Back in 2014, the church I was serving at had to cut one of our short-term mission budgets to the Natives we had been committed for many years. The budget cut was rather sudden so the majority of high school and college students who comprised the bulk of the group were not quite ready with the doubling of the mission registration cost. I was getting rather worried and began to wonder if people will be able to afford to join the team and serve as we had done before.
It was during the early spring of 2014 when a friend of mine just called me out of the blue. I hadn’t spoken to him for about 5 years and the day he happened to call me was the day after I found out about the short-term mission budget changes.
Just when I began to complain to God about the injustices of this sudden change, my friend called and asked me if I had any financial need. He began to tell me that he felt prompted by God to call me and give to any need I may have. I was speechless and so humbled as I was reminded by God that he knew our situation and heard my cry.
I began to share with my friend about our sudden turn of budget constraint that was placed on the team I was leading. After I shared, he simply asked me how much we needed. Just like that? I said that the price was doubled from $400 to $800, and this affected roughly about 15 people, so the total we needed was $6000. My friend wrote a check out for $6300 that very day and mailed it out right away. I got the check a few days later and submitted it to the church and we were able to provide a scholarship to those who needed the funds.
That year, we took a team of 20 people as we did annually, and we were able to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Natives we had been ministering for close to a decade. All because God had prompted a family’s heart, and this family was positioned to give generously and was heeding God’s leading in the way they can bless the church of Christ.
What was especially amazing for me from this experience was that my friend was a high school teacher. How does a person with a teacher’s salary manage to save up so much money and give so generously? And I began to think more seriously about what we needed to do to disciple our people to be positioned to give generously when prompted by God.
In order for God’s people to be positioned to give generously, a few things must have happened in their lives.
Whose is it? My friend and his wife embraced the reality that everything belonged to God and that they were temporary stewards (managers) of God’s finances.
How much do you need? They also knew what they needed to provide for their family. Because they knew what was given for their family’s need, they also knew what was given to them to give away generously.
Prioritize givingregularly. He and his wife spent less than they earned and intentionally saved for giving. I believe this is a mark of God’s people who give consistently and generously.
Seek the Master’s wishes. People who want to follow the wishes of their Master seek the Master’s input. They prayed and listened. They sought and waited to see where God might want them to give.
Obey the Master. After praying, they obeyed by responding to how they believe God had prompted them to give.
I remember sharing this amazing news to my congregation a few Sundays after the donation. A member came to me afterward. She shared how encouraged and challenged she was to see such generous and sacrificial giving.
I told her that she too can do what my friend did if she also began to live out her life as God’s steward by 1) recognizing that everything belongs to God, 2) spending less than what she earned by living with a budget, and 3) prioritizing giving.
We all want to. We have the desire to give generously to God and God’s purposes, but it is not enough to have great intentions. If we want to give generously and sacrificially to God, we have to position ourselves by managing God’s treasures wisely. That takes work and discipline like anything of value.
Dream here with me.
What could your local church do if the people of God in your church were managing finances God’s way by spending less than they earned, didn’t have any debt, and tithing and giving above and beyond with generosity? Imagine the kind of ministry you can do for your community and the world with the unique call God has placed in your local church’s heart?
I’m reminded of the parable of the talents from Matthew 25 which teaches us about the principle of stewardship. We are reminded that 1) the Master owns it all, 2) the Master gave temporary management of his treasures, 3) the Master will come to judge how we have managed.
Church, how are you discipling God’s people in this important area of managing our treasures? We do such a good job of discipling our people in time and talents, why not treasures? After all, Jesus talks quite a lot about it in the Scriptures.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Paul Jang serves as an Associate Pastor at Church Gathered and Scattered in North Haledon, New Jersey. He is also Certified Financial Coach & Church Stewardship Ministry Consultant at www.jangfinancial.com
Kenny: Hey, welcome back, friends. This is Kenny Jahng, host of Generosity Labs podcast, where we talk about stewardship, giving and non-profit funding for churches as well as ministries. One of the things that we typically do is talk to pastors and other church leaders. Today, I’m excited because we’re going to pivot a little bit on the conversation. I brought on today as a guest, Jason Altman from Enterprise Holdings, an organization in the marketplace so, that we can get a look on the inside of how corporate America and the marketplace is really looking at social good about volunteerism and other things related. So, welcome to the show today, Jason. Great to have you here today.
Jason: Hey, thanks Kenny. Thanks so much for having me.
Kenny: So right off the bat, let’s talk about, who you are, what you do, what’s your role at Enterprise Holdings? So, give us the 30-second rundown of Enterprise Holdings and your role there at the company.
Jason: Well, Enterprise Holdings provides a complete transportation solutions to large organizations right down to individuals. You probably know us best from enterprise rent-a-car or a car rental division. We’ve got an enterprise, national and LMO. I’m the regional vice president over central New Jersey in Staten Island. So, I’ve got responsibility for other stores and individuals that serve those markets.
Kenny: Nice. And, one of the things that I think people don’t understand is that, you are more than just car rentals, right? As the transport systems. Why don’t we just talk about that first, just for a second. What are some of the other things that you guys do? And then, also, the profile of the company itself is a little bit different. It’s not a public company, right?
Jason: No, it’s privately held. So your first question, when I say complete transportation solutions, we’ve got a leasing division, fleet services. Gosh, we’ve got a car-share, you know, ride share. We’ve got a bunch of different divisions of the organization up to and including a retail car sales. We actually sell our cars if you’re in the market.
Kenny: You guys are one of the largest re-sellers of cars in the country, right? That’s a little bit unknown fact. A hidden gem, basically. And then your structure, you are not a public company. You are private companies still, even though it’s a behemoth of the brands that you own. It’s quite amazing that you’re still private.
Jason: Yeah. Privately held. One very committed family out of St Louis, Missouri.
Kenny: That’s one of the things for me, my radar went off a little bit because it is one of those stories that because it’s private because it’s family-driven then culture and values usually come into play in a business setting. Is that something that you can share with us? What’s the uniqueness of that which has helped enterprise flourish from that perspective?
Jason: Yeah. The company was certainly founded on a set of values and the larger we got becoming this behemoth, this you say, you know, ownership got concerned that we were straying from those values. So they established a set of criteria which really measures the operators against the degree to which they live and exhibit those values. And a lot of that involves supporting the communities. We serve to do good. But there’s certainly operations and other things, but a great deal of it has to do with corporate social responsibility.
Kenny: Yeah. So that’s the Buzzword I want to talk about today because many people assume that these giant corporations are just about profit and there’s these other, I think, there’s a subset that’s growing. Some of it just out of authenticity and some of it purely copycat, right? That this phrase CSR, corporate social responsibility is becoming a little bit like how recycling or fair trade or all these other things have become commonplace and now embedded in many corporate cultures. Corporate social responsibility is one of them being local, being invested in the communities that you serve and that you’re present in. How do you define that and what does that mean for you as an executive? How are you living out that corporate social responsibility?
Jason: It’s in your soul, right? It can’t be a buzzword. Like anything in our business, it needs to be a strategic, well-thought out and most importantly, well-executed. So, in my business, well, Enterprise globally partners with the United Way Worldwide and I sit on the board of the United Way of Ocean and Monmouth counties and this gives and creates a wonderful portfolio of giving and volunteering opportunities for my team. We’re finding Kenny that our current and potential employees that this really resonates with them. Working for a company that affords them the opportunity to support their communities to feel more connected to them is really, really important. So, we have your lead campaigns, we have events, we monitor, we measure, the company invest. There’s a matching that takes place.
Kenny: Is there like a corporate foundation or something like that?
Jason: Absolutely. With the United Way in particular is a wonderful mechanism. It’s almost corporate social responsibility in a box, right? If you’re an executive out there and this resonates with you, right? You understand it, appreciate it. It’s not a buzzword. We need a strategy that these folks, we, can help with that. I mean they are a committed collaborative, doing a great work. And frankly, they could use a hand. We could use that.
Kenny: And so, one of the things that you talked about is that I think in our pre-interview chat, you were talking about how Enterprise is one of the largest recruiters of a specific demographic. Can you share a little bit about that?
Jason: Yeah. What we are, in fact, one of the largest recruiters of college graduates.
Kenny: And this portion is a recruiting benefit that is mentioned upfront. Is that what you’re saying?That this comes up consistently, that people who are looking for jobs are not just looking for same dental benefits or a parking spot or whatever, that they are actually evaluating their opportunities as to how and what are the opportunities that you guys are doing in the community as well.
Jason: Absolutely. When we interview a candidate and say, “Do you have any questions for us?” Increasingly, they’re asking about, “Hey, what are you doing in the communities? How can I, as an employee, get involved in that?” And, it resonates. It really does. It has become a big part of our recruiting strategy.
Kenny: Now. So, your company and your personal time is now invested in this United Way of Monmouth county. Is that correct?
Jason: Monmouth and Ocean county.
Kenny: Monmouth and Ocean county United Way. What are some of the things that you’re seeing that organization is doing really well, that the community itself would be missing if they were removed from the equation?
Jason: Yeah, that’s a great question. First of all, just unique to the United Way. They do a wonderful job at collaborating, bringing in organizations whether from the business world or non-profit. It’s interesting. Guys like me who are involved in a non-profit sector quite a bit and it’s a crowded space. There’s a lot of people competing for attention to the same dollars. And what’s unique about the United Way is how, in spite of all that, they will collaborate. So, by way of example, and this speaks to your second question, when hurricane Sandy hit.
Kenny: Yes, that was a huge, huge impact on our state.
Jason: Right? And, our CEO, Tim Hern went to another non-profit now Fulfill, its called and said, “Listen, we’re doing work at a financial service center, but we need you to take over the tech support so that I can concentrate my time, energy and effort and long-term recovery.”, right? Which is where the United Way needs to be. We need to stand in that gap. And, you know, he brought in another organization to do that. And I thought, that was a brave thing to do, was the right thing to do. And that partnership between Fulfill and the United Way of Ocean and Monmouth county exists even today at the financial service center.
Kenny: That’s a very unique strategic approach to a non-profit social service work, right?
Jason: Yeah. I certainly thought so. And there’s a lot of examples of this. It’s really mobilizing and bringing all the resource you can to bear on some of the issues that face Monmouth and Ocean county. So, it’s making a real difference.
Kenny: Now, United Way, great brand name, great exposure, a lot of awareness. I’m sure there’s a lot of brand recall as what we say in the communications marketing space. Does that organization that you volunteer with have trouble or not trouble but, are there still a huge efforts for a reason, volunteer troops and also financial support or are people lined up outside the door and because everyone knows that people are writing checks left and right without much heavy lifting on the internal side.
Jason: Yeah, it’s a great question and right. It’s certainly a well recognized brand but localized and so, I can certainly speak to the United Way of Ocean and Monmouth county. But listen, there’s a lot of people supporting it. We’re appreciative of all that help and support, but frankly, we do need more. I’d love to see a more corporate involvement in it and we’ve certainly seen an evolution in corporate social responsibility. We talked about it a little bit before.
Kenny: And that corporate social responsibility, is it only just, “Hey, we’re going to partner with you”, I mean, I’m just going to write the checks or is there more to it?
Jason: Oh, there’s so much more to it, especially with the United Way. So again, it’s a portfolio of giving, but also volunteering. So, we run a lot of team building type events with our guys and our friends at United Way will help with that. They will support that. They will attend all the events that they really mix it up with with our team. It makes our guys feel great about the work they’re doing. They are proud of it. And the really cool thing about the United Way is you could tell these guys really, really appreciate it. Nothing gets taken for granted. It’s a really neat thing to be a part of.
Kenny: I mean, there’s a reason why the United Way is the United Way. Its history that it’s embedded in communities, right? That I think structurally top down inside out, there must be something good that really is proper and the structure set up is really well. In today’s environment, there is so much competition for volunteers, for dollars, for staffing even in the non-profit world. And so, it’s really interesting to have your inside peek as to why and how this specific United Way in New Jersey is operating, et cetera. Is there anything else that you can share with us about the United Way in particular that you were involved in Monmouth and Ocean county?
Jason: We talked a little bit about a financial stability and the resource center at the Freehold mall. You know, recently, I had an opportunity to spend time with another group and one of the things that United Way is interested in working towards is helping kids through school readiness and reading proficiency. It may interest you to know Kenny, that sixty percent of kids in low income families don’t have access to children’s books. And listen, I’m a father of two, I know you’re a father, right? You almost can’t imagine a world where that exists, but it is happening right here. So, you know, through United Way with help from a lots of businesses, new individuals in the community, what we’re out there, getting these kids started on the right trajectory. But, it’s got to start early, it’s got to continue and we’re going to need some help. That’s just another example of the great work that we’re doing.
Kenny: Well, so one of the things that we ask our guests that come into the show is, “Hey, look, if you had a magic wand and you could wave it and do something really on your own personal wishlist for this non-profit, what would it be? What’s the one thing that these guys of United Way of Monmouth and Ocean county are doing really well that you want to turbo charge? Or what other parts of that program that you’ve seen? What would you like to see happen in 2018?
Jason: Well, to be honest with you, I just like more people to get involved. And, that level of involvement can vary. Check us out, commit to learning just a little bit more about the organization of Monmoth and Ocean County, the work that we’re doing. I think you’ll be moved. I think it’s just learning more will serve as a call to action and no action is too small. Listen, if you want to, put a CSR program together, similar to what I do with my organization, we are happy to help with that. If you want to make a personal donation that no matter how slight it is, everything’s gratefully received, but I’d start and settle with just learn more about what, what we’ve got going on.
Kenny: That’s a fantastic call-to-action. Jason, thank you so much for being with us today. One of the reasons we brought you on is to really see and hear you articulate just the authenticity that you have on the corporate side, but also understand from the non-profit side of the people and the partners on the street doing the heavy lifting of the work in the social service agencies like the United Way of Monmouth and Ocean county. And just seeing their approach to things I think is,it afforded as a view today that we typically don’t have. So, I really appreciate that. Thank you. Thank you for sharing that with us today.
Jason: My pleasure. Thanks for the opportunity.
Kenny: And one last thing. If people want to get in touch with you after the hearing about this topic that we’ve talked about called corporate social responsibility, what’s the best way for them to do that?
Jason: Well, sure. You can go to the United Way of Monmouth and Ocean county website, or you can contact me directly. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Either way. We’d love to hear from you and happy to help.
Kenny: Well, thanks again for coming on the show and thank you to our listeners here for taking the time to sit down with us and listen to a little bit different of a pivot of the conversations that we typically have. One of the things that is I think great about hearing Jason and his perspective from Enterprise Holdings and involvement at United Way is that this is something that we need to be paying attention to and this is something that more and more of our culture and marketplace, especially as we’ve talked on this show many times about the next generation moving up in leadership across all the sectors of our society and culture. This is something that we really need to be paying attention to, so really appreciate you’re dropping some comments below or reaching out to us on our website, generositylabs.org. Thank you so much again for paying attention to this worthy topic for us today. One of the things that we appreciate you, is also funding us up and leaving a rating and review on iTunes, Stitcher radio, or the Tunein network for this podcast so that other people can be invited into this conversation. ‘Til next time, I’m Kenny Jahng, host of the Generosity Labs podcast. Thank you so much for being with us. Be Good and be generous this season.
In this episode, Kenny sat down with one of the most respectable leaders in the aspect of generosity, stewardship and giving, Chris Willard.
They talked about how to encourage not-yet givers to be regular givers and how participating in Giving Tuesday will help spark generosity and giving to the hearts of people in your church and outside of your community.
[00:53] I started working at Leadership Network. I am the director of generosity and initiatives. In Leadership Network, what we try to do is to put churches into groups and we try to encourage them to kind of dream big about strategies that can really help them be more effective in the church. And the area that I lead is the area of generosity and stewardship and giving.
[1:35] Most of the work I am doing is trying to work with pastors who are trying to really create a revolution of generosity and stewardship and giving in their churches.
[2:09] We are entering a season talking about Giving Tuesday. Giving Tuesday, if you haven’t heard about it before, basically, is the Tuesday that follows Black Friday.
[3:04] Giving Tuesday is the place where I have given to things that are not necessarily connected to my church or to some of the ministries that I support.
[3:21] Giving Tuesday has encouraged me to give those gifts over the years and I think it’s a genius idea.
[4:07] Last year, 2016, there was 1.56 million individual gifts. And I think the total amount of donation over 40% growth over the year and I think it raised over $168 million this past year. That’s pretty size-able.
[4:33] I think churches need to get involved in Giving Tuesdays.
[4:54] I think the church is really in a perfect position to encourage people or to leverage the whole idea of Giving Tuesday.
[6:21] You need to raise money and draw attention not for your church but for what the church stands for.
[6:48] I think it would be a great way for a church to get a not-yet giver, to give a modest gift for the very first time.
[6:59] The reason people are sometimes a little bit suspicious about giving at churches is often because churches haven’t done a great job with this topic.
[7:24] You can start to say in your congregation, “Look, if you’ve never given here in our church, we will encourage you to make Giving Tuesday your very first time to kind of get involved.”
[8:41] Probably, right now, here we are, in the beginning of October, it’s a little too early to start talking to your congregation about your year-end giving strategy, but it is definitely not too early for your team to start planning.your year-end giving strategy. And, in fact? You might also be a little bit behind. Christmas is coming, Kenny. It’s going to be here before you know it and we got to get ready for that.
[9:17] As the timing, when you’re going to be talking to your congregation about year-end giving, so you’re right. Because Giving Tuesday is the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving, it’s the perfect place to be the launching point for your year-end strategy. And if I could, I would encourage anybody, it’s a free download, on the Generis website, we got a free year-end giving guide. Look for the year-end giving guide. It is an awesome tool that gives you from start to finish what you need to do to put together a really effective year-end giving initiative.
[10:48] Anytime I hear a church leader say, “I am afraid if they give that money there, they won’t give it here.” I want to remind that guy that the money we’re talking about doesn’t belong to you, it doesn’t even belong to them. It belongs to God and people need to do with it what He wants them to do.
[12:00] One of the core strategies that we have at Generosity Labs when we’re coaching end-of-year giving programs is when you name it and claim it, your campaign, we suggest there’s three parts. One is, you need to identify a project that is internal to your church, something that’s really inside the building. Then, name a project that’s inside of your building but outside of your community, that’s local. And then name a project that’s global. And Giving Tuesday could fund one of those pieces easily, right. What’s good about that is that there are people that are motivated to give to each of those.
[13:33] When you’re thinking about giving in the church, you want to challenge people to prayerfully give what they believe Lord wants them to give.
[14:07] So, whenever you offer a specific number like that, you have to be careful about the fact that you’re hitting some people and missing everybody else.
[14:49] One of the things that Giving Tuesday could do is you can give everybody a low number. Just because you want to get them involved. Just because you want to get them going. Just because it’s not about raising a huge amount of money. Sometimes, a strategy like Giving Tuesday could be just to get not-yet givers to start giving for the first time.
[15:15] Most in our churches, everybody could give a $25 gift. And maybe, that’s going to be your goal is to get more people involved as opposed to raising a huge amount of money.
In today’s episode of the Generosity Labs podcast, we interview Cesie Delve Scheuermann who talks about how simple expression of gratitude paves the way to instill a culture of generosity in every church and all over the world. She is the writer of a blog called, Inspiring Generosity.
Key points in the discussion:
How thanking a first-time giver is powerful than you think?
What are someways to show gratitude to your sponsors or givers?
How follow-throughs are important when someone gives to your church?
4 Tips to Encourage Generosity in Your Congregation.
You can listen, subscribe or watch my interview with Cesie Delve Scheuermann below.
The Generosity Labs Podcast is part of a new resource hub for pastors, providing free resources and information about digital giving. You can find more free resources here. A full transcription is below
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KENNY: Welcome everybody. This is Kenny Jahng with Generosity Labs. Thank you so much for joining us for today’s episode. I’m really happy and excited to talk to a new friend of mine across the digital information highway in the Oregon, Idaho Conference of the United Methodist Church. This is just one of the pleasures that I have a meeting people across the country that talk about generosity. So, Cesie, welcome to the show today.
CESIE: Thank you! Great to be here.
KENNY: Let’s just get started and I want to know a little bit of more about who you are and what your ministry is all about. Let’s start with where you are located and how you’re connected to the conference and some of your roles there.
CESIE: Okay, great. Well, I am located in Salem, Oregon and so it’s a capital and I’m not even wearing Birkenstocks, so how’s that? So, not really a true Oregonian. But, what I do for my work in general is I’m a Development Director. I do a lot of development stuff for nonprofits here in the Salem area, so I work with Arts. I work with some child abuse assessment program and I work with the program that helps kids get new clothes that poor kids and kids in need. And then, I have this whole other aspect of my life where I work with the church. I am a late person but have been a lifelong United Methodist with trails down to The Jesus Movement and Sojourners and a variety of different places all over the world. So, what I do now with United Methodist Church and a Methodist Church and with the Oregon Idaho conference is I write a blog calledInspiring Generosity.The work that I did through all my development work really lead me to see that clergy sadly are not trained in seminary to raise money or even how to do development work. And I see a very different fundraising which is a one-time event as opposed to development which is relationship building and the church is primed for just picking up the tips that somebody like myself has figured out over the last 20 years — I’ve been doing this for about 20 years now — that can translate very easily into the church. So, that’s what I do. So, I write a blog calledInspiring Generosity.I consult with churches about how they are doing stewardship or financial crisis that they’re in. I do all that kind of stuff.
KENNY: I love it and that is a good point. When I went to Princeton seminary. there were no classes on relationship donor developments and none of that stuff. And the question is, where is that? Where are we supposed to just pick that up? It’s definitely not in undergraduate studies, right? So, I was recently talking to the Director of Content at Princeton, thinking about what are the practical areas that we can provide as tools? But, again it’s just not being taught. And so, pastors I think are ill-equipped or under-equipped in this area of inspiring generosity. And I love the fact that your blog focus for really giving practical tips there. Now, there was one blog post that caught my eye and which you actually talked about setting your generosity priorities and giving the clergy some really good tips on three things that you can do right now to encourage and promote generosity in your congregation. I wonder if you could just help us walk through that today in terms of 1, 2, 3 so that we can give our listeners here today some really practical things that they can actually go off and probably try this week in particular. These are really easy low hanging fruit stuff.
CESIE: Yeah. Absolutely.
KENNY: So, the first one that you talked about is thanking people who gave for the first time or unexpectedly. What’s that about? How is that helpful and literally what can someone do when when that happens?
CESIE: Well, let me start off by saying that there is competition for all resources these days and for all giving. And people who do the ‘thank you’ really well, they are the ones that people remember. So, it is sort of a pet peeve of mine that the church I think in general does a really poor job of thanking people because we’re still in that old mindset of ‘well, it’s their responsibility, it’s what they’re supposed to do’. Yes, that’s true, but that doesn’t mean you don’t use your good manners. And, as your mom or your grandma said, ‘Please write a thank you letter’. So, especially when someone is new to the church and this is their first time giving, you should have a letter, a first-time letter that said ‘I noticed that you gave to our church for the first time, and I just can’t tell you what a difference that would make.’ because I know from my own experience. When I’ve gone to a church or when I have given to something especially related to the church and I’ve written a check out the whole nine yards and there’s crickets. Nobody acknowledges it. It’s not even recognized. So, that to me is really critical that a pastor just takes a moment to say, “Wow. I noticed you.” That’s the other thing. It’s a ministry to be able to say, ‘I noticed you.’ I might not have had a chance to meet you in church, but I noticed that you gave and I want to thank you for coming to our church and I want to thank you for giving.
KENNY: That’s awesome. Some of the pastors that I’ve talked with when we bring up the old art of thank you notes and a side note, do you say that pastors should be writing handwritten notes or type notes or emails? What’s your preference?
CESIE: Basically, I think all three are fine. But, just do it. I mean, the method that’s easiest for you. That’s what you should do. I love getting a handwritten note. That’s always nice because it’s so unexpected, if anything and I think a typewritten note is nice if at the end you write, you know, God bless you, Pastor John and then on the letter itself, write a little special note in your own handwriting. So, they know actually a human touched the letter. And then, make sure somebody has a handwritten envelope because we get so much junk mail that when something comes in the mail that has actual handwriting on it, ‘Wow, that’s pretty impressive’. So, I think the best is to go first-class mail, if that all possible because then that’s something that people can hold. They might even put it on the refrigerator. That would be the big bonus. So, that’s my suggestion. Make sure that they feel like somebody has put their hand on it.
CESIE: Go ahead and do email, too because you know, any thank you is better than no thank you.
KENNY: That’s a great thing to have. So, the pushback I was getting at is some pastors say, ‘Hey, some people the first time they give they don’t give that much’. It might be $5. It might be just $10. It a might be just a couple of dollar and literally, it might be one or two dollars in the offering plate or might be a check for $5 even, right? So, it feels petty, thanking for those. Should they still do that?
CESIE: Yes, of course. If your grandma sent you $5 in the mail, you would be expected to write her a thank you note, even if it was just $5. and I think we go back to looking at the Widow’s Mite. I mean, the widow didn’t throw in a lot of money but was everything she had. So, don’t make those assumptions for somebody else that they could have given more money. Maybe, they could have, and maybe they’re waiting to see how you respond to that first gift to say ‘Well, should I invest more money in this church’.
KENNY: That’s a great great response there and I agree with you in that. It’s not about the amount. It’s about participation and it’s about recognition of what they’ve done, right? Okay the second tip that you have and I think is this one. I love this one because I’m one of those process-oriented guys in this schedules. When you say, schedule-a-day, every week you can write, four gratitude notes. And, you’re not asking 40. You’re just saying 4. I think I could do that. I could actually put that on my calendar and schedule it on a weekly basis and pick a day that it’s good in your routine and actually do that. So, tell us a little bit more about that. How important is that for follow through? What has been the response for some of the people that you’ve used that with?
CESIE: Well, I am surprised. Let’s just put it that way. First of all, it’s like. ‘Wow. I wasn’t expecting a thank you note’. This is not for a recent donation or a recent tithe. It’s just to thank people. We did this once. A variation of this was at our administrative council meeting. We passed out thank you letters. We passed out notes from the church and said that at our ad council meeting tonight, we talked about how thankful we were for people. I am thankful for you because… And people wrote that out. People got great responses. Some people were just like, ‘Why did you do that? Is there some ulterior motive?’. We’re like, ‘No! We’re just thankful that you gave.’ And I think that’s when we’ve received those kind of letters from our pastor, it’s like ‘Wow, that really means something’. We have a male pastor, right now. So, he was actually thinking of me, you know. He was thinking about us and it wasn’t so much for, ‘Thank you for your $50’. It was ‘Thank you for being a generous person’, ‘Thank you for thinking of us because we know that you can give to a lot of places but your generosity makes a difference’. And that’s the other thing that those gratitude notes can do. They can let people know how the money is being spent or how you know, it’s like, ‘Your generosity made one thing possible. It made Youth Development possible’. You know, it makes a difference. So, yeah. It really can do two things. It can thank the giver and it can let them know what their money is doing.
KENNY: I just love your reminder in this blog, that say, ‘Hey, think about over the course of the year, if you do four a week, it adds up to the 208 people that you thanked over the year’. Just imagine the blessing that you are giving to other people. I think we forget about those little things add up, right?
CESIE: Yeah, they do. I think they do make a difference, right? And, the other thing is they make a difference for you. So, you start right. I suggested 1 year for Valentine’s Day that a clergy person write little goofy Valentine’s cards to their congregation. And even if it wasn’t personally, somebody would say, the pastor got a letter back saying, after I said ‘thank you so much, you mean a lot to me’, you know what, I started falling in love with my congregation again. So, it’s not only the act of how it impacts the person receiving the note, it’s how it’s impacting you as you write the letter because you’re like, ‘wow, this people are really awesome. What a blessing to have them in my life’.
KENNY: And I am telling you, I am pulling out my desk, I just got this Thanksgiving. This is a box of, I went to Target, and I got this box of cards. All these multi-colored cards and look from Thanksgiving ‘till now, how many cards are written, I’m almost quarter way through the box already. How many cards it is, it’s over 250 cards and some a quarter way through, just writing thank you notes. That’s a practice that the church that I have been a part of has been really instilling. Every volunteer is giving up their time and treasure and volunteers are heroes, especially. So, givers and volunteers.
CESIE: I guess it needs to be emphasized. They don’t need to be long and drawn out. I mean, really. 2 or 3 sentences is all that it takes. And then, the fact that it’s handwritten again, that really makes a difference.
KENNY: Yes and I’m just even saying that they’re an encouragement to you in the ministry, right? That’s it. That’s the sentiment. Number three you’re talking about is every Sunday, you want to plan to thank your congregation for being generous and for supporting ministries that make a difference. And I love that underscore, yes every Sunday, it’s the same people every Sunday. Are we supposed to thank them again and again and again?
CESIE: Yes, but you can also be creative. It doesn’t have to be you. Let me just go back and say why I think this particular one is really important. When our new pastor came in, our church was sort of on a down low. People were pretty depressed. And, he came in and his first thing was to remind us of who we were. So, he talked about the history of this church. It is 175 years old and then wow, I kind of forgotten we had this sort of history. We really meant something to the city of Salem. And then, he started talking and thanking us for being a generous congregation. It’s like, wow, he didn’t say it just once. I think it was like every Sunday, he would say something about, you know, you all are really generous. And goodness. We started thinking of ourselves as being generous, and if he thinks we’re generous, then we better be generous. And so, that’s why that was so important to do. I mean and I think it really helped change the trajectory of our church. Felt about itself, and how we felt about giving. So, that is what’s really important. The clergy person does not need to be the one that does all the thanking. This is where the old fashioned testimony can come in where somebody can come in and you know, somebody who’s being ministered to by the programs that are going on in the church. A youth, a kid in Sunday School, somebody who goes to an AA meeting at your church can come in and say, ’I want to thank your church for its generosity’ or ‘I want to thank this congregation for being so generous to make youth ministry possible so that I can go to it’, ‘Thank you for making this building available so I can go to an AA meeting’, ‘Thank you for letting me go to Sunday School’. There are so many ways that you can do this. So, it doesn’t just have to be you. It might take a little bit of time, but yeah every Sunday, you should be saying thank you and thank you for being generous and here’s how you’re being generous. It’s not some flip thing. It’s not some saccharine. It’s genuine because really without your congregation, ministry couldn’t happen.
KENNY: And right there, I think, because of our culture is so opposite to that notion, I just love the idea of our leaders and our people modeling that for our own congregation and community, especially the youth, right? So, that this effervescent culture of generosity just becomes contagious. And it really becomes integrated in our personalities, right?
CESIE: Absolutely. You know, one thing I loved was that a pastor have a Sunday School write all these thank you notes and had it really pretty. And then, what he did was he put it on the church letterhead, so it could say, thank you. And then he had fabulous thank you notes straight from his own youth and children to thank people randomly. So, it was really a great way to do it.
KENNY: Loved that idea. Cesie, I just loved the fact the your blog has full of more practical ideas like this. You’ve got I think some other things like a stewardship calendar. Tell us and give a plug for your blog because I really love the stuff that you are doing over there.
CESIE: Well, thanks. Once again, remember that my primary job is to be a development person and so what I’m trying to do is share with you the secrets of development and what I’ve learned over the years, what I’ve read in blogs, what I read all over the place. So, that’s the reason that I started this blog was just to share my secrets. And so, I talked about all sorts of things related to development whether that’s preaching about generosity, that’s the other thing because I know that’s clergy are really afraid of that. Or can be whether you should know what your people are giving, storytelling that was last week’s blog was on storytelling, what you can learn from certain things that happened. I did one recently on the Academy Awards Fiasco and what you can learn from that. So, it’s all over and I talked about about a very popular one was when Prince died, talking about leaving your will, making sure you have a will in place because sadly Prince did not have a will in place. So, it’s reaching all over the map about development and ways in which you can inspire generosity in your very own congregation.
KENNY: Perfect. Well, Cesie, I hope you can join us join us again for a future episode. There’s so many other topics that I’d love to have you share your expertise on here at Generosity Labs.
KENNY: If someone wants to get in touch with you directly after listening to today’s conversation, what’s the best way to do that? Carrier pigeon, telegraph, email, Skype, what’s the best way?
CESIE: You can write me at email@example.com that’s my email address for Inspiring Generosity, so feel free to do that. My blog you can find it on UMOI.org along the blogs and so I would love to be in conversation with you.
KENNY: Thank you so much. Cesie Delve Scheuermann. Really a treat to talk to you and future conversation you promised here on air so, I’m going to hold you to it. And we will have future chats about stewardship, development, grant writing and all this other fun stuff.
KENNY: Thank you so much and for the rest of you, please let us know if today’s conversation is helpful. Like this podcast episode and drop some comments to let us know your thoughts and questions, so that we can follow up on them and tell a friend or two about our Generosity Labs podcast if you get a chance. Thanks so much, I am Kenny Jahng from Generosity Labs podcast. ‘Til next time. Be good.
I don’t know about where you live, but I have been seeing pumpkin spice infiltrate the beginning of September where it has no place of belonging.
It seems like retailers everywhere are injecting pumpkin spice into anything they can.
People have jumped the gun. This isn’t good. There is a time and season for everything. Pumpkin spice should be reserved for October.
There ARE things you should be thinking about NOW regarding events that happen later in Fall. Like on November 28, 2017.
It’s called #GivingTuesday.
There’s so much potential with Giving Tuesday, which is the first MONDAY AFTER Black Friday. This year, it falls on November 28.
If you’ve never thought about involving your church in a #GivingTuesday campaign, think again. Just take a look at some of the giving-related stats for GivingTuesdayin the past and you’ll soon be convinced you need to consider it this year.
We’ll be talking about #GivingTuesday here on the blog. Let us know if you’ve started planning for it.
Type YES in the comments if you have. Type NO if you haven’t thought about it at all yet.
Recently, we sat down with Dean Sweetman ofTithe.lyto discuss the state of giving. In our discussion, we went how churches can find and use best practices when it comes to cultivating generosity.
Here are a few highlights:
[3:31] In ministry, we live on a budget and the budget has its forecast of regular revenue that comes in and whether it be weather-related cancellation or holidays or people just not showing up at the church on a weekly basis anymore on our culture.
[4:09] A lot of pastors don’t think business-mindset when it comes to church in giving. I think the shift that has to come to the body of Christ coming to mind is “I’m gonna run it as a business, I’m gonna use best business practices and to do that, I’ve had to have some kind of a way of projecting my income.”
[4:57] When you put on anywhere, anytime giving solutions in people’s hand it changes the whole dynamic.
[5:38] More than 50 % of the contribution that come in by a mobile are over 250 dollars. So, people, they are not scared to give with their phones. They’re actually okay to give big money. 18% of our contributions, a thousand dollars plus, we get a contribution of 50,000 dollars via text message so it’s a no-brainer.
[6:23] Everybody is pretty much there on trusting the mobile device being a point of sale and it’s just a matter of the church, instead of being behind that curve, staying in front of that curve.
[7:13] Digital giving is definitely three times the size the amount of the contribution. I think that’s the couple of things I think it’s the convenience it’s the easiness of people giving, but you’re also hitting the demographic that’s pretty affluent and surely doesn’t having problems that making contributions today.
[9:13] We found the people who are not wanting to give is that the church has made people give number one on a Sunday. And, they have to give a checkbook or cash. Well, millennials, 35 or under don’t know what a check account is, don’t know what a checkbook is. My kids don’t and you know, they don’t carry cash. Everything is debit card or credit card. So, it’s giving people the solution to be how to do it and then, use it by and in their vacation, listening to a church’s podcast, get a message, they looked in the calendar in the app whatever and then next kind of normal thing to do is to make their contribution.
[10:16] Once we tied in with the data, we found that across all these and we’re talking, tens of millions of dollars, ⅓ is on a Sunday, ⅔ is on Monday through Saturday
[12:35] Looking at the months of the year, the summer slump which is classic, like schools are getting out everyone is excited, but the pastor is not excited because he knows during the summer, his income gonna go down up to 30%. So, what happens is when you put again a mobile giving solution in the hands of the members, guess what? They’re going to use it and so what we see is the out numbers actually stay firm and our July-August is actually up and so, people when they have the ability to give with their phone, they are going to give even when they’re out of town and on vacation.
[15:40] Other than the solution, providing tools, the other component probably the most key is education.
[16:37] The whole concept of Christianity is built around generosity, right? We’re taught in the New Testament to be generous with everything.
[16:51] So, whether you have a theological issue with tithe, let’s just put that aside for a second and decide that Jesus has taught us to be generous people. And I think that message can be preached, you know, if not on a weekly basis, certainly on a monthly basis, somewhere around the giving moment, you’re instructing your members about generosity and using the Bible to teach on God’s perspective on generosity.
[19:16] There’s the idea of getting people in the mindset of giving consistently. And if you can get people in that mindset to give consistent our numbers show that 85% of the people who give regularly, providing half the budget and 15% who give regularly provide the other half.
[21:47] If you search and dig and pray and ask the Holy Spirit to lead you into the Scriptures on what they say about money, you will be many many hours and days and getting great revelations of what the Bible says about finance. So, it’s willingness of the minister to get the revelation first.
In today’s episode of the Generosity Labs podcast, we interview Joseph Sangl who is on a quest to help pastors get over their fear about talking about money. He is the founder of I Was Broke Now I’m Not.
Key points in the discussion:
How does a pastor bring up the taboo subject of money with his preaching?
What are some take-aways to add into a pastor’s sermon about giving and generosity?
How powerful and important is an offering prep?
4 Resources About Financial Management
You can listen, subscribe or watch my interview with Joseph below.
Reach out to Joseph Sangl on iwasbrokenowimnot.com
CHECK OUT WWW.GENEROSITYLABS.ORG for more episodes, blog articles and more resources about giving and generosity.
KENNY: Good day everybody. This is Kenny Jahng coming at you again and today, in the hot seat, we’ve got a good friend Joe Sangl. Thank you so much for being with us, Joe, today.
JOE: Fired up. Thanks so much brother.
KENNY: It is great to be with you especially because the conversation that we’ve been having with a lot of churches in the past recently center around the taboo topic of money. Giving and money. And I know that you are in that space. You’re talking about that everyday, actually. So, why don’t you share with our audience a little about who you are, what you do and how you help churches in particular.
JOE: My name is Joseph Sangl. And I founded an organization called I Was Broke, Now, I Am Not. and I’d like to say people, if you’re saying now, he is broke? You’re failing grammar class and it’s not fun being broke. And I got unbroke and I did it by following God’s Word and applying His principles. And as I went through the process, I have an Engineering degree from Purdue University, got my MBA, and I was still broke. And I was wondering, “Was it that difficult?” And I realized, I was thinking too hard that it’s really the reading of God’s Word and the application of it. I started finding all the scripture about money. And I’ve found out that God’s Word is not silent on it. But, my pastor had been silent on it. Therefore, I was educated by all those great marketers from Madison Avenue and I spend it all. I have the spiritual gift to making money disappear and I got deliverance. And I am on a one-man quest to help pastors get over their fear in talking about money because all their people, they make money decisions all day long.
KENNY: So, let’s get into that because I think it’s still even today in 2017, a little bit of a taboo topic for these pastors and church leaders that we’re talking to, they’re afraid to bring it up. They feel like they’re begging for money. They feel like it’s out of place. It’s not an etiquette. In fact, I’ve had lunch with a pastor this week who said, he literally doesn’t have any data on how much money people give in his church. They put up a security wall, so that he literally doesn’t know. So, what is the first step? If people here listening today want to embrace a culture of generosity, how do they bring up money and tithing and giving if they’ve never preached on it before, right, which is very possible, they don’t do it in classes, or workshops or seminars, or even in the bible studies, what’s the first step? How do you bring it up for the first time the pulpit or from the stage?
JOE: That’s a great question and I would say, they need to start with the “Why”. Why do they want to talk about it because if it’s just to get them to give, that’s not appropriate “why”. If it’s, I want to teach them about what God’s Word says about all of money, giving but also saving, debt, planning, investing, if I want to see them win and fund the dreams God has placed in their life and be able to fund the shared dream of the church, then, when they get to that place if that is their why, then, that’s when they need to approach the church with it. A lot of pastors, when they hear us say, “You need to preach on money.”, they immediately, something about that word replaces it with the word with ‘giving’ — preach on ‘giving’. But, that’s only, you know, 10%. If you’re giving, preaching the tithe, that’s only 10% of the resources God has placed in their hands. You need to make sure you speak to the entire pocket, the other 90%, as well. And so, I would start by talking about their goal as a leader to help people live a fully funded life, being able to do exactly what God has called them to do, regardless of its cause or income potential and then, go from that point. I am going to talk about giving, yes, that is God’s Word. We should be givers. I will talk about the rest, too because I also want to help you live the best and only life you have.
KENNY: I love that. That is such a critical insight. That, if you’re preaching on giving, you’re only talking about 10% of their daily living of what they go through, you need to talk about the holistic aspect. Now, some people have an allergic reaction to thinking that money and stewardship is a part of spiritual discipline. What’s your take on it?
JOE: I just say, how can you say you love the Lord and not be a giver? How can you say He died and paid the ultimate price that we can have liberty? And you know, I have heard one said, “How can I stare at the blood-stained cross, and say what is the minimum of I can give?” You know what I’m saying? So, Jesus said in Matthew 6:21, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” And if you say you love the Lord, if you say your heart is with the Lord, it will compel you to be a giver.
KENNY: In terms of preaching, you were saying that, “Hey, look, we’re not going to talk about actually giving to the church. That is not the focus or the end goal or the call to action at the end of the first time you’re talking about it.” What’s the take-away of that first talk, the first sermon someone’s going to give?
JOE: I think the take-away is to ask the question, “Are you truly honoring the Lord with everything He has placed in your hands?” And I would challenge every person within my church to spend an hour this next week reviewing their last month’s spending. Pull out their credit card statements, bank statements and say, “In an audit, when someone convicts you, which means having them found guilty of, living a generous life and being a wise manager.” I am going to start there. I love the story that Jesus shares in parable to talents in Matthew 25:14-30, where it talks about the three manager. And it says in there, each according to their ability they’re giving different amounts. If people want more to manage, increase your ability to manage it. It says, the Lord pays attention to that.
KENNY: Got you. Shifting gears a little bit. About the specific offering, one of the things that I’m a bit proponent about, and I think that people miss is that the offering part of the service is one of the most strategic moments of your ability to influence the daily living of your congregants. How powerful can that be? Have you seen any tangible differences when people pursue that?
JOE: Absolutely. There’s a massive difference. Some people called it an offering prep. But, really, it is an opportunity to speak about money 52 times a year in a positive, productive and spiritual principle manner. And we encourage people to change it up each week, so it doesn’t blend into the woodwork. Many churches have fallen into a routine, and it’s, “Oh yeah, we need to do that.” But really, giving is one of the most tangible forms of worship that we can do. It is really us, saying, “I can give this and believe that with God’s blessing on the rest, I can live a better life.” It’s the tangible form of saying that I trust the Lord. And so, I want to encourage every leader that’s listening to this, watching this is that you should think through and spend as much time planning the offering moment as you do in planning the message. It’s that important.
KENNY: And one of the biggest hesitations is that if you are constantly putting up calls-to-action about giving and money that the reaction is being negative, you’re going to be seen as someone who’s greedy and self-serving. How do you avoid that perception on the receiving end?
JOE: So, again, if the leader feels like that is what they’re doing, then, they are probably doing that they need to re-evaluate their why. But on the other side, the way you speak about giving, it needs to be about the mission and the vision and how giving has helped accomplished it. And being into the attitude of gratitude to tell people, “I’m so grateful to you’ve chosen to be part of the vision here at Cornerstone Church, at Crosspoint Church. Let me tell you how your giving a dollar makes a difference in our community and connecting the dots that these dollars really have equal life change.” And when you do that, it actually encourages people. It helps them understand that there’s a return of investment, an ROI here. And they know for a fact, this is the greatest place that I can give my dollar.
KENNY: Tell us a little bit more on your ministry in particular, how you actually help churches accomplish that tactically and logistically. What other resources that you are able to derive?
JOE: Well, I feel like there are four spokes of the wheel that fund churches. And we’re serving all 4 of them. One is personal stewardship. With I Was Broke, Now I Am Not, we have personal finance group studies, think of Dave Ramsey’s Type studies. I go on sites, teach stewardship messages, teach 2 hour classes. And then, have DVD based studies resources. The next one is InJoy Stewardship Solutions. That’s capital campaigns. That’s the sacrificial pocket. You know, that time of sacrifice come and go. And that helps churches raise big time money when they’re raising half of the year’s the budget or more. That’s when we can help. And then, the third pocket is the regular giving pocket. And I started that with somebody you and I both know, Michael Lukaszewski, an organization called Fully-Funded. It’s an online coaching membership where churches have gathered together, learning how to implement regular giving systems within their church. The fourth pocket is Estate Planning and that’s talking to people about their assets and what they’re going to do with them when they leave. And how they can still have kingdom impact even beyond their after life. And so we help in those all four categories and the greatest place to start really is a conversation with I Was Broke. Now, I Am Not or with InJoy Stewardship Solutions or Fully-Funded whichever category a pastor needs. We love to help them with that.
KENNY: Most of the churches in this country now, in the State of the Union is that over 50% of the churches are a hundred or less in attendees.
JOE: That’s right.
KENNY: And then, you’re probably talking solo pastor ministries, right? Is the pastor himself/herself the one that really should be the spokesperson, the steward, the facilitator of this conversations or is it a treasurer, a finance person, volunteers, an elder or somebody else that should be the point person for these types of conversation?
JOE: That’s a great question. And the right answer is it depends. It depends upon the past culture of the church and how people respond to that culture. So, if the pastor feels confident talking about money and can answer those questions, then, it should be the pastor, you know, their kind of CEO of your church. They’re the public face of the ministry. They are the chief vision-caster in most cases. So, it’s most compelling when it’s from the leader. However, many pastors in smaller churches have a very strong business leader, who’s a leader of their board, who can speak very eloquently on this topic. It can be a very wise shepherd, helping people honor the Lord with their resources. So, if that’s the case, then, it’s okay if that person as well.
KENNY: I am really glad that you’re both advocating depending on the context. This past week I had lunch with a pastor who shared with me that he literally does not know any of the finances of his church. Is that wise? Is that something that you think that needs to be cordoned off, you know, the pastor, he’s deep in the Word, preaching in his ministry and the rest of the flock are concerned about the business of the church, the expansion of the church, etc. what’s your opinion on that?
JOE: I would argue strongly, the pastor should know. Proverbs 27:23 says, “A Shepherd knows the status of his flocks.” The pastors and shepherds and giving is an absolute outward sign of a person’s heart condition. I know in some cases that if the pastor knows they would be fired. So, if that’s the case, I would want to get the pastor fired. I would say, someone must know. And I would start by saying, “Anybody who’s on staff or in a key volunteer leadership position, somebody needs to know that they’re giving generously.” Plus, everything rises and falls on leadership. John Maxwell, right? And if the leader and the leaders of the church are not leading the way in this thing called generosity, you can not expect for that mission, that vision to be fully funded.
KENNY: Wow, that’s pretty powerful. I think it’s a good guidance, too. And I think it also always comes down to the confidence of the pastor. Many pastors are not, right? Seminary didn’t change us like an MBA, like you and I have. It’s a part of the profile that a pastor needs to understand. Where do they go for resources to become up to speed on the financial aspect of the business?
JOE: I would say every single pastor can sign up for our online class for free. And so, I Was Broke, Now I Am Not has a year-long course with coaching, mentoring and lessons and I would give it to any pastor, senior pastor, that contacts us. We would give it to them for free. And I’ll answer their questions. My passion. You know, there are too many broke pastors. And most pastors, especially those of the 200 or less, 100 or less, they don’t go in the ministry to make millions of dollars. They do it because of passion and calling. Most of them don’t have any vacation and are very tired. And my goal is to be able to help them become liberated in their finances so that they can solely focus on God’s calling. And finances, generally, is the number one barrier from that church growing to the 500 mark.
KENNY: I love it. And that’s what I love about your ministry. Your heart really comes through authentically. That’s where your passion is. You really want to help that pastor, the leader get a hold in their own finances, so that they can actually focus on all the other things in ministry as well.
KENNY: Thank you so much for stopping by. If someone wants to get in touch with you personally, what’s the best way to do that? Social media, email, website? Give us your digits here.
JOE: Go to iwasbrokenowimnot.com Just Google it. I Was Broke Now I Am Not. And click Contact Joe. That will go right through me and my team and we’ll be in touch very soon. We’d love to help any leader to be able to fund vision. It’s our passion.
KENNY: Thanks so much Joseph, really to stop by and hope some time to revisit with us later to go deeper in some other topics. But, I love what you’re doing and everything that you do for the kingdom.
JOE: Thanks for the opportunity. So blessed. Thanks Kenny.
The Generosity Labs Podcast is part of a new resource hub for pastors, providing free resources and information about digital giving. You can find more free resources here. A full transcription is below
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White coats? Beakers? A little smoke and occasional explosion! Needles, knives, tweezers, and other tools?
The dictionary tells us that a lab is “a place providing opportunity for experimentation, observation, or practice in a field of study”. An experiment is “a test for the purpose of discovering something unknown”.
So let’s use Generosity Labs to talk about a few real world giving experiments we’ve been up to over at Tithe.ly. Sound good?!
Lab coats. Check.
Protective eye wear. Check.
Experiment #1: Will Mobile Giving Grow Overall Giving?
It’s not uncommon for us to hear from churches that they have “online giving”, but there is a very big difference between “online giving” and “mobile giving”.
You see, most of the time “online giving” requires people to go to their laptop which is sitting at home. Meaning, instead of giving in the moment of the offering at church, the person has to remember to crack open their computer and get online when they get home. The chances of that happening is fairly slim because people fellowship after church, go to lunch, attend their kids sporting activities, spend time with family and countless other things. Then, the go home. Tired 🙂 Next Sunday rolls around and they are listening to the offering thinking “shoot, I was going to give online after the last service!”.
Mobile giving, on the other hand, allows people to take part in the worship and give right in the offering moment or while the plate is being passe.
Michael Morris, Sr. Pastor at Cornerstone Community Church in the rural mountains of Virginia launched Tithe.ly about six months ago. Prior to Tithe.ly his church only had online giving tools avail for members to give.
He rolled out true mobile giving through Tithe.ly and the early results are impressive. Here’s what Pastor Morris has to say …
“After launching Tithe.ly, we quickly saw our giving trends change. We now have 34% of all giving occur from mobile, which is a big increase from our previous solution. Another positive benefit is that 41% of our online giving is recurring giving, meaning that our giving is now more consistent week after week.
After the first quarter, the church is ahead of budget by 2 entire weeks! This is the first time the church has ever been ahead of budget during the first quarter. Based on the current average for 2017, we should exceed our annual budget by $50,000.
Conclusion: When put in the hands of members, mobile giving does, in fact, increase giving.
Experiment #2: Does the Summer Giving Slump Have to Happen?
The summer giving slump is a real thing in the church world.
What is it, you ask?
For many years there has been a direct correlation between attendance and giving. If people miss church, they don’t give. It’s seen most dramatically in the summer months. People go on vacation, have family in town, stay out and wake up late, etc. So, from May through August, many churches in the U.S. see giving “slump” (aka decline) due to attendance dropping.
It’s been reported that the average decline is between 20 – 30%!
Based on the historical trend, many churches simply plan for this in their annual budgeting process. The scale back programs, activities, and other costs in order to keep cost during the summer inline with income.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Check out the chart based on Tithe.ly giving research below.
The line represents the normal giving pattern for many churches in the U.S. That’s the summer slump!
The bars in green represent what churches using Tithe.ly see during the summer months. You don’t even have to look closely to see that there is NO SUMMER SLUMP for churches using Tithe.ly. Giving actually steadily grows through the summer.
Conclusion: When you give people mobile, text, and online giving tools so they can give whether they are in church or away, giving doesn’t suffer during the summer months so you don’t have to plan for the “summer slump”.
Experiment #3: WIll People Give Big Gifts Online?
It’s not uncommon to hear church leadership share opinions about online giving being for small gifts. Somehow, church leaders have been convinced that people won’t give big donations through a mobile giving app or online giving solution.
But, is that true?
The data suggest this is, in fact, a myth!
54% of gifts given through the Tithe.ly digital giving platform are over $250 with 18% being over $1,000! I wouldn’t put those in the “small gift” category, would you?
Conclusion: Although popular opinion suggest online giving is for smaller gifts, the data shows that this isn’t true. People are comfortable giving big!
Experiment #4: Do People Prefer Using their Bank Account Over Credit/Debit Card for Giving?
Let’s start with a disclaimer: We are NOT in favor of anyone using debt to give or otherwise going into debt. That goes completely against the biblical call to be good stewards of the resources that God has entrusted to our care. We understand that this heart is the heart behind churches wanting to not allowing giving by way of a credit card.
The thing is, people, your members, prefer giving through a credit or debit card compared to using their bank account directly.
We don’t have any hard data to support why this is the case, but we do have two anecdotal bit of evidence based on talking to a lot of people about it:
People do not want to attach their bank account to anything.
People like getting the points associated with using their credit card.
Conclusion: Card based giving is the preferred method for most individuals.
Experiment #5: Will People “Cover the Fees”?
Cover the fees™ is a handly little feature in Tithe.ly that allows the giver to help offset fees paid by the church to use Tithe.ly. Essentially, the giver can turn on Cover the fees™ and it will increase their donation amount slightly so that the church gets the full gift amount.
It’s a feature that, to be completely honest, we didn’t know would work or not, but we had a hunch and wanted to experiment a bit.
Much to our surprise, Cover the fees™ not only worked, it gets used in over 25% of all gifts made across the Tithe.ly platform.
Your turn …
You can take off your protective eyewear now 🙂
The experiments are done.
There you have it. Five real world generosity experiments that we’ve been running for some time, along with the data to back up the results. We’d love to hear from you in the comments below! What giving experiments have you run? Do any of the above stand out or do you find yourself questioning the data? Let us know.
Dean Sweetman For over 30 years, Dean has been involved in ministry and building businesses that support the work of the Church. He’s help plant over 50 churches and raised millions of dollars to spread the Gospel, equip leaders, and change lives. Now Dean spends his time focused on using technology to advance the Kingdom. When he’s not helping churches grow their giving with Tithe.ly he’s spending time with his family and new grandson!
In this episode of the Generosity Labs Podcast, we sit down with Cindy Petroff, the Director of Finance at Faith Family Church. Cindy has been serving at Faith Family for more than 18 years and has seen the landscape of giving change substantially
You can listen, subscribe or watch my interview with Cindy Petroff below.
The Generosity Labs Podcast is part of a new resource hub for pastors, providing free resources and information about digital giving. You can find more free resources here. A full transcription is below
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KENNY: Greetings podcast land. My name is Kenny Jahng and this is the Generosity Labs podcast. Generosity and giving as it relates to the church is one of the biggest and most important conversation we can have among faith communities. And, that’s why we’re here today with Cindy Petroff. So glad to have you on the show today, Cindy.
CINDY: Thank you for having me Kenny.
KENNY: You worked in many fields of accounting, I believe, including government and public manufacturing and now non-profit. I think you’re currently on staff there at Faith Family Church, leading the accounting department. I think you’ve been doing that for 15-18 years, now?
CINDY: Little over 18 years, yes.
KENNY: I’m sure you’ve seen the evolution and the growth and just different time periods of how the church has handled money and giving and generosity.
CINDY: Yes. From 18 years ago to what it is now today is literally different.
KENNY: Completely different.
KENNY: First, let’s just hear a little bit more about you, Cindy and the church.Tell us a little bit more about you and what your role really means for the church. Tell us also, what is your church community like? How many people gather on a Sunday? Who and what would we see if we came to visit in a service, sat in and take a look around on a Sunday?
CINDY: Faith Family Church is a rather large church. We’ve got, on weekends, anywhere between 3000 to 4000 people that regularly attends. We actually have a Saturday night service and a Sunday morning service. Because we do find a lot of people who prefer to come on a Saturday Night compared to Sunday morning. We got a real mixed crowd of people who attend here — from young people who have a great youth program to people who have been here since the church began. Myself, am the Director of Finance here. I have been in that position, different titles, but basically the same position for 18 years. So, I like to try new technologies and I like to sometimes, there are some hesitation with that. But, you know, I’ve really watched not only the church grow but also things evolved with time.
KENNY: One of the things I love hearing about your church in Ohio is that you actually brought onboard digital giving, introduced it to the church as a response to some of the younger generation there. Tell us a little bit more about. How did that start?
CINDY: Well, it started probably around 8 years ago when we first went to online giving. We have some of the younger people had said, “Why don’t we go to online giving?”. And, we really thought about it for a while because with me, I’m not a younger person. And I was like, “Oh, it’s credit cards; it’s debit cards.” We just had that hesitation about doing that. But once we went to the online giving, they create an app that people can use the app on their phones or log in to our website and give. And, I mean, a lot of people use it. It was popular, but it wasn’t like mind-blowingly popular. People either liked it or didn’t like it. And, 8 years ago, there was still a lot of hesitation from a lot of people to use online giving.
KENNY: Definitely. We’ve come a long way, right? If you look at even e-commerce as a whole, people don’t think about giving a credit card even on your mobile phone today for a purchase, buying stuff on the run is the norm for many Americans today. Tell us a little about your digital giving options today. So, you got online giving on your website. You said, you got a mobile app that you can give through a mobile app. Do you offer text-to-give as well?
CINDY: Yes. We do now offer text-to-give. We initiated that I would say, 2 and a half years ago. That one really came from our youth, in our really young college age kids. They had originally come to our staff and said, “We really like to be able to give by text.”
CINDY: “Everyone’s is using their phones now and we really like you to think about doing that.” Having been doing the online giving, it wasn’t as tough to make that transition. But, I would say that text-to-give has really been a popular choice.
KENNY: Have you seen that it’s only limited usage to the younger? And by younger, are you saying, under 20, under 30, under 40? What is the population are you thinking as the bulk of people who use text-to-give?
CINDY: I would say initially it was the younger 30 and under crowd that really jumped on board with it, right away.
KENNY: What about today?
CINDY: Today, we have all age ranges using it. We have some people that are in their 60s that were using online giving but they had to do their username and their password, and it was more difficult. So, with text-to-give, they literally just send a text with their giving, and they’re like, they really like it because it’s easy.
KENNY: Nice. What are you guys using for text-to-give?
CINDY: For online giving, we are using our database software which is Shelby Arena and, that’s our people database. And when people login to the online giving, they’re literally logging into that database and, they can see their giving records from there. For text-to-give, we’re using Kindrid, which is of course separate from that. But, it’s a great option and, it actually merges really great into Shelby Arena.
KENNY: Got you. Do you have it fully integrated or you don’t need to do extra manual data entry?
CINDY: There’s no data entry. But, what we do is we go to Kindrid and we export the files everyday and then, we just import them into Shelby Arena.
KENNY: Great. In that way, you have one place in all your people profile and histories contain.
CINDY: Yes. that’s true,
KENNY: Got you. What was one of the biggest challenges in adopting text-to-give in your opinion?
CINDY: One of the biggest challenges was getting people to understand how to text-to-give especially if they wanted it to be their tithe, if they wanted it to be the building, if they wanted it to go to one of our other children or whatever. That’s probably the thing that we are continually just reminding people of how that works because if you’re new to it, it can be somewhat confusing.
KENNY: Right. One of the hesitations that I’ve heard from many people who are exploring text giving solutions is that they’re scared that people’s giving rates will drop off. People are not comfortable writing a check versus text in amounts. They rather write the larger amounts via check and that they would not give that much via texting. Have you noticed any loss in terms of the average gift size or are you only receiving small dollar amounts via text?
CINDY: I would say that I’ve not seen anything drop off but someone who would normally give text-to-give, if they did have a particular large gift that they wanted to give, they might write a check for that. And we have many people who do use multiple avenues to give.
KENNY: Got you. Depending on their own preferences, like the flexibility.
CINDY: Yes. They may give weekly with online giving having set up as something that’s automatic. They don’t have to go in and do anything. It’s just every week or every month or whatever give this amount, but they want to give in to a special offering then, they may give text-to-give.
KENNY: One of the biggest obstacles that we have when talk to church teams is that the back office, the finance team, it’s not like you’re out there doing 2 hour lunches everyday, and just sun bathing, right? You got a full plate in terms of what you need to do. So, the hesitation of bringing in another service into the mix in your workflow, tends to be some resistance in some church teams. Just realistically, have you had to add any part time or full time to integrate the Kindrid solution, the text-to-give to increase that giving option. What type of extra resources have you needed in order to do that?
CINDY: Actually, it’s quite the opposite. Because we have a larger congregation, everyone was giving by check, we have so much more data entry that we have to do. So, by them doing online, which is just integrated in there and with the Kindrid, all we do is in one batch, import that into our system and post it. We save time — more people who use that actually saves us time.
KENNY: Interesting. So, you’ve got a church scenario wherein you have a huge proportion is check manually based entry. A text-to-give solution might actually be a good time saver. Is that what you’re saying?
CINDY: Absolutely. We went through and looked to see if someone’s giving by check. How many times does the accounting department have to touch that check or that envelope? And it was literally like seven times whereas in the text-to-give you’re importing it, posting it and you’re done.
KENNY: Got you. And you’re not doing it individually. It’s done in a batch. Everyone. It’s one file. A day that you export and import.
CINDY: Yes, that’s correct.
KENNY: Not in a manual and individual basis.
CINDY: Correct. The only thing you would have to do manually is when someone new gives that isn’t in your database. Other than that it’s literally a five minute process.
KENNY: Have you seen any optic in new givers embracing the text-to-give mostly or is it mostly just old time givers?
CINDY: I would say that as new people come in to the church that’s the way their giving is by text-to-give. Younger people, many of them don’t even have checking accounts or use checks. For them, they’re like, “Oh, I can do that. I can give” It’s so easy just to do it. First initial text-to-give and you’re setup. It’s so much easier than ‘Oh, I didn’t bring my checkbook’, ‘I don’t have any cash on me’. It’s a very great advantage.
KENNY: If you have a chance to talk to the people who are listening today who are considering making that leap into digital giving, what’s the one piece of advice that you would give them as they go into this whole decision process?
CINDY: I would say for and I’ve said this to people in the past for a text-to-give option, make sure that it integrates well with the software you’re currently using. Make sure that it’s something that you can import in and you’re not creating another data entry issue for your staff.
KENNY: Great piece of advice. It’s important to make sure everything works together, right?
KENNY: Thank you so much for spending a little bit of your time with us and sharing your experiences with digital giving. We’re going to end the interview with a lightning round of questions. Are you ready Cindy?
KENNY: So, the first one is, can you share one thing for the top of everyone’s list. Whether it’s a list of books, great books that they should be reading, website that they should be visiting, conferences that they should be taking note of or some other type of resource related to church and the vocation or ministry.
CINDY: I would say I recently read a book called The Leadership Triangle. And, that was really great. It’s by Ford Kevin and Ken Tucker. It was very helpful for me and really understanding our roles as leaders and how to involve everyone in some of your decision making.
KENNY: Nice. that’s a good one. So, what’s one thing that you’re looking forward to 2017 regarding the church?
CINDY: We are going to be opening a campus in 2017. In 2016, we opened some prison campuses and we’re doing those every week in multiple prisons. It’s an awesome program and we’re really looking forward to opening a campus somewhere that we’ll able to reach to our people.
KENNY: Wow. that’s exciting. That period of growth is stored whenever you’re adding another campus. That’s a great time to be a part of the church. Third question is, where are you getting your inspiration and education about donor development these days?
CINDY: I would say my inspiration is coming from our younger staff members. I’m a little older. I won’t say how much older. But, they have the pulse of the younger people. Sometimes, they bring ideas to me that I’ve never not necessarily even heard of and it gives me the information I need for the research.
KENNY: Just a whole story about your church. I love that repeatedly there’s so many examples of being open and listening to the community and being responsive to that. I think that posture is something that everyone really needs to take note of. I think it’s an awesome posture to have. You’ve shared so many good things today. If someone listening today wanted to get in touch with you, what’s the best way that they can do that today?
KENNY: Awesome. And that’s your website also, myfaithfamily.com?
CINDY: That’s correct.
KENNY: And that church is in Ohio. Thank you so much Cindy for being in the show today.
CINDY: Thank you Kenny.
Kenny: Thank you for our audience for listening to our conversation on digital giving and the church. If this episode has been useful to you, do me a favor and like and review this podcast episode today. It really helps us reach more church leaders across the country on such an important issue with the future of the church. Well, that’s a wrap. I’m Kenny Jahng for Generosity Labs. ‘Til next time. Check out our website at www.generositylabs.org. Remember learning to give with your heart is when the real giving starts.