Do you (or your leaders) make these five mistakes when communicating about money at church?

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I don’t have to tell you that communication is a big challenge for church leaders. “I didn’t know about…” “No one ever told us…” You may have shared the message for weeks, and people still didn’t get it. This is often hardest when it concerns money. Here are five mistakes church leaders often make when communicating about money.

  1. They share only numbers. Budgets and financial statements are important, but they won’t communicate to most people. And they will not motivate people to give. Stories of lives touched will do far more than a sheet of numbers. Using pictures will help even more.
  2. They don’t consider the role of anxiety. Anxiety is like static, and it makes it harder for people to receive information in any form. If anxiety about money is high, you need to communicate more often and through more avenues. Expect that people won’t hear, or won’t hear correctly, and put extra effort into the message. Then don’t be frustrated when they come back asking for more information. Simply give it again, neutrally.
  3. They report giving on an evenly-divided twelve month calendar. No church receives giving evenly throughout the year. If you report giving in this way, in most churches you will be giving bad news every year until December,. An alternative: Based on a three year average, calculate what you can expect to receive in each month. That way you can report a realistic expectation for July, not one-twelfth of the annual expected giving.
  4. They use only one means of communication. Many churches still send out one stewardship letter. See if you can find five different ways to ask people to give. Here are a few ideas: a letter, an e-mail, a request from the pastor, an invitation from a lay leader in worship, a personal invitation to new members.
  5. They don’t communicate their thanks, only their request. Thank people for their pledges and their giving. Do this individually, not just with a blanket thank you from the platform or in the newsletter. People like to be thanked, and it helps motivate them to continue to give.

3 Responses to Do you (or your leaders) make these five mistakes when communicating about money at church?

  1. Paul Brassey says:

    At a conference for non-profits last week I heard a lot about fund raising. The last point was very much emphasized. Thank your donors! Also, one person made this statement: People give to people, not to causes.

  2. Vern Sanders says:

    These are great ideas, Margaret, and even though #3 takes more work, especially at the beginning, it is worth it.

    But I really want to mention that with regard to #1, I could agree more. It’s one of the things I cover in detail in my book 7 Steps to a Perfect Music Ministry Budget, more about which is here: http://cmag.ws/8d

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