you have a little more, so you have a little more to give. And so all of these things are often true, but like you said, if we don’t explicitly give people an opportunity to lean in to that end of year giving, maybe it’ll happen organically a little bit, but I think there’s a big opportunity here for our churches to engage people in the act of giving or maybe even taking a step of faith and maybe just hearing, maybe I get that work bonus and I think, ah, should I tithe off this? I think, ah no, I’m good. And then I hear an opportunity at church and I’m reminded, you know what? I probably should give some of this bonus and now I’ve given, because I was presented that opportunity.

Alex Mills: Think of it like Black Friday. So Black Friday comes every single year and we are all ready to buy. We are ready to spend. And companies know this, so they create an opportunity, really an irresistible opportunity for us to spend by offering us the best deals that they offer throughout the year. If you as a company didn’t do any type of sales, you still might see a spike, because we as consumers are willing and ready to spend. But if you couple that willingness with preparation and a bunch of reasons to spend, that’s when you get the true huge spikes in sales. So let’s provide a framework, because it will be very different from sales on Black Friday. Let’s provide a framework for maximizing and boosting your year end giving this year. The first thing is to focus on the big four end of year dates. Those four are Thanksgiving in America, because it’s at the end of November, not in October, like Canadian Thanksgiving, our Thanksgiving. So Thanksgiving …

Brady Shearer: The Lord’s Thanksgiving.

Alex Mills: Giving Tuesday, which is the day following Cyber Monday. We’ve been spending too much, we’re very guilty and we need to give back.

Brady Shearer: Amazing.

Alex Mills: Christmas, and then the final three days of the year. That trio of days where all the procrastinators end up finally taking this step because they absolutely need to because otherwise the CRA, IRS or insert your three digit acronym in your country will come after you and not allow you to give and have it as a tax deduction.

Brady Shearer: They’re sitting in a Christmas food coma and they’re feeling a little bit guilty like, I should have given more of this year, but I still got a day.

Alex Mills: And you can use that guilt for good. Inspire giving with campaigns. So, we’re focusing on the four dates. Instead of just a constant barrage every single week of mentioning it, I would do these sprints based around these four times.

Brady Shearer: Okay.

Alex Mills: So Thanksgiving, people are already practicing gratitude. Hopefully Giving Tuesday, which is a day that we’ve created just for giving. Christmas of course. And then the final three days of the the year. Really focus your efforts there. Now, what efforts should you focus? Well, there’s a number of different things that you can do. One that we love is using campaigns. So these are giving efforts that are centered around a specific thing. And the reason that these work is when we as donors can imagine where our money is going towards, it makes us a lot more willing to give, because it doesn’t just feel like we’re throwing money at this thing that we don’t get anything from.

Brady Shearer: Right.

Alex Mills: It’s like we get to partner with you for a mission. When there’s a mission, when there’s a story, when there’s a reason for something, obviously people are much more willing to do it. So, came up with a couple of ideas. One would be the bonus give back challenge.

Brady Shearer: Okay.

Alex Mills: So this could be for anyone that gets a Christmas bonus. We know not everyone does and you’d want to mention that so people don’t feel left out, but you could do this as an annual thing, but hey, we do this every year. It’s called the Christmas bonus give back challenge. Normally we talk about giving 10% of what we earn to kingdom efforts, but with your bonus, we want to challenge you to give 25%. and this year that 25% is going directly towards X, Y, and Z. And you can do that as an annual thing and it’s just a little bit above and beyond. People are getting that money that isn’t part of their normal budget likely, but now they feel like, okay, it’s a bit extra. It might hurt to give 25% normally, but I feel like we might be able to do this with a Christmas bonus.

Brady Shearer: Yeah. And it’s okay to ask for that. To propose it that way, because I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard testimonies from people when we’ve talked about giving, saying, hey, I really want to thank you for challenging us as a body of believers, because that step of faith, that challenge … When I chose to give according to that challenge was a step of faith for me. It stretched me in my walk with Jesus and here’s the fruit. Here’s what I learned from that. So sometimes people need that kind of challenge to say, how about instead of giving 10% of your Christmas bonus, give 25, right? And that’s going to be interpreted as a step of faith for someone, and that could really … That could change somebody’s life, nevermind the lives are going to change with that money that your church receives.

Alex Mills: So that’s the campaign that you could run around Christmas. For Thanksgiving and Giving Tuesday, we’d recommend story based campaigns, where you basically take moments to illustrate how giving in your church in the past has led to material differences in the lives of those who need it most. And we’ve seen churches do this to great results. Don’t talk about how the money went to paying the electricity bill.

Brady Shearer: Right.

Alex Mills: While necessary, absolutely necessary, isn’t exactly inspiring for those that are giving. But if you can talk about how giving went towards your benevolence fund that allowed to distribute groceries, or in this case, let’s say Thanksgiving turkeys to those who otherwise couldn’t afford it, and you were able to allow 24 different families to host their own Thanksgiving meals where otherwise they couldn’t have spent on that themselves, that means something. And you can talk about, hey, we’ve gotten another Turkey date coming up real soon and if you give towards this, we’re going to do this again around Christmas.

Brady Shearer: You could do that around Thanksgiving or Giving Tuesday and then when it comes to those final three days of the year, a tax deduction focus is what you’re going to want to do. People are procrastinating and you need to let them know, this will not work for your taxes unless you give before midnight tonight. And I would send an email …

Alex Mills: It’s perfect for an email.

Brady Shearer: On the 29th and the 30th and the 31st. Give plenty of reminders. It’s the holiday season. People are traveling, they’re not checking their email as much. You want to make sure they don’t miss it, because I’m pretty sure every year someone says, can I still do this? Can I still get … Like, I don’t know. Look at the date.

Alex Mills: No.

Brady Shearer: Is it 2019?

Alex Mills: It doesn’t change. Is it 2020? Then no, you’re done.

Brady Shearer: We don’t set these rules. The Mayans do on the … Like, it’s the calendar. I know.

Alex Mills: Final campaign that you can do, raising money for a certain need in the church. So, you could have let’s say a desire to get a new sound system and instead of just saying, hey, give extra around Christmas, you can tie that giving to a specific need that people will see in the new year when you buy the new sound system.

Brady Shearer: People love to see the fruit of what they’ve given towards.

Alex Mills: Absolutely. And if you’re using our giving platform, RebelGive, which you can check out at rebelgive.com, you can create something that we call these custom giving trigger links that can couple with a specific giving need where you can create a hyperlink and it’s going to be like some URL that people can click, whether in an email newsletter or directly on social media. When they click on that, the giving flow within RebelGive will pre-populate a certain amount and/or a preselected fund.

Brady Shearer: Right.

Alex Mills: So you could try to raise … You could go towards raising money towards a new sound system. And what I would do, taking this to the next level, is I’d get a custom domain with a redirect set up or create a redirect directly on your root domain of your own website.

Brady Shearer: Okay.

Alex Mills: So for instance, the domain newsoundsystem.com is available, right now.

Brady Shearer: How is that available?

Alex Mills: I don’t know, but I found it this morning, so …

Brady Shearer: I’m shocked you didn’t buy it.

Alex Mills: I was like, [inaudible 00:10:30] someone, somebody’s going to need this one. I don’t need a new sound system. Newsoundsystem.com, you could buy that and you could say, hey, we’re raising money for this new sound system. You could talk about the story, inspire people, and then give them that next step. This is our church announcements formula that you can use here, is if you want to get [inaudible 00:10:45] newsoundsystem.com. Someone could go to that which redirects to that custom giving trigger link that you’ve set up and let’s say it’s $50 and it’s already preselected to that fund and then all someone has to do is enter their credit card information or their banking information and they can give in 11 seconds, four seconds, however long it might be and that’s how easy it can be.

Brady Shearer: I love that idea of the pre-selected giving flow. I think it’s so smart first because it makes giving so easy. If you are in your email, you click on a link that says give now, it takes you to a form that’s already filled out for you, if you have an account with that giving software, you just click give or whatever and it’s done.

Alex Mills: Do. Go.

Brady Shearer: It couldn’t be any easier.

Alex Mills: Now.

Brady Shearer: But I also do like the idea of a predetermined amount. We have a pastor friend of ours who did a campaign for new chairs a few years ago, and I forget what he called it. It was like buy a seat or something. But he encouraged his congregation to give and they wanted new chairs for the whole sanctuary. They were like, well buy your family seats. So if you have four … Here’s what the chairs are worth. If you have four family members, consider giving times four to this fund. And so you can do the same thing. If a chair is worth 80 bucks or something, I want to buy my seat. Click buy my seat. It’s already prepopulated for me. Bought my seat. Could it be any easier than that?

Alex Mills: So that’s a specific feature within our giving platform, rebelgive.com. We do want to mention that maybe your giving platform can do that. Maybe it cannot, but we do think that’s a really cool way to make the experience easier for your users. And like we talked about earlier, you need to have the willingness to give.

Brady Shearer: Sure.

Alex Mills: Which you cannot control, but we know it’s happening in the end of the year. So you want to take every opportunity to not only inspire people to give, but then to make it as easy as possible. What you don’t want is to do all the work and then someone gets there and they see this huge clunky form, it’s way too much, and they’re like, you know what? I don’t have time right now. I’m going to do this tomorrow.

Brady Shearer: Well, this is around the holidays, right? It’s the day after Thanksgiving. It’s the day after Christmas. It’s these times where you’re super busy already. You mentioned earlier, you’re not really checking your emails. So if I see … If I can get through this in three clicks, I’ll buy a seat. I’ll support the new sound system.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: I’ll put my year end gift in, because you’ve made it easy for me to do that.

Alex Mills: And I would say … I’m not suggesting that necessarily someone sees a clunky giving form, it’s like I refuse to give, but what’ll happen is like, you know, it’s like, oh, you know what? I actually don’t have time for this right now. I didn’t realize it was going to be … How many times have you hit a form and you’re like, oh, this is more than I thought? Oh, I’ll get to this email tomorrow. And then they forget because they were so inspired to give in that moment and the next time they have an excuse for it and then they won’t. That’s what happens again and again and that’s why the giving experience, it really can make a considerable difference, and we’ve architected our solution to be as smooth as possible. Oh, and of course we don’t take any of the money that you get.

Brady Shearer: There you go.

Alex Mills: You’ll receive 100% of every gift, so go to rebelgive.com if you want to explore more about that. Final two things that you can do, put a card on your homepage. If you’re using Nucleus, our website builder, you can put a card directly on your homepage. You can call it year end giving. If you’re going to talk about it for a period of four to six weeks, which is what we recommend, don’t just wait for those final three days. Start at Thanksgiving. You could have that page on your homepage right at the beginning of Thanksgiving. So anytime someone visits your website from end of November through the very end of December, they’ll have the chance of seeing that card or seeing that element of your homepage and just being reminded, oh yeah, that is happening. Because the more that you can remind them over those four to six weeks, the more likely someone is to actually take the opportunity and give, because there are going to be so many people that don’t give the first time you mention it.

Brady Shearer: Right.

Alex Mills: And they might not give the second time, but after they hear two or three announcements about it and they see it on social now and again, and they’ve heard this story and they missed Thanksgiving and Giving Tuesday, but they saw the stories of all the life change that was happening, and then you launch the newsoundsystem.com campaign, and they ignore it the first time, but then they finally see it again and they’re like, you know what? I will give to this. And that’s why you don’t want to wait until the final three days only, because for most of us it takes two, three, four, there’s that rule of seven in marketing where you need seven exposures to a brand before you’re willing to take a next step with them and giving money is kind of the ultimate next step. So you want to take as many opportunities as you can to capitalize on that willingness.

And then when you do get to those final three days, you want to delicately lean into scarcity. And you don’t want to overdo this, because you’re a church and it can seem real tacky.

Brady Shearer: Yeah, you don’t want to be begging for money.

Alex Mills: But it’s okay to acknowledge that there is a very real material deadline of 11:59 PM on December 31st, where if you miss that deadline to give, and with digital giving, it’s not like you timestamp something. It’s very clear, you missed it. You can’t go back in time. If you miss it, that money is … That donation is not tax deductible. So you want to lean into that, because you’re going to see that biggest spike likely the way we see the biggest spike at the end of our launches on 11 o’clock on the day the course closes.

Brady Shearer: Yeah. It’s like what were you guys waiting for? What were you doing?

Alex Mills: I don’t understand it.

Brady Shearer: It’s six weeks.

Alex Mills: I mean, I should, I don’t … It shocks me every time, but here we are. You’ll see the same thing. So send an email again on the 29th, the 30th, and the 31st and just delicately lean into that scarcity. Just don’t overdo it, because it’s not worth it and it will come off tacky.

Brady Shearer: Yeah.

Alex Mills: Seven ways to maximize year end giving. I encourage you to follow this framework, checkout rebelgive.com and that’ll do it for this episode of Pro Church Tools. We’ll see you next time.

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