“When we embark on the adventure of giving, when we give freely, we become just a little more free ourselves… We can all say with our mouths what we believe about God, but what we truly believe will be manifested in our actions.”
Giving is first a response: recognition of what has been given to us, accompanied by conviction in God’s provision. Conviction and trust can spur us to give beyond what we even thought was possible. In the Church, we often refer to this surrender as stewardship. Stewards receive the gifts entrusted to their care and use them in service of the Giver’s mission.
As your parish looks to unfold the spiritual and practical implications of giving this Advent season, it may be worth asking the question: why do we give to the church?
#1. Belief in the mission
In a recent conversation on giving, Lisa Sliker, parish administrator of the thriving Our Lady of Perpetual Help parish in Ellicott City, Maryland, summarized parish mission as, ‘A call to be Christ in our community; a call that must be woven into all we do.’
Empowered by the Holy Spirit, parish events, programs, initiatives, must make known the greatest mission: to love the Lord our God with our all, to give Christ in us, the greatest gift, to the world. Through the sacraments we are made new, relationship with Jesus Christ truly transforms lives.
If you believe in the mission, this must be the question: if Christ has changed your life, how are you being called to offer this gift to the next person?
#2. A gift of self, understanding how we give
Look at Jesus, and we will see that mission starts with invitation, followed by relationship. Then, formed through teaching and fellowship, we are increasingly drawn to service.
At Our Lady of Perpetual Help (OLPH) parish, the emphasis is on giving out of who we are. We receive the gift of our identity, and it is unique and irreplaceable. When we are drawn to give of ourselves – expressed through time, talent, and treasure – we offer what no one else can. Generosity that aligns with our natural talents, spiritual gifts, and passions is animated by an energy that obligation simply cannot provide.
How are you helping your parishioners to understand their identity and “embark on the adventure of giving”?
#3. Transparency and trust
At Nexus 2017 we were privileged to welcome several CPA’s (Certified Public Accountants) who have extensive experience in not only best practices in parish and diocesan accounting, but also the alarming occurrence of fraud and embezzlement in the Church.
Many diocesan employees and independent accountants we have surveyed tell us that parishes that have committed to abiding by the highest standards of transparency and proper financial controls have seen not only increased giving, but also increased participation in parish life and ministries!
Theft is a wound in the heart of our parishes, but it’s a wound that is nearly always preventable. So let’s consider this question: if doing things properly on the financial side also has the potential to avoid wounds, keep ministry funds safe, and lead people to engagement opportunities, which in turn leads them to deeper communion in the Body of Christ, why would we do anything less than our very best?
How is your parish committed to sustaining donor confidence? Are your financial practices and transparency where they need to be?
#4. Enable giving
Giving will look different for everyone. Is your parish open to receive? Intentionally guiding the process through teaching, communicating, and opening more channels to give will go a long way toward removing obstacles to giving.
Online giving was up 7.9% in 2016, and overall revenue from online fundraising grew by 14%. In other words, online giving is here to stay. You may have a sizable demographic that is accustomed to envelopes, but there is a growing segment that prefers to give online.
Donors may be ready and waiting for your invitation to sign on with an online giving option from your parish. If you already have an online giving option in place, be sure to continue communicating – marketing – that option, and make it easy to find on your website. Parish-branded giving sites, mobile apps, text-to-give, and giving kiosks, are modern tools that offer convenience and transparency that today’s givers and churches need.
A Case Study
Our Lady of Perpetual Help serves dinner weekly to those in need near an inner city parish in Baltimore. The fifth Saturday of the month, they are also committed to providing dinner. Through online giving, parishioners donate the money necessary to purchase supplies. Another volunteer serves by shopping for food and supplies. Yet another will drive it to the parish, where an OLPH team is ready to offer the warmth of hospitality and serve dinner.
Each parishioner empowered to give as they feel called and are able; each act of service is interdependent and inspires the other. As Sliker says, “Once someone has the experience of serving in Baltimore, they’re eager to donate, to buy pillows, blankets, and toothbrushes, whatever is needed.” The same can be said for parishioners whose donations help fund the ministry. Seeing pictures and hearing other parishioners experience of the event, further affirms the value and necessity of their contribution. Each gift is necessary and can be an authentic gift of self!
For more information on the increase in online giving trends, please see our blog article The Future of Giving. To learn how ParishSOFT Giving can enable your mission call Chad at 866.930.4774 ext. 7, or register for a free demo!
 Margaret Feinberg, “Answering the Quiet Call,” generousgiving.org/media/videos/margaret-feinberg-answering-the-quiet-call.
 Francis Chan, “From Pastor to Millionare…Giver!” vimeo.com/25466626.
 Psalm 139
 A few excellent resources many have found helpful are Catherine of Siena Institute’s Called and Gifted, siena.org/called-gifted, MCore: Your Motivational Blueprint, motivationalcore.com.
 Nonprofit Source, “Online Giving Trends”, nonprofitssource.com/online-giving-statistics.