Why do your top givers support your church? What drives them? What are they most passionate about? What pieces of your mission and ministry are they most inspired by?
Can you answer those questions about your top tier of tithers, donors and volunteers?
As part of our series of 25 fundraising ideas for churches, we’re looking today at donor relationships and the concept of donor dinners. If it’s been a long time since you asked the questions above of your best givers…or if you’ve never asked…this is an easy, simple idea that will have ripples of impact.
Let me first say that donor dinners don’t have to be formal or fancy. All we mean is a specific time to sit over a meal with your best congregational givers. It can be a greasy spoon diner breakfast, a sub lunch or a homemade meal/grill out. Some pastors find it works well to invite two or three couples or a small group of givers, while others prefer to do these individually.
The purpose is simply to learn more about these important members, why they’re involved in the church and why they invest in its mission. This isn’t a giving “ask” at all…it’s a time to thank them for their generosity and just get to know them better.
If you as a pastor can plan even just two to three of these a month, you can connect with a large portion of your top givers in the course of a year. When you make this part of your routine, it not only advances your pastoral role with these givers, it gives you a perspective of how they plan their giving and what motivates them to contribute to projects.
This investment of relational time will also give you a keen sense of your givers’ rhythms, personal or work changes and other life happenings that can impact their involvement with your congregation. I’d encourage you to extend this practice not just to your top financial givers but to your most heavily involved volunteers. They can give you valuable perspective as well, and the data shows volunteers often become our best long-term givers.The act of breaking bread (or eggs!) together demonstrates your care for these generous donors and the ways they shape your ministry. This fundamental practice can help undergird everything else in your stewardship plans – from capturing donor testimonials to planning for your next capital campaign.