Parishes need donors to sustain their ministries — but what’s in it for the person giving the money? In order to nurture or increase essential giving, we need to understand that it’s more than just a feel-good move. Here are some reasons why parishioners and visitors give to a parish and ways that we can take their giving to the next level.
Fund Your Mission While Filling Their Soul
There are numerous instances in the Bible that talk about tithing. From Genesis to Leviticus and Corinthians to the Gospel of Matthew, we hear about the importance of giving a tenth of what we have. But in today’s day and age, there are so many organizations vying for our attention and our pocketbook. It’s only natural that we need to be selective in who and what we give to.
When people choose to support an important cause, it triggers a strong emotional response. Even though they may not be able to be there physically, they can still help in times of need by contributing to the cost of food, water, shelter, emergency response, and more. And that is what we need to get across and make tangible to the people in the pews when it comes to giving to our parish: whether placing an envelope in the collection basket or scheduling recurring giving online, each dollar given makes a huge difference in what the parish can ultimately do.
Make a connection with everyone who walks through the parish doors by getting to know them and discover what they’re passionate about. As a parish leader, it’s essential to ask questions and then follow up those questions with ways they can give their talents to the church. Do they own a maintenance service? Ask if they’d be willing to help on the garden committee come spring. Do they have a degree in writing? Ask if they’d be willing to look over the parish website and offer suggestions on updating copy. Once they begin to realize that they have gifts to give, the more they realize the importance of their presence and gifts.
Remember That Stewardship Is A Two-Way Street
Mention the word stewardship, and you’ll find that many people associate a negative connotation to it. And that’s understandable. Years ago, a great deal of emphasis was placed on the money part of stewardship. Well-meaning pastors, finance directors, and committee members, who were struggling to find a way to keep the parish doors open during a time when churches were merging and closing, tried their hardest to bring in much-needed income in a way that made parishioners feel as though all they cared about was money. Even though we’ve gotten better about sharing the real definition of stewardship, there is still much work to be done. One way we can help get past this is by turning the tables and asking our parishioners what they need from us, the church.
So many people come to church hurt and broken, looking for compassion and an authentic relationship with Christ. It is our responsibility as parish leaders to look for, recognize, and reach out to these “sheep without a shepherd,” and remind them that we are here for them. Showing compassion and lending a helping hand leads to a greater connection and opens the door to a two-way relationship.
Remind Them That All Gifts Are Gratefully Accepted
We see this often when it comes to sustaining gifts. Oftentimes, donors think they need to hit a certain monetary threshold in order to make a difference. However, that has been proven time and time again to be a false way of thinking. We need to remind our parishioners that all gifts, no matter the amount or method, is important.
When talking about supporting the parish, be sure to add “out of the box” ways that people can give. Five dollars a week? An afternoon volunteering in the office once a month? Donating religious books and gently used toys to the nursey? They all make a difference! Keep a running list of ways people can give of their time, talent, and treasure, and be sure to highlight and thank them often for their valuable contributions — whatever they may be!
Looking for more ways to increase giving and expand your parishioners’ knowledge about the true meaning of stewardship? Check out “How to Grow Recurring Giving” and “At the Crossroads of Engagement & Stewardship.”