Want to Boost Year-End Giving? Tell Stories.

Inspire your people by helping them get a glimpse of what your ministry is accomplishing.

Stories encourage empathy. They help us understand problems and circumstances in new ways. And they provide tangible examples of God’s work in our communities.

If your church wants to maximize year-end giving, you need to tell compelling stories about what God is doing through your congregation’s giving.

Here’s how to do that.

Seek Out Testimonies of Personal Change.

Your ministry leaders, small group leaders and volunteers are all great sources for compelling stories. They’re on the ground, witnessing the direct impact of your ministry—and likely experiencing it themselves. Throughout the year, these people can be your church’s eyes and ears to help identify the people with the most powerful stories of how God has changed their lives through your ministry.

You might also consider using a designated “story team” to proactively seek out the kinds of stories that affirm your church’s mission and vision.

A lot of ministry activities don’t easily translate into any kind of monetary return on investment (ROI) for your church. Church members can’t say, “If I give my church X dollars, they’ll turn it into XX dollars.” Testimonies from people whose lives have been changed by your ministries reinforce that the “ROI” from your ministry is measured in people, not profits.

Translate Gifts Into Something Tangible.

Even with personal testimonies, it’s hard for people to realize the direct impact of their gifts—and it’s easy to feel like small gifts simply don’t matter. But all those small gifts add up, and they’re crucial to your ministry. And that’s why it’s so important for your church to translate dollars into outcomes.

Every $3 provides a meal for a homeless person.
$25 fills a backpack with school supplies for a second-grader.
$10 puts a Bible in the hands of a new believer.

This is also why you should create separate funds within your giving app—so people can give directly to the causes, ministries and goals they feel called to support. By translating dollars into concrete needs, you show people exactly what they’re helping you do, and how their gifts fit into the larger story of your ministry.

Offer Examples of What Giving Has Accomplished

Any story gets more compelling if you can add numbers that matter. Consider the impact of a powerful testimony that culminates in baptism. Now what if you could tell your congregation that 10, 20, 50 or 100 new people were baptized this year, or last month?

What if you told the story of how your church helped someone get back on their feet by providing meals downtown, and then you could share how many hundreds of meals you provide to the needy each year?

Whatever your ministries do, it’s worth taking the time to calculate (or at least estimate) the number of people you’ve impacted and the collective gifts, services and tasks your church has accomplished together. Each data point can supplement your individual stories, and collectively, they tell a larger story of the impact your church has had.

Highlight Stories in a Variety of Ways.

There are lots of ways to tell a story. And each way will reach different people and present different opportunities.

If your story involves someone who’s comfortable and effective speaking in front of others, that can be a valuable way to strengthen the personal impact of their story. For someone less comfortable with public speaking, you might want to record a video or have someone they know and trust interview them. Or maybe they can just write an email, blog post or social media update.

For community projects, you should always plan to take before and after photos to help people visualize what actually changed as a result of your work.

The medium you use to tell your story depends on how important that story is to your church, how compelling the story is and which format lends itself best to the story you want to tell.

Tell Stories About Needs, Not Just Wins

If you want your story to lead people to give, you don’t just want it to look like a victory lap. If your congregation feels like the work is already done, they’ll be inspired, but not necessarily inspired to give. You want your congregation to see that your ministries are effective—but that you still need their help.

This is a good time to talk about your ministry’s goals, long-term vision and new initiatives. When you’re done telling your stories, you don’t just want people to applaud the accomplishment and move on. You need them to get involved—so your ministry can be part of more stories like the one you just told.

Connect Your Stories to Their Generosity

Whatever stories emerge from your ministry, and however you decide to tell them, be sure your congregation sees the role they play in those stories. Without their generosity, those stories don’t happen—or at least not nearly as often. God works through the resources they give back to him, and the more generously they live, the more your church can accomplish in his name.

First posted on Pushpay.com. Used by permission.