When someone gives to a church, amazing things can happen. People meet Jesus. Lives are changed. Communities are transformed.
But giving money to a church isn’t the beginning of generosity. Generosity enables ministry, but ministry includes helping people develop a generous heart and live in a way that prioritizes God-honoring financial stewardship and generosity.
Recent statistics have shown that 75–90% of church members do not tithe. They’ve also shown that 64% of givers say establishing trust is essential before donating. This suggests that building relationships is a key part of activating generosity, and this is an action that churches have an opportunity to tap into.
But helping your people live generous lives goes beyond asking them to give. How can you best plan and utilize the opportunities you have to talk to people about generosity?
That’s where our generosity framework comes in.
The generosity framework is a simple exercise that helps you conceptualize all of your generosity-related ideas and plans for your church. It provides a foundation for outlining what to do and is a great starting point for your planning process.
We created it to give church leaders a resource that emphasizes the multiple necessary parts of building a generous church culture. Our generosity framework focuses on three essential areas: helping, asking, and thanking.
Part I: Helping People
This part of the generosity framework is space for a church to focus on giving before they receive. Part one of the generosity framework is for showing, not just telling (or asking).
Of course, churches provide many resources for their people. But when it comes to finances, a key element in encouraging generosity is showing generosity toward people and teaching them how to live a generous life.
This showing and teaching can include forming a benevolence ministry that’s complete with policies and a team in place to make it happen.
Helping people can look like hosting financial classes at the church or organizing small groups that work through a Christian finance book together.
It can be outreach to local schools and organizations, which allows your church to see God’s heart for generosity toward others and one way their giving impacts the community when they give to the church.
However you decide to help people financially as a church, plan every step of it. Put finance classes on the calendar. Find people in your church who work in finance or are passionate about it to lead small groups. Set aside a month for giving to and volunteering at a local organization. Let people see generosity in action through their church.
Part II: Asking People
Once you have a plan in place to help people with their finances and their understanding of generosity, the next step is to outline how to ask them to give to the church.
If you give the same speech about giving every Sunday before the offering time, people will start to tune it out. But if you have a comprehensive plan to ask people in personalized, strategic ways, you’re more likely to get their attention and their “yes.”
In the first part of the generosity framework, you helped people understand that their “yes” to giving is really a “yes” to God and what He wants to do through the church. In part two, you use multiple channels to remind people of how the church stewards finances and specific needs that the church is raising funds for.
One way you can plan to ask people is by tying the ask to a story of someone in the church or community who was blessed by their giving. Share it on a Sunday either verbally from the stage or through a video. Or schedule coffee chats with people and have a conversation about the work the church is doing and the financial resources that are needed to accomplish it.
Running a big capital campaign isn’t the only time you can make a specific ask of people. Make stories of generosity a regular part of your church service and your conversations inside and outside of church.
Part III: Thanking People
From church volunteer appreciation to thanking key donors, never underestimate the power of a simple “thank you.” The third piece of our generosity framework is all about creating opportunities to thank people for their generosity. And helping people feel appreciated can play a major part in encouraging them to continue giving.
Choose which methods you’ll use to show appreciation and use our generosity framework template as a space to plan “when” and “how.” For example, thank you notes are a simple but noble method for thanking givers in your church. How soon after their giving will they receive a note in the mail? Who is responsible for executing that process?
Don’t hesitate to think outside the box and go beyond thank you notes. Plan to host events for the purpose of thanking people and sharing the impact their giving has made. Consider creating a newsletter that is only sent to regular givers with exclusive updates on how the church is stewarding finances and how their generosity is helping.
The most important function of our generosity framework is to help you create a solid plan for encouraging generosity in your church. Use it to examine your current practices and get strategic and organized to define ways to improve them. Apply what you’ve learned to outline how to help people live generously, intentional methods to ask people to give, and special ways to thank people.
Take the Next Step
If your current approach to teaching financial literacy and generosity hasn’t created a generous culture in your church, download the Generosity Framework Worksheet. This resource is simple but effective in helping you strategize and outline new ways to encourage generosity.