One quarter of 2012 is almost over so you need to prepare now to send out your first quarterly contribution statement of the year. Some churches send out statements only once a year – let me encourage you to send out statements each quarter plus one more:
- 1Q2012 – send out in the first 10 days of April
- 2Q2012 – send out in the first 10 days of July
- 3Q2012 – send out in the first 10 days of October
- 4Q2012 – send out the yearly statement by January 31
- Send out a statement for the first eleven months (January through November) in the first 10 days of December. Why? So that people can see what they’ve given or not given so far in the year.
But let’s get back to 1Q2012!
Sending a statement out in early April makes sense for several reasons:
- Use this opportunity to send a letter with the statement of contributions explaining to people what their money has been used for. They want to know what the church did with it – so tell them all the good things you’ve been doing and are planning to do. Share with them a couple of compelling stories – that will make all the difference in the world to some readers.
- At this time of year (tax-filing season in the US), people’s awareness of how much they’ve given or not (and thus able to deduct from their tax return) is heightened. Since many people have just completed their annual tax forms, they’re making promises to themselves to give more away to charity so they can give less to the government. Sending a letter in early April gives them a great reminder to give a check to their church.
- Easter is typically in early April. Most Christians will come to church on Easter and they’ll usually hear a sermon about God’s gift to us through Christ. They will hear about giving and sacrifice – this letter is a way to encourage them to tangibly respond with their own gifts.
- Gentle reminders throughout the year of how much people give to their church are good for both the church and the donor. These reminders are not heavy-hitting or guilt-inducing. These letters are simply nudges in reminding people to be financially faithful to their church – and you’re sending these letters to the people who have already “bought in” to the vision of the church, they’re already giving!
So, here’s your homework for this weekend: find two great stories about what has happened in your church these past three months (since Christmas), put them in a letter, and send the letter with the quarterly statement of contributions.
Oh, one very important fact: send your letters with first class postage. Yes, that is a lot more expensive than bulk mail. But realize that the “open rate” (as opposed the “throw in the trash can rate”) of first class stamped envelopes to bulk mail envelopes is something like five to one (don’t quote me on that ratio, but it is way up there). People will open an envelope with first class postage far more often – and you want people to open envelopes to read the letter and the statement of contributions. Okay, back to your homework.