Tis the season for year-end charitable giving.  In America, many businesses give Christmas/Holiday/year-end bonuses, and charities are ready to receive a portion of that largess, to help offset the tax implications of the large influx of cash.

Some of us receive meager bonuses, or special pay at other times of the year, so it’s an interesting phenomenon to watch from the outside.  But for the enterprising charity, it can be a windfall, and some have come to rely on this time of year to stay ‘in the black.’

Today I received one of the most effective notices I’ve seen.  It was the end-of-year tax statement.  Normally, these come in January, since most organizations don’t want to spend the extra accounting time calculating the receipt twice.  But this charity has found a way to make the effort pay off.

Team Impact is an impressive ministry.  About a dozen strong men travel around giving shows.  It’s easy to get a crowd to show off extraordinary feats of strength: bending frying pans, tearing phone books, breaking blocks and crashing through ice walls.  In schools they give a message of strength and humility, of good character.  And they invite the kids and their parents to the church for an evening repeat performance.  At the church house, they can give Christian testimony and offer an altar call.  It’s effective.

What they did today that was effective was to send the receipt for my token gift before the end of the tax year, along with ministry information and a donation envelope.  It puts them top of mind, reminding me of how I supported them back in April, with a gentle request for continued giving, inside a mailer they are required by law to send me.  They did not waste the opportunity.

The biggest take-away is to always give existing donors an opportunity to support you again.

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How can your church provide value to your community, and get them in the door?  What community-based services can you offer for free that will also build your church’s financial bottom line?

According to CareerBuilder, 61% of workers surveyed said they always or usually live paycheck to paycheck just to make ends meet.  It’s a problem even among workers earning $100,000 or more, with 30% living with no savings.

A fifth said they have reduced  contributions to savings in the past six months to get by.  Some workers make ends meet by dipping into their long-term savings.   36% of workers said they don’t contribute to any kind of retirement savings plan, and 33% don’t save any money at all.

That’s a dangerous situation to be in.  If calamity happens, or they get laid off, there’s no cushion. And without retirement savings, they will probably be working well into their 70s, and die without an inheritance for the spouse.

If they are your church members, they probably are not contributing much, and almost certainly not tithing.  I know of one church that found church leaders unable to contribute more than token amounts because the household budget took all the income.

When your church teaches financial literacy, you remove stress in the marriages, and give them opportunities to be generous.  Church members begin to contribute more.  Those outside the church have disposable incomes to give to other charity, and build the quality of life in the community.

And the church gains a good reputation among its neighbors.  Maybe some will come back to hear the gospel.