Let me ask you a question. Do you think differently about how your church gives at the end of the year?
If you don’t, you should.
The hard truth is that most pastors just hope for better offerings when people are in a generous mindset. When all they do is make a quick announcement or give an off-the-cuff sermonette one weekend in December, they usually end up disappointed.
And yet, the holiday season is one of the most generous times of the year. People are going to be giving in November and December — whether it’s to your church or somewhere else.
Why You Should Do an End of Year Giving Campaign
While a thoughtful, emotionally intelligent, and systematic approach to giving in your church should prevent constant appeals for more money, the final six weeks of the year are different.
The last six weeks of the year are the perfect time to run giving campaigns. These are effective, simple ways to keep your church’s budget on track… and your ministry growing. If the thought of using the holiday season as a time to raise funds doesn’t make sense to you, here are a few reasons you should seriously consider it as a prime giving opportunity for your congregation:
Let’s be honest; a lot of people intend to be generous. But the year slips away on them and they realize they haven’t done what they hoped they might do to support your church.
A year end campaign helps church members give the way they’d hoped to.
Business Owners Step Up Later in the Year
Many business owners wait with their bigger gifts until the end of the year, in part because they don’t always get paid regularly, and in part because they have to wait to see how their company did.
In addition, some delay giving until their tax situation becomes clearer, which it usually does by Q4 most years.
Meeting and Surpassing Your Annual Budget
The simplest reason to run an end of year campaign is to meet your basic budgetary needs. If giving falls a bit behind during the rest of the year, the last thing you want to do is already be failing to make ends meet as you go into the leaner month after Christmas.
End of year campaigns help you start out strong, not struggling.
Closing Gaps for Ambitious Financial Goals
It doesn’t matter if you’re raising funds for a new church building, a missions trip to Tahiti, or anything in between. If you have big plans in the coming months, a well-executed and well-timed campaign can jumpstart the job of reaching those ambitious financial goals.
Embracing a Kingdom-building Mindset
It’s easy to settle for what’s working. And if that’s clearly where God has you, stay on course. Too often, though, church leaders set their ministries on cruise control and fail to live up to the Kingdom-building opportunities and potential that God puts in their path.
An appeal to end of year giving helps fund church growth — and adds a sense of accountability and gentle pressure to keep you moving forward in your calling.
Avoiding the Need for Traditional Fundraisers
We’re all used to spaghetti dinners and bottle drives, but let me tell you something. Traditional fundraising is a terrible way to raise money. Period. Full stop.
Giving campaigns take less effort, are more effective, don’t waste resources, teach healthy giving habits — should I keep going?
Learning to Address Money on a Regular Basis
Generosity campaigns challenge pastors to talk about money on a regular basis. You prepare ahead of time, and it will help you provide purposeful, faith-based teachings, and share encouragement based on your own giving journey.
Teaching to Give as a Habit
Giving campaigns at the end of the year are also a great way to teach healthy giving habits to a congregation. We live in a scattered, mobile-first world. Giving has never been easier — and yet, it’s also very easy to forget.
End of year campaigns are a perfect time to bring up giving. It allows you to challenge less generous attendees to consider practicing intentional giving more often. It can even help encourage automated giving and turn regular attendees into consistent givers. That will also help you start the next year strong.
There are many reasons why giving during the end of the year makes sense. When people are in the mood to give, use that as a way to direct their generosity toward something that can really make a difference: the church.
Striking When the Iron Is Hot
Did you know that, according to the latest research, 30% of all giving takes place in the final few weeks of the year?
That’s right. 30 cents of every dollar that your church brings in is typically donated in the last month or so of the year. We’re talking about the days leading up to Thanksgiving through December 31st — right over the holiday season.
The statistics show us that people will be giving generously as the year ends. However, where they choose to donate their money is up in the air.
That’s where end of year giving campaigns can help. They remind your congregation that your ministry has a bigger purpose that stretches beyond your Sunday morning services. You have counselors, missions teams, small groups, bible studies, and community events that take place throughout the weeks and months of the year, too — all of which require funding.
End of year giving campaigns remind your people that your ministry requires support at a time when generosity is on the mind. When done well, these campaigns don’t just pull on people’s heartstrings. They lay out clear reasons and roadmaps for why you need funding to continue to have a collective impact on both one another and the world around you. It communicates your vision and how you intend to execute it in the coming months.
If you’re seeing the value, the next question is: how do you organize one? The last thing you want to do is be busy prepping your campaigns at the last minute or scrambling as you try to roll things out.
The end of the year is an important time for a church outside of financial considerations. There are critical activities, events, and services that you want to focus on when the time comes.
That’s why you need to prepare ahead of time.
That way, when it’s time to make your year end appeal, it is backed by a solid, clearly communicated message that hits home and stirs hearts to take action.
How to Organize an Impactful Year-End Campaign
If you want to launch an end of year campaign that really has an impact, you want to take the time to organize things beforehand. Here are a few major areas to consider as the end of the year approaches.
Start With Strategy
You saw this one coming, right? Setting up and executing impactful end of year giving campaigns requires a lot of work. You can’t just have a desire for people to give or make a single prayer, short offering talk, or even a Sunday message and expect to see results.
To raise money effectively, you have to have a long-term strategy in place.
The more strategic your approach to year end giving is, the better your results will be. Your strategy should include things like:
- Deciding what kind of revenue goals are right for you this year
- Fleshing out timelines that avoid rushed appeals or missing opportunities altogether
- Creating promotional content to communicate fundraising goals and messages
- Deciding which individuals from your team to involve (pastors, managers, administrators, strategists, content creators, etc.)
As these pieces come together, begin to craft a strategy that can guide you when you start to implement things in November.
Time It Well
I’ve touched on this concept a couple of times already — but it’s so important it deserves its own section. Timing is everything with effective fundraising.
With end of year campaigns, you need to walk the line between too early and too late. You don’t want to start asking for donations on Christmas Eve. At the same time, if you’re talking about a November event in September, it will lose any early momentum by the time Thanksgiving rolls around.
Use your strategy to map out the best time to begin letting people know about your campaign. Don’t rush them or push them to act emotionally. You need to give people the time to respond.
People don’t make sacrificial financial decisions on the spot. They need time to pray and plan. Giving out of emotion won’t cut it.
Consider Communication, Too
The way you communicate your campaigns can make a big difference in how successful they are. You want to have two things in place.
First, make sure you have a clear message that you can iterate and reiterate in the final weeks of the year.
It can help to have a specific need as you do this. Being able to say, “We’ll use the money for X,” can encourage people to act.
But it’s also okay not to have a specific need, too. People can give more because they are generous and simply have more to give. If you’re truly being the church, your mission is more than enough to inspire generous giving.
Whichever option it is, make sure you’re communicating your message consistently.
Second, make sure to use all of the communication channels you have available.
Churches are no longer exclusively physical entities. Congregations live online, as well. The internet brings the Body of Christ together in ways that never were an option a hundred years ago — or even twenty years ago, for that matter.
Use your social channels to generate buzz and get the word out. Send out email reminders with donation links. Create event pages on your website with more information. Use texting and QR codes, too. You get the idea.
Tap Into Experienced Support
In an area like fundraising, often working with an experienced coach or mentor can have a synergistic effect on the impact of each campaign. That’s why we’ve created the Best Year-End Ever Coaching Program.
Best Year-End Ever gives you access not to one but to three seasoned ministry veterans — Rich Birch, Kenny Jahng, and myself. The course consists of four phases:
- Phase 1: Countdown. From October 10th to 31st, we go over resources, conduct coaching calls, and work with you to set the stage for your campaign.
- Phase 2: Ignition. Throughout November, we help you prepare to launch your end of year giving campaign. Along with the logistics, this includes getting your leadership team trained and equipped.
- Phase 3: Launch. From December 1st through January 7th, we support you as you launch your campaign in the wake of Thanksgiving. From #GivingTuesday to weekly Sunday reminders, social media posts, direct mail, and a last-call weekend, we ensure you get the most out of your efforts.
- Phase 4: Orbit. Finally, we celebrate and evaluate the impact of the campaign.
Best Year-End Ever is a powerful way to amplify your fundraising efforts. When churches conduct well-executed end of year fundraising campaigns, they often increase their annual budget by 10%.
For a budget of $500,000, that’s an extra $50,000. It’s significant results for those who are serious about building the Kingdom. For a budget of $1,500,000, that’s an extra $150,000.
Examples of Church Year-End Giving Campaigns
As you develop an end of year giving campaign for your particular church, it’s important to consider what elements have worked for others in the past. Here are a few effective campaign ideas to consider as you pull together your plan.
1. Encourage Text-to-Give
We’re nearly a quarter of the way into the 21st century, guys. Your church needs to be texting.
Texting isn’t just a popular way to communicate. It also opens up the opportunity for text-to-give fundraising. Use texts, links, and QR codes to encourage attendees to use their mobile phones to support your ministry.
2. Fully Utilize Online Campaigns
Along with texting, everyone is online — and not just in one space. Studies have found that people are using over six different social networks each month — and that doesn’t even include things like email and text.
Incorporate as many of these online elements as you can to turn each event into a multi-channel experience. Be strategic, too. For instance, if you’re sending emails, segment them by gift size, giving frequency, and supporter types (volunteers, members, past donors, age, etc.).
3. Brand Your Giving Campaign
Many church tech tools now allow you to white-label your content. In other words, you can put your church’s logo, branding, and colors onto the things you create. This creates consistency.
Take the time to align all of your campaign elements. At the least, give them your church’s branding scheme. If you can create a specific look and feel for the individual campaign to use instead, that’s even better.
4. Tell a Story
All of your year end giving campaign ideas should include a story element.
Whether you’re crafting a 280-character message on X (formerly Twitter) or drafting a powerful email, make sure to invest in the story. Draw in potential donors by showing them the exciting, real-world impact that their gifts will have.
5. Look for Matching Donors
Matching donors is a powerful way to encourage smaller donors to step up.
As you segment your fundraising efforts, consider asking larger donors to provide a matching incentive. Then incorporate that element into your fundraising content so that everyone is aware of how much will be matched for how long.
Measure and Evaluate Your Campaign Results
It feels really good when you finish a successful end of the year giving campaign. It’s also a lot of work, which makes it tempting to wrap up shop on January 1st and never look back.
However, fundraising is an ongoing activity for a church. For it to be sustainable, you want to track past successes and failures to ensure that what you’re doing is working.
That’s why the entire fourth phase of the Best Year-End Ever course focuses on the analysis and follow-up of a completed campaign.
That doesn’t just mean checking if you hit your goals. You want to pull back the curtain further to look at the nitty-gritty elements. What worked? What didn’t?
Remember, even the most successful fundraising ideas will have their high and low points. You might find that you had a high open rate for emails but low engagement on social media. Perhaps a message on a certain Sunday led to a flood of donations. Maybe you didn’t see a penny donated for the second week of December.
Whatever the specifics might look like, these are useful pieces of information. The church is going through a great giving reshuffle at the moment, and it’s important to study how your particular congregation gives. What is it that speaks to your attendees’ hearts and unlocks their willingness to provide financial support?
Look for those answers, digest them, and then add them to your process for next year.
Generosity in the New Year
The last step is to start looking forward. How can you roll the financial success of a well-executed end of year giving campaign into your donation and fundraising efforts in January and beyond?
You don’t need to turn every season into an extended fundraising session. But what giving practices and elements can you continue to cultivate moving forward?
For instance, as we already talked about earlier, it’s good for a pastor to feel the challenge and overcome the hesitation that too often comes with the need to speak about giving.
This is an important part of end of year giving campaigns. But it doesn’t stop there.
How can your church leadership continue to emphasize this critical part of Christian behavior in the new year? Do you need to purposefully plan in time to exhort your attendees to remember intentional generosity?
Your communication is another important area to keep up with. Once you’ve got email lists, social channels, text-to-give, and all that jazz fired up, the last thing you want to do is let it languish from January until next November.
Instead, take the time to invest in keeping these lines of communication open. Send out email updates (if you raised funds for a specific need at the end of the year, start by providing updates on how the money is having an impact).
You can also use your social channels to interact with attendees. Keep encouraging individuals to use text-to-give and sign up for automatic giving, too. Use these critical tools to keep everyone engaged and in line with your vision throughout the year.
Finally, consider how you can impact the budget on the leadership and administrative side of the deal.
For instance, here’s a challenge for you. What if you made it a practice to only spend 90% of your total offerings during the year? This would naturally create a 10% windfall similar to a successful end of year campaign — except in this case, it occurs all year long.
This kind of budgeting can lead to a big cash reserve over a few years. You can use this for both obstacles (unplanned-for repairs and challenges) and opportunities (new staff hires, growth initiatives, expansion). A pre-built fund makes it easier to handle these one-time expenses without going back to your church for more money each time.
Conducting an Effective End of Year Giving Campaign
At the end of the year, generosity is in the spotlight. It’s a great time to run a year end giving campaign as a church.
If you lay the groundwork now, you can create an effective fundraising effort this November and December. Set goals, assemble your team, create your content, and map out your timeline. That way, your church can enter the new year strong rather than struggling.