Experiment pays off

Author: Keith Osborn

Published on: 4 May 2021

How can a church future proof its giving? Well, it’s a journey, and it’s one we’re still on but these are some of the steps we – as a market town parish church - have taken so far.

A couple of years ago we realised that in order to make our giving more efficient, we needed to ask our congregation, if possible, to change the default means by which they gave. At the time most people gave via envelopes and we had a relatively limited number of people who gave directly by standing order. With some careful explanation, gentle reminders and making the process easy, we now have the majority of our income paid directly into the bank. This has had two benefits: a reduction in admin time and paperwork; and continuing opportunities to remind people to sign up for Gift Aid. Again, as a result of this change in the way the congregation was encouraged to give, we now have around 70% of our core regular giving Gift Aided. This has made an enormous difference to our cash flow.

At the time we introduced these changes, we also began to publish a budget forecast for the upcoming year so that the congregation could easily understand and see this as the background to their giving. And we experimentally stopped circulating the collection plate during our service too, instead leaving it by the entrance for people to use if they wished: this was also by means of encouraging a different approach. Our concern that giving would decline as a result proved completely unfounded and this is now our permanent practice. Since that time, we have implemented a GoodBox Core contactless donation terminal in the church (courtesy of an offer from the diocese), and more recently have signed up with Dona Donations, a Christian technology company that provides online giving webpages that can be incorporated onto a church’s own website. As a result of coronavirus these have been fairly slow to start but we are expecting them to become far more active over the coming months and years. Dona Donations are even going to work with us to facilitate our running a Virtual Christmas Tree Festival this year in place of our normal successful physical event.

During these last difficult few months, we have really seen God bless our efforts to streamline our core giving and we have also noticed that members of the congregation, and others, have used the newer online means of giving to supplement their core giving or to make one-off gifts. We are looking forward to the future and to facilitating further changes as necessary to make the blessing of giving to God’s work (which of course is far more than just the church building) even more fulfilling.

The author...

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Keith Osborn

Churchwarden, Fakenham (Parish)

Hillside Lodge
Swaffham Road
NR21 7DZ

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