Systems and stories. Those two words have been rumbling around in my mind the last few weeks. These two words are key towards your church being fully funded this year. Let me illustrate with this story that came out of a planning meeting with one of my clients.
“To start off the New Year we have had two weekends of bad weather that hurt our attendance. Then last Sunday we had to cancel our morning services all together. We can’t afford to fall behind in our giving.” Sound familiar? The concerns of this pastor have been experienced by all of us in some way. How do you make up for a loss in offering?
Systems and stories! Let’s unpack that by first seeing…
What systems should you have in place?
- Dynamic website. I have written on this before, but your website is the first place most people will visit BEFORE they ever darken your doors. Make yours a good one!
- Robust online giving platform including text giving. You should be working towards the majority of your giving coming in some type of digital means.
- Social Media platform and presence. Like it or not, and sometimes I hate it, Social Media is where many people spend a great bulk of their time. If you are not there you are missing an opportunity to connect with your people and those in your community.
- Postage paid envelopes. I know this sounds old school but in fact this can be a great tool if used properly.
- Extensive data base of your donors. A given is to have all your members email addresses. Yet you need to also have the ability to break this list down by various subgroups like, first time givers, by consistency, etc.
Here is how the above can work to help increase a weather impacted weekend. The quote from the pastor above was made to me in an early Tuesday afternoon meeting. Later in the day the Financial Secretary released the news on giving that weekend. Amazingly the offering was only down slightly. How could that be? 60% of the giving came in digitally! That was possible because they had the systems already in place and working. Do you?
Stories. You have to make the connection of how a dollar given at your church makes the world a better place. One of the best ways to do that is to tell the story of what your church is accomplishing for the Kingdom.
A few years ago, instead of asking a church what their vision was I started asking what their story was. That leads me to one of my key giving mantras…
Get a story, work your story, tell your story and people will give to support your story.
My friend Herb Buwalda has a great way of breaking out the difference between mission and vision. He says…
Mission – Answers the question…Why are we here?
Vision – Answers the question…Where are we going on behalf of our mission?
Stories of life change illustrate your mission and vision in action.
“Building a Story Brand: Clarify Your Message so Customers Will Listen” – That is recent book I read. As a run a small business I am always looking for ways to increase the awareness of what I offer. Marketing is a huge part of building a successful business, i.e. putting food on my table. Donald Miller, the author of the book had some great insights into marketing by telling your story. There were a lot of great quotes in the book but here is one that grabbed my attention…
“People are bombarded with more than 3,000 marketing messages every 24 hours.”
Your story better be good to be heard above the roar of everything coming at your members.
“Rethink Communication: A Playbook to Clarify and Communicate Everything in Your Church,” is another book on communications that I recently read. Phil Bowdle the author makes a great point in this book when he says, “To effectively communicate your message, you’ll need to stop building your strategy exclusively around physical attendance. Why? As my friend Dave Anderson says, “Church attendance is not decreasing, it’s decentralizing.”
This means you must be creative and consistent in communication to get your story heard. Gone are the days when you can make one announcement from the platform and everyone hears it. You must have multiple platforms with multiple streams of messaging to be heard.
Phil Bowdle in his book references the marketing term, “the rule of seven.” Essentially that means someone needs to hear your message seven times before they respond.”
Before they can hear your story you have to have the systems in place. Without a compelling story the best systems in the world are worthless.
Spend some time with your staff or leadership team talking about what systems you need and how you can tell your story better. Doing so will increase your giving!
What’s your story?
Mark Brooks – The Stewardship Coach