The season of generosity is here! There is evidence of the giving spirit scattered just about everywhere. Thanksgiving was barely a week ago, #GivingTuesday was less than 24 hours ago, and Christmas charitable initiatives, like food and toy donations, are posted in malls and shopping centers across America.
This increased fourth quarter giving seasonality is actually a commonly known phenomenon in the financial world. Larger amounts of money, time, or assets are given now more than any other time of year (outside of a natural or world disaster). Given this knowledge, churches typically plan and prepare for a potential influx of giving at the end of the year.
But what are people’s motivations to be generous? Well, honestly, a lot of it has to do with tax purposes. On a practical level, this makes sense. People are beginning to take a look at their taxes and where their finances are in preparation for the new year. But, that’s not to say that everyone has this motivation to give.
And people don’t always express their generosity in the same way. While baby boomers look at traditional monetary donations, millennials are thinking about generosity differently. According to a recent Barna study, service and emotional/relational support are the two most popular responses among American Christians when asked what actions they associate with the concept of “giving.” These two actions are closely followed by giving money, hospitality, and gifts. Surprisingly, donating money is third on the list, which might be a out of place to some, but that’s how this new generation is thinking about giving.
Generosity hasn’t always been an easy subject to approach in the church. Some pastors may be reluctant to speak on the topic because of some past errors that have been made surrounding the church and where their money goes. The fear that money or generosity may bring up bad memories for people (for example: reputation of the televangelists from days past or a lack of transparency) is a reason why people are reluctant to give or have a roadblock to the topic. But, that’s not to say that pastors and church leaders haven’t come a long way. With an atmosphere of discipleship becoming more and more integrated into churches, stewardship and financial responsibilities of believers is being taught in a different and more tangible way than ever before.
And that’s where a new era and mindset around giving has taken root. What if people saw beyond their current monetary funds available today and saw how to make their assets work for them in a charitable way? God has not only entrusted us with monetary funds, but also our personal assets.
And that’s where Steve Caton from The Giving Crowd comes into play. We recently sat down with him to talk about a new era of generosity and how pastors and church leaders can confidently speak about asset based generosity to their churches.
Steve Caton has a long background in financial management and church stewardship. As President of The Giving Crowd, Caton and his team work to open the door to the 91%, meaning they utilize money where it’s already the most invested: assets. People’s generosity usually comes from their bank accounts, but it doesn’t have to be limited only to cash.
Why Should Churches Be Involved In Asset Based Giving?
An asset is anything that you own. This could be a vehicle, a home, a car, and even businesses. Church leaders have the opportunity to be involved in asset based giving, because nobody else is. The church is in a unique position to fill the gap—we have people’s heart and have assisted in guiding their religious beliefs, so churches have a relationship already built where speaking into finances would not be out of place.
According to Caton, “People are most engaged and ready to be generous when their heart strings are involved. So, if you have the opportunity to tell stories about baptisms, transformed lives, community impact, kids or student ministry, do so.”
“People like transparency when it comes to what and how their money or assets are being used,” says Caton, “Once people connect to a story, give them the opportunity to repeat the cycle and contribute to something new. Provide traditional avenues to give like with a check or through texting, but also provide environments or workshops where they can learn more about what they can do with their assets.”
If you are thinking this may potentially sound self serving for the church or that this is an area where the church may not belong, it’s understandable why you are asking this question. How do these conversations even start? It’s all about effectively creating environments where education and awareness can happen. Then, let people help cast vision with you–here’s what God is calling us to do and why–and here’s how you can get involved.
“Think of it this way,” says Caton, “If someone is considering the sale of an appreciated asset , you have the opportunity as the church to come along side them and help them make wise decisions which can help them make a greater impact than they ever imagined, while also reducing or eliminating taxes they would really enjoy avoiding.”
Asset based giving could revolutionize the way you talk about generosity at your church. There are people who are interested in leveraging what they have to leave a great impact, but they don’t know how. Because financial planners and institutions work to protect money and assets, they don’t always explore completely all the ways you can uniquely give generously to the church. Keep the conversation going and let people know that this is another outlet for them to let their generosity flow, not just at the end of the year, but all year long.
Other resources about asset based giving to check out include the National Philanthropic Trust and Fishing On The Other Side curriculum, which was put together by key financial and religious leaders across the country.READ MORE
New Features & Enhancements
We have new things for you. Pretty much every week.
I have an aware3 app. Does churchOn apply to me? If you already have a branded mobile app with us, churchOn doesn’t apply to your congregation – it’s only for new church partners. To learn more about churchOn and the app ecosystem for new partners, click here.
churchOn Promo Video for Sunday
Ever noticed that saying, “We have an app!” only gets you so far?
Instead, show your app and what it can do!
For all churches inside the churchOn app, we have a free promo video for you. Check it out and share the video (https://a3a.me/bf59b) on social media and Sunday service.
Not running churchOn and interested in creating your own video? Sites like RenderForest are a great resource to keep the process simple.
Not one church in the world is exactly the same. Churches meet in different locations, have different worship styles, use different translations of the Bible, and even worship and preach in different languages. But, even with these differences, they are still unified under one God, and that’s a pretty incredible and unique thing, and exactly how God intended.
What does it take for churches to be their best selves? Some may say thoughtful and intentional prayer, strong, focused and God inspired leadership, or seeking wisdom from the Bible. All of these tactics are a great place to start for the success of a church, but church leaders also need each other, too.
Churches are often able to grow and develop through sharing community with one another. Local pastors and staff in an area often are familiar with each other and can even draw on each other for ideas, support, and inspiration. Humans are made for connection, after all, so getting together with like minded individuals that work in the same field isn’t out of the usual.
The only problem with collaboration is that it sometimes can turn into comparison. And while healthy comparison in hopes of gaining knowledge or facts is okay, your church’s unique vision and strategy can get lost if you are comparing for the wrong reasons.
It’s tempting to try to replicate a larger church or even a similar church in hopes that their method will help your church grow, too. If you are looking to grow or transform a ministry of your church, reflect your church’s values, culture, and vision to see sustainable solutions.
But what’s the best way to do that? Keep an open dialogue with your congregation. Communication at its best involves interaction with your congregation instead of only talking at them.
Keep Your Communication Open
Have you considered using digital lines of communication to actively establish a connection with your congregation? Technology makes it easier to start a dialogue using messaging services (think Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp). Messaging services have become more popular as people use them to connect with friends and even companies. According to Business Insider, the combined user base of the top four chat apps is larger than the combined user base of the top four social networks. That’s a lot of online conversation!
Messaging services have an advantage over email in that, messaging provides a continuous thread between customer and brand, unlike the disjointed experience of email. An order confirmation email, even one prompting further action, often dies in an inbox, but conversation on messaging apps is more like an ongoing dialog, as stated by the Harvard Business Review.
So, what can we learn? Rather than asking church members to find the group message on Facebook or in their text messages, let them opt-in for relevant chats inside your church mobile app. Now they can keep small group discussion going, post questions on your church Q&A, and ask other new parents if cloth diapers really work, and let others know quickly (and in one place) if events are cancelled. Give your church members a space to connect, and you will know how to communicate what they need.
The one thing that churches can really do to be their best selves is stay true to who they are. True to Jesus and true to the calling and purpose he has for your church. You cannot pretend to be more spiritual, more mature, wiser, older, more than you really are, because it will catch up with you. You can’t be the church down the street or the mega church on TV if that’s not who you or your congregation are. Your church will continue to grow and develop just as God has intended all along, and with an open and transparent dialogue between your church as a community of believers and with church staff, the goals and vision of your church will become even more tuned in to what God has for you.
If you desire to learn more about the ways that technology may benefit your church, the secret is out! Download our free e-book to discover six more approaches to technology that the church can tackle.READ MORE
Put aware3 to Work
We have ways to keep your mobile tools fresh in every season.
Has the “How in the world is it already November?” moment hit you?
As the countdown to the holidays begins, don’t let the panic of event communication set in. Your app’s Calendar feature has you covered.
Refresh Your Calendar Design
If you haven’t yet, now is the time to unlock the Event Listing layout for your Calendar feature! This updated layout allows you to customize colors and images.
Make Your Calendar Pop
Tie in your church branding with a splash of color. Simply go to the App tab in the portal and select your colors under Home Layout.
Include a Header Image for your Calendar that either expresses your church’s brand or highlights a specific upcoming event. Inside the portal, click Details on your Calendar feature to add a graphic.
Click here to see how to get started with these layout options.
Provide Action Steps
Event success often depends on people saying they’ll show up, remembering to show up, and inviting others to show up. Your Calendar feature is ready to make that happen.
Register or RSVP to Events
Need to know how much hot cider to make? Ask your congregation to register or RSVP for events directly from the Event Listing. Include a registration link to get the details you need and to even accept payments.
Think your congregants may have questions? Include the right contact’s email address in the Event Listing to make sending an email as easy as one click.
Add Events to Personal Calendars
Encourage your congregation to add an Event Listing to their Google and iCal calendars so that they get reminders, directions, and details in the format they manage the rest of their activities.
Invite Friends to Your Events
Help get the word out by including an “Invite” button in your Event Listing. Church members can send the registration link and information to friends and family to make outreach simple.
Check out our article here to see how to get started.
New Features & Enhancements
We have new things for you. Pretty much every week.
Push Notification Enhancements
Did you know that…
The number of characters (or emojis) you see in a push notification depends on what kind of iOS or Android device you use?
We are making sure your congregation gets the full scoop by offering a new expanded view. When app users swipe your push notification, they’ll see the full message on Android just like on iOS devices.
Want your app users checking out your past messages? When they see the expanded view popup, they can also select “View Inbox” to get caught up on anything they may have missed (v.25.9 and higher).
Get your searchOn
The churchOn experience just got personal. Use these searchOn methods to expedite church members finding your content the first time they download the app.
- Text “app” to your church’s text engagement number. Your link will default to your church’s content.
- Type your church’s shortcode link (e.g. a3a.me/myrenew) in your mobile browser. (Unsure of what your link is? Drop us a note and we will provide the code.)
- Search “churchOn” in The App Store/Google Play, then click “Near Me” by the search bar to pull up your church instantly.
Once your church is selected inside churchOn, the app always defaults there. Now you just have to choose the search option that fits your church!
The first major holiday of the fall is already behind us as 2017 keeps speeding by. Candy, cookies, treats, it all just tastes better on Halloween. And diving into your leftover candy after the dust settles from the trick-or-treaters is always something to look forward to, but the sugar high also comes with a sugar crash. It happens to almost all of us!
How did the year go by so fast that we are already talking about post fall events? Aren’t we still planning Easter? Oh, right, that’s Easter 2018 that’s starting to ramp up … (you can never start too early). Fall is a busy season. Even though, sometimes every season feels busy. But, fall does have the most holidays or days to celebrate. And with holidays, comes events. And with events, comes research, planning, execution and follow up. You still with me? It’s safe to say that for some of us, it has been a long October.
But why do we do these events? It’s true, people love to celebrate. Trunk-or-treats, fall festivals, harvest hoedowns, chili cook-offs—these celebrations provide a reason to drink some apple cider, relax with friends and family, and have a fun with your kids. But something events also do is bring people together. Whether you bring your family, coworkers, friends or your small group with you, these fall events provide opportunities for people to connect not only with each other, but also with your church.
The church has a unique opportunity to be a safe place for people to come to have a enjoyable time without the having their guard up. Of course, you probably already knew this since you probably did host an event or partner with another church to host an event leading up to Halloween. The rush of the planning and the whirlwind of the day of the event is comparable to the sugar high you might have gotten last night while finishing off that Halloween candy.
But, the sugar crash and the post Halloween blues are setting in today, the day after Halloween. Experiencing something similar after your fall events is completely normal. You planned, executed, and are now exhausted. But the job isn’t done yet. Hopefully, you have a pile of guest cards/submissions sitting on your desk or in your inbox. Do you have a plan to tackle your post event fall follow up?
Follow up can be draining, but this is an important time to capture the people who came to visit your church because Christmas is right around the corner. If you have low energy after the fall season, digital technology can be a solution for you, and it can also take on a life of it’s own.
Work smarter, not harder this time of year. There is a long term, and sustainable way that digital technology can help you beat the post Halloween and fall events sugar coma crash.
Raise Up Leaders With Chat & Text Engagement
With your mobile app, there is more to the story than only using it for giving or occasionally updating the calendar. You have the power to use digital technology as a tool to grow your congregation and foster a community. Let guests know that their visit to your event mattered to you. You can send a bulk follow-up message to everyone whose information you have. Use outbound text messaging (text engagement) to send all participants a quick thank you. Better yet, you can include a “looking forward to seeing you soon” and some information about your services and a call to action to download your mobile app to check things out before they visit. In our work, we’ve found that there are 3.2 more unique app users than attenders. Your church reaches beyond Sunday morning.
Then, once event attendees are able to visit and hopefully get connected, you can use mobile chat to take on a life of its own in the process of fostering leaders and community. Use chat to connect newer people to others that they may have common interests, can help them join a small group, or get involved in serving. With chat, you are able to have an open line of communication between new guests and volunteer or staff leaders in your church. These leaders can help foster community with newer church members or attendees, and also help mentor them into the mature believers that every church craves.
So when you feel like you’re hitting wall after coming down from a great fall run, there’s no need to panic. Digital technology and mobile apps can work for churches of all sizes and help them grow through member engagement.READ MORE
Notable features from this month’s series of releases:
- churchOn now supports Push Notifications (AMP-2323, 25.10.x).
- Improved layout support for the iPhone X (AMP-2318, 25.x).
- Deep Linking in place for all churchOn shortcodes, making it easier than ever to directly navigate to your churchOn listing (AMP-2289, ∞ All Versions).
- Listing Only aware3 experience now available in churchOn (AMP-2329, 25.12).
- Planning Center People sync now uses webhooks, for true two-way people syncing (AMP-2229, ∞ All Versions).
Notable bug fixes, performance enhancements and updates:
- If no events were returned for a particular calendar, the app would crash (AMP-2335, 25.12).
- When available, results in chuchOn the distance from the user (AMP-2324, 25.11).
- On some Android devices when the height of the feature grid is set to less-than-100%, the header image would display on top of the background (AMP-2317, 25.10).
- The Schedule page now shows the number of unique devices instead of an inflated number of device registrations for the total count (AMP-2311, ∞ All Versions).
- Push notifications now open directly to the Inbox, instead of the home screen (if not targeted to a particular feature – AMP-2271, 25.9).
- On some iOS devices, feature-targeted Push Notifications were causing a crash (AMP-2267, 24.8).
- Android Push Notifications interface now more closely mirrors iOS’ (AMP-1927, 25.9).