Building up Trust...
Building up trust between your church and your donors is immensely important. If your donors feel that the money they are giving will not be properly used, they will stop giving. Building up this trust is a gradual process - trust takes time and patience to build, but there are a few things that will really help.
It is important to be transparent with your finances. This helps build trust and helps people know that their donations are being cared for and used for the purposes they want. You will want to think about how the financial information is transmitted, especially to those who are not financially literate. Think about it similarly to preaching, what is the key message you want people to understand, how do you get to this conclusion and what stories come from these figures. Likewise you may want to provide this information in different forms: spoken, using graphs, using stories and experiences and using figures, so that everyone can be involved.
With your Annual Accounts
- Think about what your headline is - have you had a good or bad financial year?
- Ensure that the full accounts are available for anyone who wants to read them.
- Present the finances using graphs to emphasise the key figures.
- Let people know what this means for the Church - we have been able to pay Minsitry Share in full, which pays for our clergy, the building fund has been used to help repair the roof.
- Say where you would like the finances to be next year - we want to rebuild reserves, we want to raise £10,000 to set up a dementia cafe, etc.
Throughout the year
- Quarterly or monthly let people know where the finances are at - again, think about the headline, maybe include a couple of graphs or key figures in the newsletter.
- If things are going well, or something you wanted to achieve has been achieved let people know.
- Say thank you, especially after a large fundraising campaign or event.
Saying thank you is one of the most important ways to build trust. It shows to your donor that you are grateful for their donation and this encourages them to give again. In a recent survey of nearly 2,000 Anglicans less than a third said they were regularly thanked for their giving. This means that even if you do say thank you, it may not be being heard.
We strongly suggest that you write to say thank you to your donors at least annually and let them know your latest news. An example letter, which you can personalise can be found here. As mentioned below make sure you include both numerical information and good news stories.
You might also want to send a thank you card. This adds a personal touch and gives the individual something they can display and that will remind them of the church. Think about whether you want to send these to just those who give money, or more likely, include those who cannot give financially, but might give in other ways. Similarly, you can always send cards to those who are no longer able to make it to church physically, but you know are still praying for you.
You may want to consider having a special service once a year to say thank you for donors, and this is especially helpful when you have a number of beneficiaries who do not usually attend your services.
n.b. some people will ask for a receipt for their donation, possibly for tax purposes. It is important to give one if asked for, but it is also worth including a thank you letter.
It is important to let people know what you have done with their donations. If you have been raising funds for a particular ministry or project, this can be quite easy, letting them know when the project is completed and including photos and good news stories.
If they have given to the General Funds, you can say what you have done and achieved over the past year, what you are wanting to do next year. It is also helpful to send a leaflet (one side of A5) explaining graphically what money has come in and what has gone out.
If your church is on social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, remember to let people know via these as well. While, you might only want to write to donors once a year, you can keep them updated more frequently through social media. Remember a picture speaks a thousand words!
If you have a particular good news story of giving in your church and the effects this has had, please do let us know at the Diocesan offices. We love to hear your stories and let others know of the wonderful work you are doing. You can either contact Chris Boden, our Stewardship Officer, or Sam Setchell, our Director of Communications.