When most people think about church giving they often think about money that goes in the offering plate every Sunday. In reality there are generally 4 types of giving. John Maxwell speaks of them as pockets of giving. Basically people have money in certain pockets that they will give to certain things and not other things. Here are the 4 pockets or types of giving:
General giving– This is the giving that happens week by week and month by month in the offering plates and is used for the usual work of the church. This used to be based on annual pledge cards but I have noticed a general aversion commitment cards. I think that people’s jobs tend to be in flux so they have trouble knowing.
Special giving– Sometimes there are specific and immediate needs that come up in ministry. This could include emergencies at the church or in the community, a visiting missionary, a music program, a denominational special offering… Very often people will give to a special cause if they are asked and if it is a something they value and believe in. My dad had a visitor in his church a few years ago who happened to be visiting as my dad was making a plea for funding several kids to summer camp. It turns out that this person had a valuable church camp experience growing up and has always wanted to give that to someone else. He ended up giving a big donation and funding camp for several youth. We are not good about asking for these kinds of gifts. The reality is that some people want to give to special causes and we in the church need to give them a chance to.
Campaign giving– This is special giving for a 2-3 year period for a major project for the church. Many times these are building renovations but I have also heard of churches doing campaigns to pay down their debt, build an endowment, or even start a new ministry. Churches are often scared of these kind of programs because they think it will hurt their general giving. In reality these kind of campaigns can generate excitement and giving habits that increasing general giving. A consultant can be very helpful in this process.
Planned giving– This is the area I still need to learn the most about. This is end of life giving. Has anyone talked to the people of your church about remembering the church in their will or estate? The Presbyterian Church (USA) normally dedicates the first Sunday in May as Wills Emphasis Sunday. This kind of giving can be valuable for both the church and the person.
My experience so far it that generosity breeds generosity. In other words, the more types of giving that your church engages in the more giving generally increases. If your church is only doing one of these, I suggest you try another.
How is your church doing in each of these areas?