Pastor, I have some great news. Generosity is on the rise with the most generous people across the United States. Statistically speaking, charitable giving dollars have never been higher. This growth is being achieved in large part due to giving people increasing their generosity year after year. Additionally, I previously spent two decades in the professional capital fundraising business. If we have learned anything from the traditional three-year capital campaign process it is that people are more than willing to raise their level of giving when the right opportunity is made available. So how can we provide inspiring opportunities more consistently?
First, acknowledge the spiritual gift of generosity (see Romans 12:8).
Realize that this gift is a powerful force inside of certain people that needs to be taught, encouraged, and set free. I have often found that people with this gift can be quiet and reserved. They may not be as publicly engaged in upfront ministry leading. Pastors have repeatedly shared with me the story of a surprise generous gift their church received from an unsung member. Giving is actually how certain people prefer to serve. It is their place of engagement.
Now, if someone has the spiritual or natural gift to sing or teach, we confidently know how to affirm and develop this gift. These people are easy to locate, thank, and praise. However, the private giver goes relatively unnoticed, except by that nonprofit they know and love. This is where they are receiving the most affirmation, so it’s no surprise when their giving grows toward organizations in the community.
Take a deep dive into the spiritual gift of generosity. Affirm it in your teaching. Raise the value of it in your language among your team and leadership. Let’s not allow this gift to go silent or cause us to be uncomfortable. God’s gifted people are awaiting your investment, encouragement, and teaching. Additionally, when you raise the visibility of this gift it will cause many to pursue it.
Next, create a bold and clear vision of your above and beyond visionary needs.
I think every church should have two well-articulated pieces of content to serve those who are looking for places to show their generosity: a one page summary of where the church is headed over the next five-to-ten years, and a list of items that require a generous investment beyond the church budget.
A one page brief summary of where your church is headed motivates your best givers. They give to the budget because they understand it is needed. However, they reserve their best gifts for the items that move the vision forward in big chunks. They are wired to see the future alongside you and desire to help speed up the progress.
Once you have a clearly articulated direction then crafting a list of items needed to accomplish the vision beyond the budget is obvious. For example, a “Five Year Vision” to increase engagement in the next generation may include items like remodeling the children’s space, adding interns, or funding global mission trips for your students. Big vision requires big givers. Do not hold back. Make the vision and list big enough to create both fear and faith. Make it so that it can not be accomplished in one year. Stretch your faith and your people. Just be clear that you will do what is on the list. The speed of their giving will determine the pace the vision advances.
Finally, invest in your best givers personally multiple times a year.
These visits are not to be fundraising contacts but are pastoral care interactions. You do not need to ask for resources. Once you increase your proximity to givers, having acknowledged this spiritual gift with a clear vision for the church, you can allow God to speak to them as he desires. Here are some ways you can grow your ministry directly to those needing your influence:
1. Develop a list of people whom you believe have this gift or the potential to grow this gift.
These can be long-time members or young couples where you see a passion growing. Do not limit your vision to those whom you believe may be above average wage earners. Feel free to solicit recommendations from your leadership and do not forget your new members. This list needs to be both a committed discipleship list for you as well as being dynamic enough to add people as God leads throughout the year. Do not be afraid to give this list a name and ministry title. Validate this gift in service to the church. It’s as much a volunteer role as being a greeter.
2. Build a calendar of ways you can raise your game in ministering to people on your list.
Different people may require different interactions based on their personality and depth of your relationship with them. The easiest thing to do would be to create a monthly devotional that you send to them via email or text. Often times, generous people can be very busy and feel disconnected. It would be well received if you spoke unique spiritual encouragement into their lives.
Personal phone calls, texts, emails, coffees, and lunches would also be appreciated. Just check in on them and see how things are going. People in leadership are constantly being asked to give of themselves. Someone needs to come alongside them to replenish their souls. You can be that person. Remember their kids can go off the rails along with their marriage. They can get sick and experience loss. Giving does not insulate us from real-life challenges. Be their support team.
3. Gather them together one to two times a year to re-cast vision and express thanks.
The preschool and student ministry teams often receive thanks and get to enjoy fun parties, why not those with the spiritual gift of giving? These events can happen in smaller settings like a private home or larger venues like renting a banquet area annually. When people with similar passions come together it is very encouraging. At these events, be sure to do the following. Update on vision successes. Show them how their generosity is moving the dial in big ways. Thank them. Then, thank them again. Be very humble and appreciative for what God is doing in them and through them. Provide a vision update so they can see the future. Once a giver sees success, they will desire to invest more in the next bold move. Provide a gift as they leave. Something that helps them feel affirmed and an important part of what God is doing at your church.
Pastor, God has called you to shepherd everyone in your church and every gift. Generous people need you to grow. They need your leadership to help develop them toward their highest potential for the kingdom. Let’s not under-serve these amazing people.
Find more resources about money and giving at LifewayGenerosity.com.