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How to Raise More Money (Part 2)
How to Raise More Money (Part 2) 300 168 The Provisum Group

If you want to raise more money, you need to learn about the different ways that money can be raised in churches. There are six main categories for churches to collect charitable revenue.

The Annual Campaign. Historically, tithes and offerings have been the only source of revenue for most churches. A national average shows that US tithers give an average total of around $2500 per year. The total gift is usually given in smaller amounts sporadically throughout the year. These gifts should be cultivated year round with a definite push at year-end.

Major Gifts. This is the main source of revenue for most nonprofits (excluding churches). Most major gifts are $2500 per year or more given by both individuals and corporations. Requesting major gifts means that the fundraiser cultivates year round and then asks according to preference of the donor.

Grants & Contracts. This type of charitable revenue is defined as short term funding for expanding organizational capacity. Grants can be any size ranging from thousands to millions of dollars. Sources for such grants include charitable foundations, corporations, and even government agencies.

Capital Campaigns. This form of charitable revenue is a complimentary campaign designed to raise capital for a special and specific project. A campaign’s size is dependent upon the size of the project as well as the capacity of the organization. Sources for capital campaigns include individuals, corporations, and foundations and have a very clear beginning, middle and end which can vary from several months to several years.

Planned Giving/Bequests. The most underutilized revenue source among churches, are defined as gifts that will fund at a future date through a bequest, trust, or annuity. Gift sizes can be smaller but range up into the millions of dollars and are usually given by those who have reached middle age and are starting to plan their estate. Planned giving and bequests are cultivated over multiple years and as circumstances allow.

Social Enterprise. Categorically it is the forgotten option. Social enterprise usually involves for profit business units operated under the umbrella of a nonprofit. Strong churches and nonprofits tend to like social enterprise because it creates social impact in a community, flexibility regarding profit, and responsiveness to understanding a customer’s needs.

So let me ask you two questions. Which of these six have you worked to pro-actively cultivate? Which would be easiest/hardest to implement in your church? My guess is that most readers focus on two: tithes and capital campaigns. This is not enough.

As America moves toward a post-Christian context, you have an opportunity to think beyond tithes and capital campaigns and begin to imagine how you can collect charitable revenue by tapping into the other four underutilized streams.

If this interests you, find a coach who can train you in philanthropy simply so your imagination can be released to develop a workable plan to increase charitable revenue and grow your churches impact.

Follow Up
Follow Up 300 300 The Provisum Group

People will visit your church for lots of different reasons, but they stick around because of the relationships they form with other people in your church. The first on-ramp to getting connected in a church is follow-up.  The simple fact is that churches who follow up and prioritize healthy relationships tend to grow both deep and wide.  Does your church do a good job of follow up with visitors and attenders? How do you know?  When is the last time you checked?

I have a team of people who work with me that “secret shop” churches.  At a pastors request, we show up unannounced to a church on a Sunday morning, do everything asked of us and then record the experience for feedback to the churches leadership.  Before we visit, we ask the pastor what we can expect in terms of connection and follow up.  I have lead this effort many times over the years.  In all those years, never once have we experienced everything the pastor thought we would.  In most cases we experience little if anything the pastor described.  What message do you think this sends to visitors and attenders?

I suggest pastors and leaders of churches commit to do one thing everyday to nurture the relationships in the church. Additionally, I encourage pastors and leaders to find ways to empower key leaders in the church to prioritize follow up. Follow up should not rest squarely on the shoulders of the senior leader. It is the responsibility of the whole church.

Below is a list of daily actions that only require a few minutes of your workday. It may not seem like much, but these daily actions compounded over time will result in a pipeline of connection and relational activity guaranteed to grow your church.
Sunday is Capture Contact Info Day.  The first step in every relationship is the exchange of names. Make sure somewhere in your service someone asks for an email address so “we can start telling you about what is going on around here.”

Monday is Follow-Up Day. Make sure someone follows up with new visitors who provided their contact info at Sunday’s service. Follow your plan—whether its phone calls, emails, or snail mail, be consistent and follow up.  The easiest way to do this is ask the person responsible for follow up to bring you a list of this weeks visitors and a copy of what was sent to those visitors.

Tuesday is Connection Day. Connect with individuals in the church about joining a community group or another type of spiritual growth event in the church. Use this day to encourage the church to connect with each other on a regular basis.  Make sure someone is calling people to join community groups or volunteer in service.  Even in this media savy age, a phone call here is your best bet for connection.

Wednesday is Party Day. Well, maybe not a party. But make sure your team is planning events that engage the neighborhood around you. Make sure you are able to gather contact info as a part of your event so that you can follow up later.

Thursday is Update Day. Send the church database an e-newsletter with upcoming events, service opportunities, or even perhaps an inside track to the coming Sunday sermon.

Friday is Prep Day. Check in on the database and follow up systems in your church to make sure they are working and ready for Sunday. Leave space for a second follow up to your contact efforts from Monday and Tuesday.

Saturday is Relax Day. Spend time with your family and when you think of it, pray a quick prayer that lives will be touched in the week ahead.

When we as church leaders steward the relationships God has placed in our lives, we are being faithful to God’s call. We are also setting ourselves up to be a part of a vibrant, growing, and fun church.

May God give you the insight, strength, and opportunities to prioritize relationships in your church.

Experience is Expensive
Experience is Expensive 500 333 The Provisum Group

The reason for hiring people with experience is because they have had “experiences”. If those people had only victories, they wouldn’t have wisdom. But if they had failures and losses, then they have the wisdom—the benefit of those experiences.

Remember the difference between experience and wisdom:

Experience is what you learn from your own mistakes.

Wisdom is what you learn from the mistakes of others.

Wisdom is what we need before we make a choice. Experience is what we gain after we have made our choice.

When you bring someone on your team with wisdom and you take time to listen and learn, it will be far less painful and cost far less than having the experience yourself.

So how do we gain wisdom?

  • Read and Study. You need to commit yourself to read and learn from the experience and wisdom of others. You are not above reading and learning. If fact, wise people commit to life-long learning.
  • Develop a Personal Board of Advisors. In other words, surround yourself with wise people who are good at what they do. When you seek the advice of experts who are for you and who like you, you will be more effective and avoid costly mistakes.
  • Pray for Wisdom. At the end of the day, God gives all wisdom. All truth is God’s truth. So seek the one who can supernaturally give you the wisdom that you need. In fact, God tells us to ask him for wisdom and that he will give it to us freely.
  • Seek out the opinion of people with whom you disagree. Don’t seek them out to prove your point or to argue. Rather seek to genuinely understand opinions different from your own in the spirit of civility. When you spend time with people who think differently, you will be sharpening what you believe and how you communicate it effectively with others.

May you gain wisdom in all of you ministry choices as you seek to find it.

Four Ways to Grow Respect in Church Business Affairs
Four Ways to Grow Respect in Church Business Affairs 1024 654 The Provisum Group

In real life, business really must be just business. Business isn’t personal unless someone makes it personal out of a business activity or decision. Decisions have to be made. One idea has to be chosen among all the options. These are the business realities of life, and they apply to kingdom work as well.

 

Turning business decisions into matters of personal preference causes progress to grind to a halt. It is better to reach many outside your church and risk upsetting a few inside your church than to reach only a few and upset no one.

Here are four tips to maintain civility and respect in church business.

  • Treat people with respect. Regardless of any tough business decision that needs to be made, we Christians treat everybody with respect. We honor all people the best we can. We may not do what they like, but respect and honor is essential.
  • Be aware of your own biases. Often we have personal preferences that we allow to affect our judgment. We like a person. We like a project. A loved one oversees a particular ministry. It is within the context of relationship that our preferences and biases emerge. Take inventory of your relationships and discern if something is hindering you from making the wiser decision.
  • Consider how you can communicate the tough decision effectively. When you can, explain your intentions. Share the data. Share the story about how you arrived at the decision. Make sure you are clear about the win—as in clearly articulating why this decision is a good one. While this may not satisfy certain people, you can hold your head high knowing you not only made a tough decision but you did everything you could to help your team understand it.
  • Create an environment that is more tolerant and accepting of tough decisions. There’s an old saying that it is hard to argue with success. I would add that it is even harder to argue against a leader who has regularly communicated a longstanding record of success. If you report on successes regularly, you will create a cultural value within your organization that accepts tough decisions because individuals are aware of the good that is happening all around them.
Post Christian Financial Prep
Post Christian Financial Prep 300 300 The Provisum Group

In the past forty years, The Western Church has gone from being a leading force in a Christian culture to a religious sect in a secular culture.

What does this mean for church financial administrators?

In Christian culture, churches and their leaders could more easily expect donations, and could afford larger church staffs and larger ministry budgets. Churches could afford to make bigger mistakes.

In a secular culture, and if trends continue, churches and their leaders may continue to witness a sharp decline in donations and charitable giving from attenders in the church.

I believe it is wise for every financial administrator and senior leadership team to develop a post-Christian financial mindset in three ways.

  • Leadership must take time to understand fundamental business principles. We must know the culture in which we operate.
  • Leadership must operate within their gift set and learn to develop great relationships with financial experts who can help them.
  • Leadership must understand the factors that parishioners use to determine if they will financially invest in their church.

Strategies like these are why The Provisum Group was born. The Provisum Group is a nonprofit organization designed to help leaders stay focused on ministry by serving their accounting, IT, and communications needs.

My advice is to prepare by surrounding yourself with savvy experts who can help you pivot to run a lean and mean church that is financially sound to insure huge Kingdom impact in the future.

Friction is Good
Friction is Good 300 130 The Provisum Group

Friction is a good and necessary part of life.

In ministry, as we make progress in doing what we love—see people come to Christ—we are bound to get a bit banged up. We create friction. It’s not just part of advancing the ministry; it’s essential for advancing the ministry. The church, especially in the western hemisphere, has been bending over backward so as not to offend anyone for the last forty years. And has it gotten us? Avoiding conflict is a luxury no church or ministry can afford.

Here are three things to remember about friction.

  • There is always friction where there is movement. Friction is the result of movement. Even an airplane flying has a coefficient of airflow that creates lift. If there’s no friction, nothing is moving.
  • Don’t fear friction. To fear friction is to fear growth. Don’t be afraid of the potential for anxiety simply because of friction—especially if you are bringing an issue to the attention of the church.
  • You can’t have one with out the other. Decide what you’re more afraid of: friction or no movement. Fear of friction will always lead to a lack of movement.
When To Test God
When To Test God 212 300 The Provisum Group

Malachi 3:10 says:

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”

All throughout scripture, God tells us not to test him except for in this single verse. When God speaks through the words of Malachi and says “test me on this”, we see that it is both a command and a promise. Money and possessions are universal. Almost everyone has something, of which he can part with a tenth. This means that the promise of Malachi 3:10 is available to everyone.

God doesn’t need our money. He just wants us to develop a faith that’s big enough to trust him as we give it away. For God to pass the test he set up for himself, he has to respond to our tithing by pouring out abundance on our households.

Every pastor must have enough faith to teach this principle and trust God to do what he said he would do. Yet countless pastors neglect to ask because they fear making their congregants uncomfortable. They need to remember that we serve a God who says the stars and planets are but vapor in his breath. Your finances may be a big deal to you, but never to God. Trust him. Test him.

Price Is Not Cost
Price Is Not Cost 300 300 The Provisum Group

When we compare potential church projects, we ask, “What is the cost of this?” “What is the cost of that?” But what we are really asking for are prices. Yet in business terms, the difference between price and cost is that price is what you pay for a thing, and cost is what you give up, don’t get, or give away. It’s like investing. When investing you want to measure return on investment. Price is what you pay. Return is what you get. In the Church, the return is how many people we reach for Christ. In the Church, the cost has to be measured in the resources we allocate (cost) plus how many people we do not reach (opportunity cost) because of our decisions, or lack of decision.

We cannot simply measure costs in dollars, resources and time. Start looking at the money your church spends as investments in God’s Kingdom, not the price of goods and services. But most importantly, measure costs in people not having an opportunity to hear the Gospel if you do the safe easy thing instead of the scary God thing.

To learn more, download my book, Minding His Business. Learn more here.

How to Predict (and Grow) Giving in Your Church
How to Predict (and Grow) Giving in Your Church 300 231 The Provisum Group

 

One of the most overlooked and under-utilized assets in the church is your church’s database of donors and attendees.

When we fail to secure and build the database, it can be detrimental to our churches.

Churches should invest in managing and maintaining their database, as it stores empirical evidence of behaviors, desires, and contact information of people with a great or growing affinity to your organization. When you combine your attendance data with your data on donations and solicitation, your database becomes a fund-raising asset like no other.

Your database will actually direct you toward making money if you know the right questions to ask and how to find the answers. In your database lie the answers to questions such as these:

  • Who supports us?
  • What do our supporters like? Dislike?
  • Who is satisfied or dissatisfied with us?
  • Who is growing with us?
  • Who is leaving us?
  • Who is ready to give (more)?
  • How should we ask them to do so?
  • Who should ask them, and when?

Churches should consider data mining and predictive analytics available to them in their database. Churches should also protect their database. Secure it. Few people should touch it. Treat it like you treat cash.

If you protect your database, and look for information from it, you can help your church to continue to do great work in your community.

Bring Your Communications Tools Out of the Dark Ages
Bring Your Communications Tools Out of the Dark Ages 300 200 The Provisum Group

When it comes to church communications, people’s preferences vary. Some prefer email; others prefer getting their updates via the church bulletin; others use social media on their smart phone; and still other use the church’s smart phone app.

This is why every smart church has a “multimedia” communication strategy—so that each person has access to whatever message the church leadership wants to convey via his/her preferred channel, whether email, texting, “snail mail”, bulletins, apps, phone calls, and so forth.

So how should you build your multimedia strategy?

  • One message, multiple mediums. Everyone has a preferred medium for receiving and send information. Ignoring a medium equals ignoring people who need to hear your message.
  • You are not them. Remember that anecdotal is what you think and empirical is what you know. Remember when someone uses words like “nobody, everybody, always or never” they are offering their opinion. If “everyone” hates telemarketers, why do telemarketers keep calling? Because some people prefer to communicate in person.
  • You need to create a plan that will empower you to stick with it and send the agreed upon communications on time every time. It doesn’t work if you don’t execute.

Remember, A brilliant idea accomplishes nothing. Turning that idea into reality is how we impact our community for the Kingdom.