By Curtis Simmons

Best Practices for Churches Communicating About Giving During a Crisis

The leadership and tone you use in your communications will help instill confidence in your givers. Strengthen your own confidence and messaging with these tips.

Overcome your discomfort with talking about giving

Click here to download 35+ pages of TIPS, RESOURCES and SAMPLE EMAILS for effectively, yet sensitively, engaging your givers.

It’s normal to feel uncomfortable or even self-serving when asking for gifts during a crisis. To be effective, it’s important to realize that, yes, some givers are going to pull back on giving. But what has always been true is this: Others will step up to help during times of extreme need.

Your members and your community need you more than ever, and many givers know this and will want to assist your efforts. But their generosity and willingness to shift their giving online will depend on your leadership and how well you are able to reconcile your desire to provide resources with your need to fund operations.

“Give donors the opportunity to surprise you,” says Amy Eisenstein, a leading fundraising consultant.

Revisit your mission

During a crisis, priorities shift. It’s time for Plan B, and you need to know what has changed before you start communicating. 

As the need to help the hungry, homeless, sick and elderly rises, and as you move online, how might this impact or redefine your usual mission:

  • What unexpected expenses have you incurred, such as tooling up to be an online church or providing services to the community?
  • What planned expenditures can be postponed?
  • What will your new volunteer needs be?

Being candid about what the church is doing to help in the crisis, how it’s tightening its belt and where it cannot, and which expenses and volunteer needs have escalated during the crisis will be appreciated.

Anticipate that many people can afford to give

Even when the economy looks rough, don’t make assumptions about what your givers can or cannot give. Many churches actually see an uptick in contributions during a crisis.

You might be surprised at how many (and which) of your givers have enough wealth to continue giving or even to give more. Others work in industries that have continued to thrive despite (or because of) the crisis. And many will be touched by rising needs and happily make sacrifices in their own budgets because they truly believe we’re all in this together.

So be bold and ask for what you truly need.

Give major givers the personal touch

This group deserves special attention. Make a list of your top givers and schedule actual or virtual meetings with them as soon as possible.

Open your conversation by asking how they, their families and businesses are doing. Then let them know the specific challenges you are facing and the specific ministry opportunities that could use their financial support.

Thank your givers

Gratitude is even more important when people are worried, impacted by crisis or stressed. Don’t take givers for granted. Go out of your way to let them know they’re appreciated.

Look for creative ways to ask

If someone completes a pledge, ask if they would like to transfer their gift amount to another ministry opportunity. Or, if you must cancel a paid event, ask ticket holders if they would like to donate their admission cost to help with current needs.

Be sensitive

Make sure none of your members are falling through the cracks. Someone feeling overlooked won’t appreciate a request for a gift, but those benefiting from or contributing to the church’s service to members and the community will be more likely to feel benevolent. Exclude families that are enduring known financial difficulties from your giving requests.

Download our Free Crisis Communication Kit

Click here to download 35+ pages of TIPS, RESOURCES and SAMPLE EMAILS for effectively, yet sensitively, engaging your givers.