Offertory Donor Cultivation
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Donor cultivation in a church setting requires continuing to both ask for support and engage your parishioners. Many churches want to find ways to increase offertory giving. Finding exciting ways to cultivate for your offertory donors is not simply a “one and done” proposition. You have to develop a way of approaching parish life that goes far beyond a single transaction. You’re not just trying to appease your parishioners and keep them happy until the next Bishop’s Annual Appeal. Instead, you’re really trying to build community.
Cultivation is about building relationships
Below are a large number of different ways that you can build a healthy relationship with your parishioners. This list doesn’t have everything and some are surely easier than others. Every year, you need to have an annual fundraising plan that includes a mixture of different cultivation opportunities.
Remember that people are hungry for spiritual food. The world has nothing to offer them, and they have a very real spiritual hunger only you can feed. If you want to increase offertory giving, you can’t focus on increasing offertory giving. Make sure that you’re investing in their spiritual growth as a first priority and many of the other activities will find their place rather easily.
Annual Stewardship Campaign
This type of cultivation requires a section of its own, which is what it gets. The Annual Stewardship Campaign is a month of homilies, testimonies, and activities that encourage people to give for the first time, continue their giving, or increase their giving.
Plan Spiritual Activities
Remember that your parish is the wellspring of spiritual goods for your parishioners. Don’t be afraid to challenge them to grow spiritually by hosting retreats, bible studies, and small prayer groups. Human beings hunger for spiritual nourishment. If you aren’t feeding them, who will?
Tell the parish about good things that are happening in the parish. Projects completed, ministry successes, exciting prospects. You have several different options for communicating with your parish: Sunday bulletin, newsletter, e-mail, announcements, posters in the Narthex. Be creative.
Plan fun activities
A parish pot luck or picnic can do a lot to help people to feel connected to the parish and to their fellow parishioners. Planning these activities are great opportunities for lay members of the parish to exercise their gifts of leadership.
Preaching about giving
Giving to the Church is both a duty and a source of blessing. Preach about tithing! Don’t be afraid that you’ll alienate people, because it’s not about laying a guilt trip on them. The goal of preaching about tithing is to help people to come to the realization that giving to the Church is something that they ought to want to do.
Annual financial discussion
Once a year, share the parish budget during the announcement period and give a brief overview of the financial condition of the parish. Again, this is important for financial transparency.
Mention online giving options during announcements
If you have a way for people to give their offertory online, let them know that it’s available. This doesn’t have to be a full ask, but simply telling folks that this option is available.
Passing the basket
The most ubiquitous and regular donor cultivation in the parish setting is during the collection of the gifts. When that basket goes down the pew, people know that this is a request for a gift.
Mailing offertory envelopes
Some people like writing checks for their offertory and dropping them in the basket. Pre-printed offertory envelop serves as a reminder and can also streamline your donation processing.
Reminders for online givers
Most online recurring donations are done with a credit card, so you’ll need to remind people when their cards are about to expire. This is also a good time to offer them the opportunity to increase their gift. This is called an ‘upgrade’ request.
Offertory reports in the bulletin
Financial accountability is important. You can demonstrate how the parish is doing by listing the previous week’s collection and comparing it with the prior year. This adds some helpful transparency to the parish.
“Thank you” from the pulpit
Nothing substitutes for a good “Thank You.” One of the biggest complaints to many priests is that their parishioners hear all the time about how they need to give. It’s good to offset any asking with expressions of genuine gratitude.
Help your parish to live the Gospel!
Remember that cultivation for your offertory is more than just asking people for money. Ultimately, it’s about helping them to live the Gospel more fully and enabling them to build their relationships with God, their neighbors, and their families. THIS SHOULD BE FUN!