Whats the secret to surviving the current financial challenges that churches face? Is it simply to spend less, or maybe hire a financial consultant? Right now, fear is leading the way on this topic. Most churches are behaving as if they have no control over their financial future. In fact, they have complete control. They just are not taking advantage of it.
Several posts back, I talked about the budgeting process and a few other money issues. Today I want to focus on the core of what the church is doing wrong in the face of this issue.
1. They are not dealing with reality
2. They are asking in the wrong way
3. They are not spending strategically
1. Deal with reality. Every study out there shows the increased usage of Debit and Credit cards as the primary way that people spend money. Checks and cash are now in the minority. So what way do most churches rely upon to get money? A basket that takes the 2 forms of spending that people are using less and less. I have churches tell me that the weekly offering is key to paying the bills. So why would you make it difficult for your people to give? Look into setting up electronic funds transfers and even the new Giving Kiosks. And if you need to make the point “real”…ask your finance team if they personally have cash or checks with them at the next finance meeting.
2. Ask correctly. For years, our church members supported the ministry out of obligation. If you told them what the church needed, they would give. Those days are GONE. Even our older members are no longer motivated by that method. Your people are courted by hundreds of entities that have a more compelling approach than you and that is where they are choosing to give. It may be their Alma mater, a local non-profit, or an animal shelter. But they are giving – just not to you. Why? Because you have not asked in a way that connects with their heart. You know this stuff – it is the basis of a million sermons. People act on what connects with their heart. Tell the stories of lives that have been changed through your ministry. Let them see what their giving does. Give them the opportunity to be apart of making someones life better. Tell the stories.
3. Spend strategically. In tough economic times, people are very aware of how money is being spent. Many church finance people gain more power during this time than any other time. Everyone defers to the money people who always say the same thing. “STOP SPENDING!” And so they do. It creates a short term fix for a long term problem.
Here is the paradigm shift –
If people don’t see their money spent, then people don’t give.
Let me say that again. You have to show them that you are spending their money in order to get them to give more money. Lots of churches have taken the absolute wrong approach by cutting “all unnecessary spending”. This usually means anything other than payroll and utility bills. This is a HUGE demotivator to givers. Spend money on things that people can SEE and TOUCH. Paint the lobby to show that you are alive and expecting guests, send kids to camp, buy a car for someone in the community, or anything that says ” We are making a difference!”
Historically, giving to charities has weathered all economic downturns. People understand that giving what they can really matters during these times.
Make it easy for them to give,
tell them the stories of changed lives,
and let them see some results.