It’s common for churches to see what’s been thoughtfully (or painfully) coined “the summer giving slump” where giving declines for most churches (between May and August). Many churches see a twenty percent or more hit in giving during these months due to members being on vacation, going to BBQs, traveling with family, etc.
As you can imagine, for any pastor, knowing your church income is going to drop by over 20% is a terrifying future to look forward to.
Of course, you can be diligent and plan for this. You can think “this is normal” and be OK with it. Or, you can choose to believe that it doesn't have to be this way and take steps to put the summer giving slump to rest, once and for all!
It’s for those pastors and church leaders that we offer this piece. We hope some of the practical tips and advice we share with you will lead you on a path that does away with the summer giving slump once and for all.
1. Teach on generosity leading up to the summer months.
Part of your teaching on generosity can include making the church aware of the historical decline in attendance and the impact on giving. It’s OK to be honest with the church. It’s OK to show them what the decrease in giving means and what could be done if this decline wasn’t there. It's also OK to share scriptures about tithing in the Bible. The one caution I’d share with you is to be sure this messaging isn’t the bulk of your teaching. Be sure to keep this portion informative and non-guilt-trip-y in tone.
2. Plan for a GREAT summer at your church.
Summer is an amazing time of year that many look forward to. A time that families come together! BBQs! Swimming. Late nights out at the park, beach, recreation center, movies, and so much more. It’s a time to rejuvenate and enjoy some of the things God has blessed us with – family, fun, and the great outdoors.
Instead of chalking it up, why not make the summer season an unforgettable one at your church? Sure, some folks will be traveling, vacations will come, people will be busy with a lot of activities, but don’t let that stop you from making your church services, programs, and experiences amazing.
Plan for it. Give people something they’ll remember and look forward to for years to come.
Here are a few ideas (h/t LifeWay):
- Put together family fellowship events that happen on Saturday or Sunday after church – lunch, followed by water slides, inflatables, volleyball, etc. Challenge your people to invite their neighbors to attend church and stay for the meal and game time.
- Plan a “summer nights series” of outdoor worships and fellowship.
- Stage an outdoor Christian music concert.
- Produce a Christian dinner theatre dramatic production.
- Why not morph your church-wide picnic into a city-wide event, with special invitations to VBS and church daycare families?
- Do a free outdoor family movie night, projecting on a large exterior wall.
- For the Sunday prior to July 4th, plan a “red, white and blue jean” Sunday. Invite local government leaders to attend your worship service, present them a gift, and voice a prayer for them.
- Organize a Wii sports league with multiple projections on a large exterior wall.
- Do a reading club or weekly kids' story hour in the church library.
- Organize a community bike ride that ends at the church with a big lunch or dinner for all involved.
- Invite the community to join you for outdoor tournaments, such as volleyball, horseshoes, softball, bocce ball, 3-on-3 basketball.
3. Introduce online and mobile giving before summer hits.
Remember, $0 are received from people who miss church if there are no digital giving options available.
Online giving and mobile giving tools allow your church to give anywhere, anytime. Right? Of course, that all sounds nice, but do people really give when they are not sitting in service? We had the same question so we decided to dig into the data.
We just recently published significant church giving research that clearly shows churches can overcome the summer giving slump if they effectively implement online and mobile giving tools.
Many churches see a 20%+ drop in giving during the summer, but those churches effectively using Tithe.ly actually saw giving steadily climb straight through the summer months.
The fact is that giving people great mobile first options enables anytime, anywhere giving. Vacation, work, travel, sick, rained or snowed in, regardless of the reason, when people can give by mobile app, web, or text, they’ll do it even if they’re not in the building on Sunday morning.
The “Summer Slump” is 100% based on the fact that people have to be “in church” to give. You have the power to change that by providing your church with digital giving tools.
The key is to have online and mobile giving options in place well before summer and in early April, promote these digital ways to give.
4. Educate people on recurring giving.
Across the Tithe.ly platform, 13% of all giving is set up as recurring. That’s not bad, but it could be so much better!
By providing online and mobile giving you’re making it as easy as possible for people to set up recurring giving, but the real key to getting a large percentage of people set up to give automatically is to education them on the feature and ASK them to do it.
Be bold and ask that people turn on automated weekly or monthly giving! And thank them in advance for doing it.
5. Use e-mail effectively.
No matter how amazing your summer church schedule is, people will still go on vacation—and they should! That’s where the power of email comes in. During the summer months be sure to really hone in on using email effectively. Our suggestion is to send weekly emails that are fun, useful, and informative.
You could easily send weekly emails to the church that include:
- A reminder that the latest sermon is live so they can listen online.
- A weekly bible study or article.
- The results/stories of impact from your weekly programing.
- Upcoming events/info on church activities.
- A simple and not-in-your-face mention of the fact that people can give online.
6. Show appreciation.
There’s incredible power in gratitude showing itself in the form of public appreciation and saying those magic words, “Thank You”.
In fact, LOTS of really awesome things happen when we show our appreciation and sincerely thank someone for what they do. Here are a few of those awesome things according to one publication:
- Produces positive emotional state
- Increases sense of well being
- Triggers ‘feel good’ hormones
- Re-enforces virtuous cycle in your brain
- Feels higher levels of self worth
- Triggers greater desire to help Thanker
- Triggers helpful behaviors toward others
- Appreciate being needed
- Feel more socially valued
As you move through the summer, be sure to thank people for their engagement, service, and giving. For those not in attendance, be sure they hear the “thank you’s” via your weekly email, social media, personal text messages, and the old fashioned phone call.
7. Report back.
If you started the summer letting people know about the fact that giving declines and that you’d like the church to rally around you and stop the summer slump, then it’s only appropriate that you share the results!
That said, you likely have a lot of information to share and good news to encourage people with as God was at work during that time. Use the months after summer to encourage your church with what God did during the summer and inform them on how giving went on at the same time.
My guess is that if God was at work, your church had an incredible summer, you preached the Good News, and you gave people the ability to give online or via mobile app, then giving likely went UP!
So What's Next?
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