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How to Ask People to Give Even in a Pandemic

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“How can I ask people to give to our ministry when they are struggling and there are so many life-and-death places to give?” one church leader asked me recently. Here are my five best ideas on how to ask people to give, even in the most uncertain of times.

If you talk about money more in preaching and in leading it will get easier.

1. Give yourself.
It’s hard to ask people to do something you aren’t doing yourself. Give and tell people that you, too, are committed to the same practice you are asking of them. Now, if your own financial situation has changed, you may have had to reduce your giving. Give at least a small amount as a leadership practice.

2. Talk about money more.
Don’t limit talking about money to stewardship “season.” People deal with money every day. Many people are anxious about their financial future even if they haven’t had their income reduced due to the pandemic. It’s a pastoral responsibility to help them think about their money in the light of their faith — and not just so they can give more money to the church.

3. Tell the story.
Tell the story of where you’ve been this year and the work that has made it possible. Then share where you hope to go together in the next year. You can share what you know, and what you don’t know. “We don’t know when we will all be back together again. But we will be continuing to worship God, grow in faith through Zoom Bible studies, and share with our community through the box lunches in our feeding program.”

4. Ask.
When times are uncertain, you may be tempted not to explicitly ask people to give. Remember that giving blesses the giver and not everyone has less money right now. Don’t assume the pandemic means people can’t give. Go ahead and ask people to give as they as are able.

Acknowledge that people’s situation may have changed. Give them permission to change what they have given in the past, without guilt.

Just do it. Take a deep breath and ask. Remember what Jesus said in another context: “You do not have because you do not ask.”

5. Celebrate.
Celebrate the resources that you have in your church — past, present, and the gifts you anticipate in the future. Even if your giving is down, or you worry it might be down next year, celebrate what you do have and those who are giving. Find a way to thank people for their gift. Make it more than a pro forma line on their giving statement. Individual notes are the best. Give heartfelt thanks in worship weekly to those who support the church.

The pandemic changed much about our life as congregations. However, what hasn’t changed is the importance of continuing to invite people to support God’s work in the church and in world — for their own sake as well as for the sake of the ministry.

excerpt from a story by Margaret J. Marcuson, ordained American Baptist minister, leadership consultant and author

United Methodist Church Giving is about people working together to accomplish something bigger than themselves. In so doing, we effect change around the world, all in the name of Jesus Christ. To read stories about the generosity of United Methodists click here.

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