The Deadly Sins of Church Fundraising: Sin 1-Lack of Clarity

Are you experiencing one of the deadly sins of church fundraising?

Church leaders are often baffled as to why people don’t give as faithfully and consistently as they should to their church. After years of studying this and watching churches that are funded become more funded and churches that are broke become more broke, I personally believe that the issue isn’t as much with the people as it is with the leadership of the church lacking clarity in their church finances.

Church leaders use words like “offering” and “tithe” and often times don’t explain them. Churches talk about a vision for multi-site ministry that people should give towards, but fail to explain thoroughly to people what multi-site is and what it isn’t. Church leaders assume people understand how the church is funded. Many churches have quit talking about what the budget needs really are and we just hope God will provide a miracle. Many churches wait until they are really, really, really broke to be completely transparent about where the church is financially and what the consequences will be. Many leaders have never fully explained what the Bible teaches about giving and what God expects of believers.

So what do we do about all this? How do we solve the problem of lack of clarity in church finances?

Like I told you in the intro, we aren’t going to just tell you the problem but we are going to offer some solutions that will give you shortcuts to achieve massive results. Here are a few areas that we can improve our clarity so that we can see an increase in generosity.

Step 1 – Do The Team Test

Have your entire leadership team or board or key staff or volunteers write down what the top 4 financial objectives are for the next 12 months. This will be an eye opening exercise for most teams. Most churches will see a variety of results and it is likely that very few would have complete unity in the answers.

Here is the deal, if your team is unclear about what you are trying to accomplish financially, how clear do you think the people in your church are?

The first step to fully funding your vision is to develop no more than 4 financial objectives you are trying to accomplish during the next twelve months. We get paid thousands of dollars to walk churches through this process because churches see extremely good results when clarity increases.

Giving Rocket Commandment 1: Clarity Increases Generosity

Step 2 – Develop Clear Objectives

Pastors tell me all the time, “When you come in for our coaching we don’t need to work on that because we know what we trying to accomplish.” I usually laugh and say something like, “We will see.” Do you know what ends up happening? We spend about 3-4 hours develop clarity. Most ministry leaders believe there is clarity because THEY are clear. Clarifying objectives is a team process and takes time.

Here is an example of what many church leaders think are clear objectives:

1. Meet budget

2. Fund a multi-site campus in the fall

3. Refurnish the children’s area

4. Start saving more money as a buffer for emergencies

Here is what clear objectives look like:

1. Take in $650,000 by December 31

2. Raise $125,000 in upfront costs and $5000/month in pledges toward our multi-site by August 15

3. Save 5% of weekly offerings in a separate savings account between February 1 & July 1 to refurnish children’s area.

4. Receive a special offering on May 19th to provide a $60,000 buffer for emergencies

What I have found is that most churches have an “idea” of what they want to do but rarely have any idea of how much it really costs to do it. I would schedule a team meeting today with key leaders to establish clarity for the next twelve months.

Step 3 – Communicate Your Clear Objectives (Then Do It Again)

There is no such thing as over communicating your clear financial objectives to your church. It is absolutely crazy to think you can have one message, letter, email, meeting or series and expect people to “get it”.

If you really want to see generosity sky rocket you better have a SUPER solid plan of communication in the following areas:

1. Direct mail – Yes, direct mail does work but only if you do it as an appeal, not just an update.

2. 52 Times of Giving – Most churches have 52 weekends to communicate clearly with their donor base about where the money is going and the vision behind it! We have created a killer resource that can help you increase the effectiveness of your offering time and teaching about money.

3. Preaching – Yes, you should have at least one series a year where you preach through the objectives you are trying to accomplish and why they matter to each person’s life in your church.

4. Online – Through emails, video messages, blogs, tweets, Facebook status, and every other way possible, you should be scheduled in your communication.

Here is the deal: Clarity at its core will help you with generosity because it will solidify the message in you, your staff, your key leaders and entire church. Remember what Andy Stanley says, “It’s okay to be uncertain, its’ never okay to be unclear.”

These principles apply year-round, but you can apply them to a year-end giving initiative as well. A year-end giving initiative is a great way to help your church end the year above budget.

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