With the New Year upon us, now is an excellent time to look at the overall strategies of your congregation to encourage generous giving. Thankfully we can build on learnings from the Spirituality and Giving Project, 1 which studied 1,157 churches of more than two dozen denominations about what motivates members to give, and what influences them to increase their giving. The churches were rural, urban and suburban from both the U.S. and Canada.

These were the top ten most effective ways to increase giving in a congregation. They are:

  1. Connect individual giving directly to the spiritual life of each person.
  2. Begin practicing stewardship education as a twelve-month process which involves children, youth, and adults.
  3. Encourage tithing or proportionate giving.
  4. Let people make pledges and regular gifts to more than a single fund, encouraging rather than discouraging designated giving.
  5. Provide opportunity for people to give from both checking and savings.
  6. Promote special offerings more effectively.
  7. Encourage the pastor to be actively involved in stewardship education and fund-raising.
  8. Send more frequent financial statements to members and constituents who support the church.
  9. Emphasize the mission and vision of your church rather than the line item budget – and remember that people give to people and God, not budgets.
  10. Help people give through their wills, living trusts, life insurance policies, and similar means.

As you put together your church’s Generosity Plan for this year ahead, you can start with this “Top Ten,” assessing what the leadership does well and what one or more things you can improve, to help grow more generous-hearted givers.

Your partner in ministry,

Betsy Schwarzentraub

1 – Study conducted by Christian Community, which published The Desires of Your Heart: Financial Giving and the Spiritual Life (1997: Christian Community, Fort Wayne, Indiana), by Holly Carcione, Steve Clapp, Kristen Leverton and Angela Zimmerman. The authors listed these ten strategies on p. 22 and used them as the subjects of each of the book’s chapters.