Five financial stewardship quick fixes

Progressively bigger stacks of coins grow plant shoots.
 on April 2, 2024

With vestry meetings in the rear-view mirror now in most parishes across the diocese, it’s time to make good on your parish’s stewardship objectives. If your parish is feeling the effects of three years of sluggish giving during the pandemic with a balance sheet in the red, you can take comfort in the fact that there is a way forward. Parishes can avert a structural deficit by introducing easy-to-implement best practices that have proven to improve the bottom line.

While it’s never a bad idea to invest in year-round stewardship education, sometimes a parish needs a quick fix that will arrest offertory decline and get things back on track. Here are five proven giving techniques that can be implemented right now to help restore health to your parish’s financial picture.

The 13th month. This is often introduced as a stop gap at the end of the year to make sure a parish doesn’t live beyond its means. In days gone by, a generous benefactor might provide a “bridge” gift to ensure security. But why wait until December? With many congregants receiving a tax refund in April, now is the perfect time to ask for an extra month’s giving. Equaling about 8.5 per cent of one’s annual gift, a 13th month will help alleviate much of the inflationary shock parishes have experienced over the last couple of years.

An hour’s pay. With the average household giving to church ministry somewhere around 1.5 per cent of net household income, it wouldn’t take much to achieve fiscal security – so long as everyone followed suit. While a biblical injunction of 10 per cent carries weight for many Christians, the truth is that a consistent level of giving equal to about 2.5 per cent from salary or retirement income would ensure vibrant programming in almost every parish. Begin promoting an hour’s pay, and perhaps church members will make it a normalized pattern of giving.

Aim of 50 per cent PAR participation. Prior to the pandemic, only three parishes in the diocese had at least 50 per cent of their givers using Pre-Authorized Remittance for the offertory giving. As of 2023, nearly 65 parishes have achieved that milestone. In addition, 10 parishes have at least 70 per cent PAR usage. PAR givers demonstrate their commitment to first fruits theology by ensuring that their gift is consistent, regular and reliable. Make a commitment today to enroll in PAR. If you already use PAR, please prayerfully consider giving a 13th month.

Invite newcomers to give. It’s not enough to simply leave boxes of envelopes or PAR enrollment forms at the church entrance. Newcomers (and non-givers) need to be invited to give. In fundraising theory, it is frequently noted that a would-be donor needs to be asked seven times before they commit. There is an expectation that churchgoers intuitively know they should give, but that’s just not the case. People need to be asked – and sometimes it needs to be personal. If you host regular gatherings for newcomers, don’t neglect to invite their offering. Remember, all the seats in the church are free, though the ministry needs of the parish are provided by all who attend.

Get a quick response (QR) code. Increasing numbers of parishes are acquiring a QR code from Though there is a service charge associated with this giving vehicle, it is rapidly becoming a popular choice for Gen Z, Millennials or anyone who eschews carrying cash. The QR code is a unique matrix barcode that connects your phone to a donations page and makes giving quite easy. The code can be easily inserted into your service bulletin, on your webpage or on a screen during online worship. Like tap or text to give, a QR code is new giving technology. Like PAR 20 years ago, it represents the next generation of giving and will soon be a normative choice in the charitable sector.

Any of these suggestions can be incorporated into annual or year-end giving patterns. But why wait? It’s April, and we’re a third of the way into the new year. With thoughts of summer just around the corner, invite members of your congregations to make a commitment to increase their gift today so that 2024 becomes the year your parish is able to overcome the post-pandemic drag.


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