August 28, 2020 | by JB Brayfindley
“Giving is increasing but the way [people] give and how they are inspired is shifting,” stated Rev. Dr. Reggie Nichols, CNUMC Director of Leadership Development, who emceed the final Wednesday Webinar series on August 26, 2020. The discussion featured two guest panelists, Executive Advisor of Contour Strategies, LLC, Bill Hautt and Executive Director of California-Nevada United Methodist Foundation, David Malloy.
What has happened to your church’s giving since COVID-19 shutdowns in March? The session began with screen sharing a chart entitled, “State of the Plate” which graphed the results of a poll on church giving of more than 706 non-denominational and mainline denominational churches across 49 states. The poll was taken by the National Association of Evangelicals.
Results showed that in 22% of the churches, giving was up. Thirty seven percent showed that giving is down. Forty three percent of giving is stable.
Panelists agreed that this is not surprising. Referring to “The Generous Church Leadership Course” (https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/generouschurchleadership), Dr. Nichols quoted:
“Giving in recessions is undervalued. Economic downturns can cause panic across all sectors, especially the nonprofit sector. The concern is deep, and the messaging reflects concern, if not panic. It is hard to convince nonprofit leaders not to panic. However, the history of philanthropy in the U.S. during recessions should encourage these leaders to hit the “pause” button.”
Dr. Hautt explained the 80/20 strategy in which leadership recognizes that eighty percent of donated money comes from twenty percent of constituents. The ratio assists in determining how to raise funds and develop financial campaigns.
Malloy referred to the book, “The Unstuck Church” by Tony Morgan that lists seven shifts churches need to understand in order to adjust to the pandemic.
“What is happening in this pandemic,” Malloy stated, “is [churches] have figured out a new way to connect to their people.”
Panelist discussed making giving accessible through various means including digitally but emphasized the need for connection and communication. Hautt encouraged church leaders to read ”Building A Story Brand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen,” by Donald Miller. The book explains how important the story of donors are—why they are giving and who it affects. It emphasizes stories about individuals and what they are facing, And, to remember to thank the donors.
“Missional work has a lot of stories—storytelling helps people understand,” said Malloy explaining why people increase giving during difficult times to specific causes such as to UMCOR and other relief efforts.
Dr. Nichols gave a four-point summary of being intentional about what churches are need and why they are doing what they do: