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The 3% Initiative: 6 Steps to Increase Giving in Your Church

The Center for Church Leadership is excited to launch The 3% Initiative to enhance your congregation’s ability to execute culturally relevant ministry, invest in strategic growth efforts, and meet the current and future financial needs of the ministry staff – all by increasing your church’s financial giving by 3% each year over a five-year period. Generosity expert Barry Cameron, author of The ABC’s of Financial Freedom and Contagious Generosity, will serve as your Generosity Coach through monthly blogs, Summit presentations, and the 3% Initiative Toolbox.

Is your church positioned to experience a 3% increase in giving this year? Are you, your ministries, and your leaders aligned to encourage your members to embrace God-honoring stewardship?  This method is developed by Barry Cameron, along with corresponding commentary and action steps that will help you inspire and empower your members to give faithfully.

1. Teach on stewardship

Congregational behavior begins at the pulpit. People generally embrace behaviors and values that are regularly communicated by the preacher. Stated more basically, you have not because you ask not. Make your people comfortable talking and thinking about generosity by making it a normal part of your preaching and teaching plan.

Action Plan:

 Preach at least one series every year on money management that honors God.

 Ask your congregation every year to commit, via a Commitment Card, to tithe and give beyond the tithe.

 Launch an ongoing, resourced, and well-promoted Financial Stewardship ministry (e.g., The ABC’s, Contagious Generosity, Dave Ramsey, etc.)

2. Raise the standard of expectation among all leaders

A universal law of human behavior is that people will not exceed the level of engagement and discipline modeled by the leaders. If your leaders are not consistently participating, your people will not consistently participate. If your leaders are not serving, your people will not serve. And, if your leaders are not tithing, your people will not tithe.

Action Plan:

 Require every leader, without exception, to be at least a tither.

3. Promote online giving

The average church attender misses at least one weekend worship service every month and it is very easy for giving patterns to mirror attendance. Online giving and saving is a great way to promote strategic personal money management, and a significant benefit to the church is that it creates increased discipline and consistency.

Action Plan:

 Encourage every member to be an online giver and an online saver.

 Make it easy to give online via your web site and/or mobile app.

4. Use giving boxes instead of passing an offering bag, plate, or bucket.

If you are hesitant to mothball your offering plates, consider that the widow who gave “out of her poverty” did not put her coins in plates that were being passed (Mark 12:41-44). Boxes simplify the collection of tithes and offerings, both for the giver and for the church. Finally, giving boxes also have practical benefits, one being that people who are giving online will appreciate not having to feel embarrassed that they never put anything in the offering plates.

Action Plan:

 Establish consensus among your elders and other church leaders regarding the decision to move to giving boxes.

 Provide a biblical rationale through preaching that prepares your congregation for the change to giving boxes.

 Develop policies, procedures, and accountability systems that ensure that tithes and offerings will be kept secure and confidential.

 Create a ministry team that manages the offering boxes.

 Maintain a time in the service to promote giving, describe methods for giving, and encourage online giving.

5. Show people the impact of their giving

One of the best ways to motivate people to give is to provide evidence that their generosity is creating real positive change in the lives of real people. And it’s not that they are skeptical about the way you manage the church’s finances. There is just something powerful that happens in the mind and heart when someone comes face-to-face with the fact that their giving is helping the church be the hands and feet of Christ in practical ways.

Action Plan:

 Empower an Impact Champion who will collect and convey transformation stories.

 Launch a “Change for a Dollar” initiative: Ask people to give $1 more each week, give that away to needy people each week, and tell the story of how it is used each week.

 Show video testimonies of people who have participated in or benefited from mission trips, youth events, and other ministry efforts the church supports.

6. Keep the vision in front of your people.

People are likely to give when they see the practical ways their gifts are transforming lives and furthering God’s Kingdom but they are inspired to live out biblical stewardship when they align with the vision for WHY giving is important. In fact, people will care much less about WHAT and HOW when they are fully bought into the WHY.

Action Plan:

 Work with your leaders to create and formally adopt a “Why Statement” for giving.

 Clearly and consistently communicate the “Why Statement” in speech, in print, and on your web site and social media pages.

Jeffrey Derico, PhD
Center for Church Leadership
Content Specialist