Tune in to today’s quick episode of Generosity Labs with Kenny Jahng. Kenny discusses an article he found on REACHRIGHT that was 37 statistics that you need to know for 2019. Kenny focuses on three of those points related to tithing through digital giving to share his opinions on this topic.
Hey friends, this is Kenny Jahng and we are back again with another quick episode. I was surfing the web and came across this article on REACHRIGHT, 37 statistics that you need to know for 2019. 37 church statistics and it’s a really interesting round up of all different types of church that’s. And there’s a couple, three of them that I want to call out a number nine, they talk about small portion of tithers and I think it was really important to take note. They say only 10 to 25 percent of church members are tithing regularly. What does that mean? That means that the majority of people, 75 percent or more, you have an opportunity to really cultivate the discipline of tithing. This is something that I think you need to look at as a very positive opportunity in front of you. Number 10, outline something else that’s even better. Online tithing of those options boost the activity of tithing. Right? So a nonprofit source studies says that offering online tithing options, increased timing by 32%.
What does that mean? It means that the majority of people are not tithing right now that are coming to your church and one of the ways to increase them, the tithing activity is to actually just offer online tithing options. Digital giving is something that your church really needs to invest in and make as easy as possible. And, you will be rewarded for that. Basically, it’s well worth investing in online giving solutions. The next set of stats that is pointed out as in point number 15 in this article, and it basically is a little bit mind blowing, I think to a lot of people when you think about it. If you think about when people give to the church, you would think that most of the given activity happens on Sunday morning when the offering plate is passed. There’s a study here that says the single biggest day well of giving is actually not on Sunday. 67 percent of church donations happen throughout the rest of the week, Monday through Saturday.
It’s not actually on Sunday. When online digital giving options are present. That means people prefer to support and give to your church when it’s most convenient to them. And it’s not Sunday morning. It’s not by check, it’s not when the offering plate comes around. And so, it’s quite interesting to see this statistic in hard cold numbers and hopefully that will wake you up and your team to say we need to figure out how to make it as easy as possible for people to give and support the cause that they love and have affinity for. And that’s our church community. Another really interesting stat here that really supports the idea that you have to look outside of that offering plate on the one hour during Sunday morning is that 30% of the donations actually come in between the time periods of 9:00 PM and 6:00 AM.
Let me say that again. Thirty percent of donations to the church when you offer online giving is one of the options comes through 9:00 PM to 6:00 AM. People are giving online on the app mobile digital text giving. They’re doing the activity of supporting the church financially, not during the day, not on Sunday morning, but a significant portion of the people are actually rather do it in the evening or throughout the night or early in the morning. And so this really says, “hey, you need to embrace digital giving, you need to embrace online giving, you need to embrace text giving”. All of it is a must, because if you want people to give more and you want people to tithe more, these are three just sets of stats that I think you need to look at to start to really reconsider your giving and financial stewardship approach to making sure that your people have the options available to them, but also that your ministries are fully funded and supported so they can do what you’re planning to do throughout the rest of the year.
So that’s a quick roundup of a couple of stats from this great article. 37 church statistics need to know in 2019. I’d love to know your response and if you have any Aha moments listening to these statistics, it’s something that we need to really think about when we make data driven decisions usually gives us much better confidence. In terms of leaning into things that are new and uncomfortable and digital giving, mobile giving. That might be something that’s not something that you guys have embraced to dates. But we’ve turned the corner, we’ve turned the page into 2019 and here at Generosity Labs, we want to help you make those decisions and make those next steps into helping your congregation give in a way that lets your ministry flourish for the purpose of outreach, for the purpose of your community and for the purposes of exalting God and Jesus what He has in store for your community and the people that you are influencing throughout your zip code. So, my name is Kenny Jahng. This is the Generosity Labs update on the podcast. We would love for you to drop a comment on our blog. You could go to generositylabs.org or a fall on the podcast and let us know what you want to hear about in terms of helping you flourish your digital giving and a culture of generosity across your ecosystem Thanks listening, catching you next time, have a Generosity Labs.
01:21 number nine, they talk about small portion of tithers and I think it was really important to take note. They say only 10 to 25 percent of church members are tithing regularly. What does that mean? That means that the majority of people, 75 percent or more, you have an opportunity to really cultivate the discipline of tithing.
01:49 Number 10, outline something else that’s even better. Online tithing of those options boost the activity of tithing. Right? So a nonprofit source studies says that offering online tithing options, increased timing by 32%.
What does that mean? It means that the majority of people are not tithing right now that are coming to your church and one of the ways to increase them, the tithing activity is to actually just offer online tithing options.
03:07 number 15 in this article, and it basically is a little bit mind blowing, I think to a lot of people when you think about it. If you think about when people give to the church, you would think that most of the given activity happens on Sunday morning when the offering plate is passed. There’s a study here that says the single biggest day well of giving is actually not on Sunday. 67 percent of church donations happen throughout the rest of the week, Monday through Saturday.
03:42 And that’s our church community. Another really interesting stat here that really supports the idea that you have to look outside of that offering plate on the one hour during Sunday morning is that 30% of the donations actually come in between the time periods of 9:00 PM and 6:00 AM.
This week we visited a landmark in the town, mainline denominational church.
The architecture was historic and beautiful. As expected, almost everything inside felt like a time warp. Homage to tradition and legacy. But not much evidence of evolving and contextualization with current culture.
There’s much sadness when stepping into these ministries that seem destined to become museums as this last generation of booomers and older disappear.
One of the things that I always look for is signs of the church giving its congregation options for giving.
Well there was no mention of text to give, mobile app given, or other mobile directs option to give immediately, the service bulletin did make reference to an online donation button on their website. “YES!” at least they do take donations online.
The next step would’ve been to make it easier for people to give in the service, not on the web. Finding the donate button on the church website and going to the process of giving online was tedious. This time consuming. And unnecessarily distracting from the worship service anyone would be sitting in.
That said, this church did have a bulletin insert which featured an option for people who do give electronically. You could use that quarter page insert to place into the offering basket as a symbol of your commitment to support the church financially.
I’ve seen this in a couple of churches before. There are two perspectives on how you can look at this practice:
The first way is to knowledge the awkwardness of receiving the offering plate and having other people see you pass it along without contributing anything. While you should not be concerned about how others perceive you, especially if you are actively giving to the ministry, there is a part of you that wants to make sure no one mistakes you as a slacker in the community! You get it, right?
The second way is to think of it from a very positive participation point of view. I think it is an interesting way to physically involve everyone that is giving during the offering time in the liturgy.
There is something to be said for the physical ritual of everyone putting something into a shared plate that gets passed around to every single person that’s part of the church body and membership. There is sort of a “Book of Acts beauty” to such as shared participation activity by everyone in the community.
Personally, I might consider using some sort of simple open ended question form that captures a prayer or space for encouragement to the ministry that people can write on the card that they drop into the Offering Plate during the physical giving time via check or cash.
In the end, I am encouraged that this church is offering some sort of digital giving solution for other people.
Let me know if your church does something similar or if you have seen this in the past elsewhere.
LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW TO SHARE WHAT YOUR CHURCH enough church leaders are talking about the nuances of embracing online giving with details such as the online giving placard for the offering plate.
One of the most common comments or hesitations that I hear from church leaders regarding adopting credit card giving pertains to credit card transaction fees.
Typically the price you pay for being able to take credit cards is usually about $.35-$.50 per transaction plus somewhere around 2.9% of the actual transaction amounts.
Ask any CFO, they hate that much money leaving the church without any other options.
Today, I had a chance to visit another church in my area.
They had a woman host the announcements and offering part of the Order of Service.
This church does offer texts to give as an option, but curiously did not push it or even mention it from the stage. So that’s not the part that they are doing well.
But I did hop onto their giving page which was printed on their giving envelope available in the back of seat pockets.
There, they had a FAQ list that stuck out when I was scanning the page:
WHAT THEY ARE DOING WELL
The question they decided to include asked:
Will 100% of my online giving go to the church?
And then they used that opportunity to explicitly list their transaction fees for taking credit cards online.
I think this is a great tactic to help address the internal concerns that usually come up arguing that by offering online giving, you will end up giving up a significant chunk of it to fees unnecessarily.
SIDE NOTE: This base argument is a fear-based and scarcity minded approach. Experience shows that overall giving increases as soon as they pull the trigger in offering credit card based giving options. You will receive more giving incrementally than the 2.21% utilized to receive funds through that channel.
WHAT THEY CAN DO BETTER
While it was great to be transparent about the transaction fee so that some supporters will proactively use other methods to maximize every penny of that goes to the church directly, I don’t believe it is then only or best counsel they can provide.
Pushing people to go to a physical check or cash methods in order to eliminate 100% of transaction fees seems odd and very shortsighted.
Instead I would reword that FAQ to contrast credit card giving versus ACH giving (giving via echeck). For this church, that’s only a 0.64% fee. Saving over 71% of potential transaction fees.
PLUS, most leaders don’t consider the cost of collecting cash and checks, sorting, counting and sending someone to physically deposit them. It doesn’t seem that you could do that for less than 0.64% of the cash & check collection amounts in most cases.
So I would also use it as an opportunity to reinforce the option of recurring. electronic giving.
Regardless, the tactic to appreciate here is how they explicitly shared the specific transaction amount credit cards would trigger.this allows them to present the options in the way that’s not guilt infused and puts the options in the hands of the giver.
Did you know that 41% of regular church attendees give to church consistently?
That’s less than half of your congregation. Alarming isn’t it?
Listen as Kenny Jahng discusses the State of the Plate of generosity amongst churches far and wide and how church leaders can bring solution to your weekly giving.
Check out the video below.
Hi there, this is Kenny Jahng with the Generosity Labs Podcast. Thank you so much for joining us today. One of the things that we have been getting questions about recently around here is the actual demand or the question really is do people really want to give outside of the offering envelope in terms of cash or cheque. Because one of the biggest rants that I’ve been having around here, Generosity Labs is that churches are stuck in the Stone Age, don’t understand that envelopes and cash are just not relevant anymore to most of the peoples that walk in their doors. And so I just want to refer back to an important, I guess landmark industry report that comes out on a periodic basis. It is the State of the Plate. And today I wanted to go through Brian Kluth’s work there, where they surveyed almost 1600 pastors, church leaders and lead people across the country. 1,596 people to be exact. And the survey asked these pastors, leaders and lay people’s from churches of all sizes and the types of churches varied as well. And one of the things that, the whole point of the report is to report on their church giving patterns and practices and I think we can learn a lot from just looking at some of the data that has come out of the State of the Plate report. I think the next one is going to be administered too. The latest report that we have is coming out at the end of 2016, but I think if you wanted to name this, it’s really the reality, the church giving is the name of the theme or the takeaway, right? It’s basically a way to Paul, to the church. Here’s a infographic that we produced in cooperation with a title State of the Plate.
And It’s what to call out some numbers that just struck me as we built this infographic. First one is 59 percent, so the majority of churches out there, if you are sitting in a church or you’re a church team or staff, 59 percent chances are you’re one of them. 59 percent of churches report declining or flat line giving. That’s in contrast with another study. I think it was by Giving Rocket at one point said 84 percent of churches are at or below budget. That means only 16 percent of churches have any sort of financial margin to do ministry beyond what they’re planning. This report here also says at 20 percent experienced giving decline of five percent or more. And I think they looked at five percent as being significant, right? So if you’re giving year after year is declining at a rate of five percent or more, it’s something to be concerned about if you’re not able to turn that pattern around, something’s going on with your giving behavior and that’s pointing to something deeper in the culture or DNA of your church, so that’s a gloomy outlook to begin with. Almost 60 percent of churches are declining or flat lines and 20 percent are actually saying, Whoa, we’re going downhill. We’re not just maintaining what we have, we’re actually going downhill. That means that you know, in 10 years you’re going to have a major issue, If you’re not doing anything here in five years and even in two years, 10 percent less money in the staff budget, in the ministry budget, in the outreach budget, and the missions budget that is something to take seriously right now.
Now let’s look at what’s happening on a Sunday, regular attendance, and we’ve all been talking about this for a couple years now and it becomes louder and louder. Regular attendance to a church no longer means that I go every Sunday. That’s what people are telling us in this report is confirmed. One third of members actually do not attend church on any given weekend. So if you’re looking at a church and you see their attendance numbers, you’ve got to think that those one third that actually are not here on any given some of the, you need to look at the larger community that this church might be responsible for and say that, wow, this is only two thirds of the people there. One-Third aren’t their peers, the bottom line this is the problem, that zero is the amount of giving received from people who missed church, especially if there no digital giving options available. That’s what has been happening in churches historically, right? If people don’t come to church or if a church is cancelled for some reason, whether it be weather related or anything else, and then you’re giving goes down for that month. And so that’s a critical problem but here on a normal, regular basis, one third of your members don’t attend church in any given weekend. That’s significant shift over the last decade or two as to what’s happening even in your closest, most inner concentric circles supporters and people in your community.
Regular no longer means I’m there every single Sunday. They’re just so many other competing things in our culture that happened. That’s enough fodder for a complete other podcast show, episode or blog posts, etc it’s another conversation. But here you can see only 56 percent of people in their twenties or thirties attend 90 percent or more of their Sunday services, only 56 percent, so it is not the norm anymore to go to church every single Sunday. Yet those are still the people that are your most committed and I think commitment is now being defined differently and that’s the challenge whether attendance is the way to define commitment and can you change the nature of your ministry so that physical presence is not the only way to be engaged and to receive and to minister to others, that’s again another conversation, but the norm now, right now, 56 percent of the young folks, 20’s and 30’s, they’re not attending 90 percent or more of the services. So along with attendance, obviously things are changing and shifting the way people give are not other consistent behavior either. Only 41 percent, give consistently on a weekly basis to the church. Whoa, 41 percent. If you had to guess without knowing that initially, I don’t know if I would have guessed that number was that low, that all less than half the people are giving on a consistent basis to your church.
So that means I think we need to be thinking about giving it a completely different way. We need to be talking about differently. We need to be experiencing differently. We need to presenting the options differently. In fact, 60 percent of attendees, according to this State of the Plate report, 60 percent of those in the 20’s and 30’s give only one or two times a month or even every few months. There’s not this need apparently, especially in the 20’s and 30’s, that generational band that they feel the need that they need to give their dollars every week. Now, it doesn’t mean that they’re not planning on it and it doesn’t mean that they are not giving enough to cover. But it does mean that giving is not a habit of if they come into church buildings, that they’re going to actually open up their wallets, their checkbooks, their credit cards, etc.
This is something that every church leader needs to really process and think about, even alone as well as a team. What does that mean? How does that change the offering time? How does it change the messaging that you give? How has it changed on the reporting and telling us stories of where their money goes in terms of flourishing for the gospel inside your building and outside of your building? Now these guys are giving elsewhere. They’re actually a healthy generation in terms of giving and supporting outside of themselves. You know, the bad reps that the millennials have in the 20’s and people in their 20’s and 30’s get is that they don’t give it all. They’re not helpful people. They’re not helping other, actually that’s not the case. 34 percent of churchgoers give to 4 or more organizations together and they do it consistently, right? So now you’ve got a culture where giving is thought of as a portfolio of giving, they’re looking and choosing cherry picking opportunities to support multiple organizations 4 or more, more than a third of the people there give or four or more different organizations consistently. And 80 percent of attendees, this is what’s showing that it’s actually happening in the church. Specifically, 80 percent of attendees gift to at least one other organization. The church is not the only share of wallet. There’s other organizations and entities and causes that are competing for the same dollars in the supporters wallet. And so this is just think about that. Hey, you’re not the only game in town. It’s no longer just obligation is enough. It’s no longer, this is the norm, this is the expectation.
The landscape has changed tremendously when you think that 80 percent of the people who give to your church and are actually giving elsewhere to begin with, most people are actually looking for meaning in how they give in the relationship and only 41 percent again are giving on a regular basis to church to begin with. So you’ve got to think about, hey, what’s going on? What are we doing wrong? Is there other ways that we can help boost up the rate of giving form from our people? Well, the first one to look at really is preferences. I know that cheques and I know that cash or the preferred method of receiving money for the church and you hear it all the time with church leaders, especially when you bring up credit card options because they say, hey, that 2 point something percent belongs to us, that 2 point something percent through, that’s the reason we’re not going to critic or giving because, you know, that money’s going elsewhere. But yet, digital is increasingly becoming the preferred method of payment. As we go to a cashless society and many, many churches, if not years in particular, are not helping out. They’re not giving that option on the table, which I think is just completely flabbergasting. You are mandating that people go backwards in their habits back to the stone ages of using cash only or cheques in particular and that’s the only way that they can support your ministry.
Now again, the question is, is this true or not? According to the survey, this backs it up in real numbers, only 14 percent surveyed want envelopes in the pews. Only 14 percent of people are going on these churches are giving through envelopes and that’s what they want. And you contrast that with the other portion, 68 percent of people when their church, they want digital options, they want a kiosk or ipad giving or some other digital option. The majority of people are saying to you right now through the survey, you don’t need to think about reaching out to your own people. This is a cross section of America. 68 percent want digital options like a kiosk or an ipad giving. What have you done to make it as easy as possible to collect those funds and revenue for your church? It’s just shocking how many people ignore that because they’re making some convoluted arguments about, you know, a couple of percentage points going to the credit card processing company. Now 49 percent wanting to give on a phone app. They want an actual mobile app for the church. And 54 percent just want cell phone texts giving options. So here you can say almost half or even more than half, they’re saying, hey, give us digital options, whether it be a phone app or texting. That’s the way we want to do it, and you might say, hey, we don’t really need that, we’ve got online giving on our website. Well, you know what, only 21 percent of people out there, we’re interested in online giving on the church website. So even if you had that choice, only 21 percent of the people out there expected it or trying to figure out how to fulfill their giving through a mobile phone app or cell phone text to give options. This is something that I think pastors and leaders need to begin to recognize. The importance of digital giving. that can be digital given by mobile, by text, by kiosk, by auto pay EFT payments, a recurring giving, it doesn’t matter. You need to start somewhere and pastors, leaders, are listening today. This is one of those rants or just a appeal podcasts, please, you know, you want to make the act of giving as accessible as possible to all church goers, even when they aren’t physically at the church.
I’m telling you, this is like prophetic. It’s going to be important for churches of all sizes and locations. You’re going to need to actively embrace digital giving methods very soon to encourage, to power greater generosity and more important that consistency in the act of giving amongst your church families. This is something that I just is so so important. 68 percent of the people are telling you they want digital options like kiosks and iPads. 54 percent are telling you they want text to give. 49 percent, almost half the congregation wanted given the full through, say a mobile app. they feel safe to do it in your churches mobile app somewhere. This is something that you need to start thinking about. And if you’re just offering a website alone, that’s not enough because only 21 percent of the people out there we’re interested in giving online on the church website and majority of people are looking elsewhere and you’re forcing them into a model that was made in the stone age and should stay in the stone age, envelopes and cash, cash, envelopes and cheques is definitely clearly here. Finally, we’ve got to study that, quantifies this, that is something that they do not want and so they are not giving at all.
So, those are just some examples of outcomes from the State of the Plate report that came out from Brian Kluth. It’s a very interesting survey. If you want to go further, you can Google it, state of the plate report and actually download the actual report. There’s a bunch of graphs and charts and things that will give you further details and nuances of the state of giving. But here I just want to end this episode with this reality of the church. This is a wake up call for us as leaders and this is one of the reasons why we started the whole resource of generosity labs, that it is time to take a look at digital giving, digital mobile text giving. All these options are something that you need to start to think about and embrace fully even before 2018 is out. Promise me this that you’re going to start to look at those options if you haven’t started already to figure out how to implement one more option for your church in the next month or two. How much more do you need than the people out there telling you in double digit majority numbers that they prefer to give a certain way. And yet you’re not embracing those types of methods. This is just something that you need to look at seriously with your leadership team and figure out, hey, is this something that we can move on and do so in a meaningful way this year so that we don’t get left behind. You definitely don’t want to be one of the, almost 60 percent of churches that are declining or have flat lined in giving.
So, we’d love to hear your thoughts about the State of the Plate report. Again, this seems to be a very good baseline comprehensive study to use as a conversation piece internally with your other pastors and leaders and even high capacity lay people of the church. So that you can start to talk about what does it mean for our church, given our size, given our constituents, given our giving practices that we typically have. What does that mean? Those are the types of things that I hope will start to be prompted in terms of questions because the opportunity and the prospects out there, if you were able to embrace digital giving is a completely different story and I’ll bring one of those stories to you shortly here on the Generosity Labs Podcast, but today it’s a wake up call, the reality of giving in the church is in decline, attendance is added decline. Giving is not consistent in their behaviors and so this is something that you need to look at because competition exists now with other regular giving opportunities. People are choosing, it’s not that they’re not giving it all and you’re just saying, hey, they’ve stingy behavior or they’re just not in a giving mood. No, they are giving, period, they are giving to 4 more other organizations or at least one other organization, 80 percent of the people who attend your church are giving to at least one other charitable organization. And so that means either they’re making the decision to split it or there’s more underlying deeper causes that we need to talk about and figure how to address and turnaround for the future.
Well, there you have it. That’s what I have for today. Again, prompted by some of the questions that had been coming up recently asking people, you know, we hear about digital giving, we hear about texting, you hear about mobile giving? But, isn’t that just all sales and marketing? Is that really what the people want? Isn’t really what the people in my church would want? Is giving them something that they would prefer as their primary method of transferring funds from their wallet to the church’s accounts for their offerings and tithes. If we made that easier, if we got rid of that friction, what would it mean for the church? Would it mean that we could be fully funded? Would it mean that we can have an overflowing offering basket at the end of the season? Those are things that I would love to see you guys struggle with. Discuss internally, hold each other accountable and start to explore what would have all the resources out there to help you make that next decision in terms of presenting giving opportunities for your people.
I’m Kenny Jahng. Thank you so much for listening to today’s episode of Generosity Labs. I would love to hear what your perspective is and what is the hangup in your progression and your journey in terms of adopting digital online text to give, mobile giving, whatever that next step is in your church. What is that obstacle? What is that question? What’s hindering you from taking the next step and not allow you to just completely blow it out and make all the options available to make it as easy as possible for your people to contribute to the mission and ministry of your church. Love for that question for you to respond in, check out our blog GenerosityLabs.Org. Do me a favor, if you are inspired or spurred on by our podcast episodes, if you would, do us a favor and smash that like button and leave us a review, an honest review on Apple iTunes. That’s gonna help get the word out to more church leaders so they can get more of our free resources to help them with this journey that we’re all going on together toward digital giving. I’m Kenny Jahng, thank you so much for joining us. Remember, be generous, stay generous.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.