In this blog series, we’re talking about how to overcome fundraising obstacles that can pop up even in well-run church development programs. These are issues or crises that you can’t anticipate, but you can handle them in a way that protects your church and your donors.
In our last post, we outlined how to handle unplanned or sudden expenses. Today’s topic, budget shortfalls, is related but stems from another issue: expenses outpacing revenue. If you’ve planned a balanced budget and your expenses are on track, these ideas will help you right the ship when it comes to revenue.
- Review your income status regularly. Be sure you are checking in frequently on your pledge fulfillment and giving totals against your projections. Don’t wait until a quarterly financial report to realize your members are dragging significantly behind in their giving or pledge payments.
- Communicate, thank and remind. If you’re a regular reader of this blog content, you know that nothing is more important than donor-centered communication and acknowledgments. Thank your givers often, be sure they know the direct impact they have on your church’s daily operations, and provide regular reminders about the importance of tithes and offerings/pledge fulfillment for the health of the church.
- Be transparent. If your giving figures are slipping significantly and you know it’s not a result of a loss of key donor members, communicate the situation to your congregation. It can be as simple as including reminders in your weekly or monthly bulletins or pastoral messages: “Friends, our giving is about 20 percent below where we’d planned it to be at this point in the year. Just a reminder to all of us with a pledge to fulfill those commitments so we can keep the church in good fiscal health. Give or catch up with your pledge at churchname.org/give.”
- If congregational shifts or other circumstances have led to the shortfall, consider asking members to consider a small additional gift this year or a small percentage increase on their pledge. If each member giving an additional 2-3% could close the gap, explain that to your members and ask for their prayerful consideration of a sacrificial stretch gift.
As mentioned in the prior post, asking members to make an extra or over-and-above gift isn’t something you want to make a habit of doing, as it can lead to donor mistrust and/or donor fatigue. It should be reserved for rare occasions that don’t stem from poor planning or leadership decisions.
But give your members a chance to step up and meet an urgent church need.
Our partnership with ACST means churches needing help can work with us on their stewardship programs. If you’d like counsel about any aspect of donor relations or your church’s development plans, contact us today, and we’ll be happy to talk with you.
In our next blog of this series, we’ll talk about overcoming a leadership change.
About Tim Smith
Tim has over 30 years of experience in Church, Non-Profit Administration, Management, and Fund Development. Serving as an Executive Pastor and Chief Development Officer in growing Churches and Non-Profit Organizations. He has provided a wide range of expertise and resources. Tim serves as the Founder and CEO of Non-Profit DNA. A boutique firm committed to helping nonprofits and churches. By building their capacity through fundraising, leadership, team building, staff recruiting, and coaching.