Timeline Plans for Stewardship

I work best with systems in place.  I don’t have to continually reinvent the wheel, just tweak it from time to time.  The timeline below has worked great in setting up some simple stewardship plans within our church.  Many of these things I have learned by reading after Steve Stroope, Nelson Searcy, and other trainings that I go to on a fairly regular basis.  This plan has been put together as I have taken various aspects of those trainings to create a system.  I hope it is helpful to you.

Annually

Secure an Annual Commitment (Usually in January)

  • Use a card in services: Will you recommit yourself to being in a small group (which group), sharing your faith (who is on your card), quiet time (morning, afternoon or night), Serving (where), Giving (What will you give to general fund, building fund, missions fund). This is usually about the third week of January.  This is recommitting to basic Christian discipline. Allow people to specify how they plan to fulfill their commitments this year (including the amount they plan to give to the general fund, capital campaign and missions).  Don’t base your budget off of this amount – it’s for the individuals themselves. People are 15 times more likely to keep a commitment that they write it down and hand it in.

Receive Christmas Eve Offering (In addition to General Fund Offering)

  • This offering can go towards the Benevolence fund to help meet needs as they arise in the upcoming year.

Receive an Annual Offering (In addition to General Fund & Christmas Eve Offering)

  • This can be done every December.  Most nonprofits send out a lot of requests at this time of year, because they know that it is a time when people are most willing to give.  Identify what the Annual offering is going towards.  If it is missions, identify those areas specifically that people can give to.  Be detailed.  People want to know specifics.  Mail a separate envelope to the homes.  Additionally have a separate envelope in the chairs for this offering.
  • This offering is a special offering given during a set period of time around Christmas.  It encourages people to give over and above their regular tithe and offerings.  The areas this offering goes towards needs to be “Heart” projects.  It encourages people and challenges people to get involved and offers blessings for people who get involved.  The goal for this offering should be set initially to be 2 or 3 times your weekly offering.  Once your church has done this a few times, your goal will more likely be 4 to 6 times your weekly offering.
  • Identify One-time causes and new initiatives to work towards and promote.  Have no more than 3 or 4 heart causes (non-recurring).  Types of “Heart” causes could include: Missions, Church Planting, Servant Evangelism, Counseling, and Benevolence, Help for Poor & Needy, Children’s Ministry, Youth, Seniors, New Church Plant, New Multi-site Locations.  The good thing is if you don’t raise it, you don’t fund it.  These should be things that you can’t do unless people get involved.  Any money given over and above your goal can be divided equally between missions and the annual budget.
  • If you hit your goal before the season for giving is over, you can always expand the goal by adding additional elements to the goal.  Tell the church that “God has bigger plans”.  This would be a true statement if He is bringing in additional funding.
  • Note: If all of the leaders in the church give, you’re more likely to get all of your people to give.  If only half of your leaders give than likely only half of the church will give.  The Pastor and staff needs to step up and give the first gifts towards this offering.  Make it the first and best gift you can give.  If you need to pay over a few weeks, then do it.  Be sure you are a part of setting the example.
  • When you mail out your packet for the Annual Offering include, a letter from the pastor, 2 page overview sheets, Q&A Pages, Giving Envelope – Put all of this in a 6×9 envelope.  Mail this out the week after the offering is announced.  Send it to everyone who has an affiliation with your church.  If you extend the annual offering into the new year, you may want to mail another packet at the beginning of the new year.
  • You should begin your kick off for this offering the Sunday before Thanksgiving (even sooner if possible).  Include it in your Week at A Glance email newsletter every week.  Give updates and tell people where you are at in the campaign beginning in mid December (talk percentages or hard numbers, which ever works best for the time).
  • You should promote the annual offering from the stage, in sermons, in small groups, at events and activities, in leadership training meetings, etc… When you get tired of talking about the Annual Offering, the people will have heard it for the first time.  Use creative redundancy.  Think through how you say it.  Focus on the Why of the offering.  Focus in on a different area of the offering each week.

Limit Special Offerings each year

  • Don’t nickel and dime your church.  You cannot hype something new every month and expect your people to respond fresh every month.

Annual Gifts

  • At the end of each year, everyone who gives over a certain threshold will receive a gift and a letter of appreciation to those givers.  The gift might be “The Treasure Principle”, a DVD of life changes that year, or even a book on spiritual growth. You can determine what the baseline threshold is.  This investment in these people will help them develop in their gift of giving and/or see what their giving has done to impact the Kingdom.

Quarterly Letter/Statements

Send quarterly statements to give people a chance to correct their giving before the end of the year. You need to maximize these quarterly giving statements.  Include a Financial Newsletter; keep it simple and easy to understand.  Make it about more than just finance by including small group involvement, ministry involvement and other areas.  Let people know what their gift has helped you to accomplish over the quarter.  Identify life change stories because of the giving – not just numbers … include names (remember that stewardship is a heart issue).  Let people know how you are accountable for money spent and identify how the money is spent (If you are audited, let them know).  This is a chance to communicate to your people how you (leadership) are being good stewards of the resources they’re giving.  The more formal your giving statements look, the more people give.  There is trust in professionalism.  This letter or newsletter needs to come either from the lead pastor or the executive pastor.  It is always good to remind people to be consistent in their giving (2nd Quarterly statement usually has this theme).  Always put a “P.S.” in your letters – People usually read this first.  Make it more personal by signing it first name only.  Place your title below the P.S.  When sending out your letter, find a strategic time.  You may use it to coincide with helping promote a new series or something that is going to be happening.  Include some add in promotional items with the quarterly statement. It doesn’t have to be right at the end of the quarter.  To grab attention, put teaser notes on the front of your envelope.  Let people know about projects.  Include a list of designated giving options they can give toward ($50 leather-bound bible that is given to new Christians to $50,000 van for the church … this can be things that are in the budget).  This is usually about 14 items. Also tell how to give online, etc… Put camp scholarships in newsletter.  If it is 4th Quarter statement, the front of the envelope can be, “Important 2012 Tax Documents Enclosed”.

Note: You could do another statement at the end of November to help promote year end giving.  This is an opportunity to let people make sure their records are up to date.  If you do send one out at the end of November,  your Third Quarter giving statement should go out at the first of October.  Make sure the 3rd quarter statements go out First Class; this allows you to know if the address is wrong.  Bulk mailing just gets thrown out.  A website resource for ideas on mail outs is lumpymail.com.

Monthly

You can promote giving in your monthly newsletter.  Make a constant box for online giving or automatic giving.  You can also use this section to insert testimonies from members who have seen how giving has changed their lives and their perspective on God.

Weekly

First Time Givers (Send Something)

  • Send out first time giver email… thank them for their gift.  According to our records this is the first time you have given
  • When someone gives to your church it’s a great time to ask for them to give again.
  • Can send a gift to first time givers.  “The blessed life” (Randy Morris) or “Treasure Principle”.
  • First time giving letters should come from the Lead Pastor.
  • Count the number of first time givers and the number of total givers to be able to track trends within giving.

Regular Givers (Thank Them and encourage with books etc..)

  • Get a big giver report every week …  ($1000 for the first time or out of the ordinary).  They will get a handwritten letter from the pastor.  “Dear ___, Thank you for honoring God with your finances.  Your giving helps support the ministry of our church.  (signed by Pastor)  Keep a record of who those notes go out to so you don’t continue to send out the same note. If they have never received the treasure principle book … they get the treasure principle book.  If they have that you can send The Generous Giver book, The Rest of God, Margin, Fields of Gold by Andy Stanley or other life development books could be helpful.

Extravagant Givers

  • Follow the regular givers layout above.  You can also write a personal handwritten note to key givers to thank them for being willing to give.
  • Consider lining up a meal (breakfast or lunch) once or twice a week with key donors.  Once they hit a certain point in giving, have these meals be automatically set up.  This meeting is not to show favoritism to those who give, but to invest in a leader within your church who has been blessed with the spiritual gift of giving.  When you go to this meeting, get a record of their giving.  This card should have the name of the spouse, kids, activity in small group, where they are serving, etc.  Ask the giver, “Is there any way our church can do a better job of helping you grow in Christ?”  Do you have any questions about where our church is going or anything that is going on in our church?” (If they have any concern about the direction or vision of the church it will affect their giving.)  Thank them for giving financially to the church.  Tell a story of a life that was changed in the recent past.  Ask them how you can pray for them and add them to your permanent prayer list.  You generally do not ask for money at these meetings and often times it is not discussed heavily. (If you’re in a capital campaign, ask them to pray about giving the biggest gift that they have ever given.)  The main goal of this meeting is developing relationships and trust with these givers.

The timeline above is really based on the idea that stewardship is discipleship.  We must invest in people and encourage them along the journey as they grow spiritually.  I pray that some of the above plans can help you move forward in developing a culture of generosity within your church.
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About John Herring

I've been in ministry for almost 20 years. In that time, I have had the opportunity to serve in a variety of roles including, Student and Children's Pastor, Worship and Media Pastor, Education/Small Groups Pastor, Associate Pastor, Church Administrator, Missions Pastor and 'other duties as assigned' Pastor. Many of these have been within the same church and I have had the opportunity to see a variety of changes and transitions in ministry over the past 20 years. I enjoy coaching, consulting, mentoring and investing in leaders to see them become who it is God created them to be. As I do all of these, I am also in transition from where God had me to where He is taking me and enjoying learning more about Him in the journey. I am blessed to have been married to a beautiful godly woman, Alisha, for 11 years and have 2 amazing kids. I continue to learn more about them, myself and God every day. View all posts by John Herring

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