Most churches face a drop in giving in the summertime. People are on vacation, and giving to church isn’t always their top priority. Cash flow can be an issue, and it’s easy for pastors and church leaders to panic.
Here are some suggestions:
To do now:
- Normalize it. Even if you face cash flow challenges, expect it and accept it. Don’t cry “the sky is falling!” (even to yourself). Remember, this happens every year. It’s predictable. You figure it out every year, and you’ll figure it out this year.
- Stay in touch. Keep your church’s ministry in front of your people, even if they aren’t there as often. Maximize whatever communication avenues you use. Here are a few specific ideas:
- Send out stories about the summer mission trip or your summer children’s program.
- Send a mid-summer snail mail ministry update, and ask people to keep supporting the church. People still open their mail!
- Send handwritten giving thank you notes now.
- Instead of panicking, bring this challenge to prayer. Invite your finance team to pray. If they are all hard-headed business types, assure them you are as interested in the bottom line as they are, and share your convictions about the importance of prayer. If they won’t bite, pray anyway, and invite someone outside the team to join you.
To plan for the future:
- Track annual giving patterns. Rather than dividing your budgeted income by 12, look at the last three years and see how the giving has come in. In most churches, December is the biggest month. If you look at 1/12 each month, you’ve got bad news 11 months of the year. Instead, look at what you expect to receive in July and plan for it. You’ll panic less. When I was a pastor, this helped me keep perspective through the year.
- Set up automatic giving. It’s great when people intentionally put money in the offering each week. At the same time, the best way to keep cash flow more even through the year is to make it possible for people to give automatically. At least give them the option. Then, next year in July, they can give even when they are on vacation. Most people want electronic giving options (see this research from Vanco Payment Solutions.)
- Next year, share the summer ministry opportunities early. Invite people to give to support them and the overall ministry of the church through the summer.
Big picture question for you to mull over:
How can you keep the long view when you are facing a short-term challenge (financial or otherwise)?
Immediate question to answer in the comments below:
How does your church encourage people to support the ministry financially through the summer?
I’d love to hear your ideas!