Enabling and Encouraging Giving During the Coronavirus Pandemic and Beyond
The response of our churches to the coronavirus pandemic has been remarkable. Alongside the flourishing of home and online worship and the determination and innovation with which many have continued to serve their communities, we have seen parishes across our diocese adopt new approaches to enable and encourage generous giving.
This has been critical at a time when gifts via envelope and plate offerings have dried up as has commercial income. It has also been critical because whilst there are many who are suffering financial hardship and are less able to give, there are some who want and are able to give more.
This is an important moment for us. There is an opportunity to both support the generosity of those who can give more and to build on the new technologies and approaches the lockdown has revealed to many of us.
On these pages you will find resources to support parish finances and giving:
- Generous God, Generous Disciples, Christian Stewardship
- Your Mission and Stewardship Advisors
- Enabling giving:
- Encouraging giving
- Encouraging giving Webinars
- Further advice and guidance
As God's children we are called to be responsible with all of the things He has given us. This is often called stewardship.
A prayer for generous giving
Generous God, your gift to us is life itself
and all the beauty that this life holds dear.
Loosen the drawstrings of our hearts
and make us thankful that we will give to you, and to your Church,
the things it needs to share with all the world the greatest gift of all,
which is the offering of yourself to us in Christ.
We ask this prayer through Him who paid the price in full
that we can have eternal life with you, your Son,
Our Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Introducing Generous God, Generous Disciples
During Advent we look forward to the coming of Christ, God's gift to the world. And during Advent this year we will reflect on our own giving in response to God's generosity. Generous God, Generous Disciples is the Diocese of Chelmsford's Stewardship initiative that will run from Advent to Candelmas in February. But unlike previous stewardship initiatives, Generous God, Generous Disciples will continue beyond this initial three month period. We will use the time from Advent to Candlemas to reflect and equip ourselves as a diocesan family to put giving at the heart of our Christian discipleship for the future. Then throughout 2021 and beyond we will continue to support stewardship in our parishes, particularly through the work of our Mission and Stewardship Advisers.
Your Mission and Stewardship Advisors are available to provide one ot one advice to church leaders. Their details are below.
|Barking||Revd Jeremy Fraseremail@example.com|
|Bradwell||Revd Canon Mike Powerfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Colchester||Revd Canon Philip Ritchieemail@example.com|
3) Enabling Giving
Whilst some have stopped giving in recent weeks because their financial situation has worsened, others who give via the plate or envelope have stopped giving because they have not been able to do so. This section provides advice and resources to enable people to give in new ways.
Encouraging people to give by Direct Debit has major benefits for all concerned and should be your primary focus when it comes to enabling people to give regularly. Direct Debit gives your parishioners the convenience of not having to organise payments on a regular basis and it allows your church to be more confident about regular income.
The Church of England Parish Giving Scheme provides a straightforward way for parishes to organise a direct debit programme whilst benefiting from Gift Aid and allowing parishioners to sign up for inflation linked giving. This short video explains how it works:
In recent weeks, the Parish Giving Scheme has also enabled parishioners to set up Direct Debits by telephone
The video below explains more.
During the Coronavirus Pandemic, many churches have set up online giving to enable people to give via their websites. Some have used these tools to invite giving during online services.
Unlike Direct Debit, giving is one off, so it is best used in conjunction with a Direct Debit programme rather than as an alternative.
There is a growing market of online giving providers you may wish to consider:
These providers also allow you to set up Gift Aid too.
Adding an online donation button on A Church Near You
A Church Near You have built a function on their website that allows churches who use online giving to add a 'donate' button to their A Church Near You web page. You can find out more here.
Finally, ensure your PCC Treasurer and Gift Aid Secretary are aware of how and when online donations will reach your church bank account. Similarly, that they know how gift aid will be claimed on them. This process is different for different providers so it’s worth checking carefully. The Parish Giving website Good Governance Guide provides a common sense approach to issues arising from online giving in all forms.
Before the Coronavirus Pandemic, many parishes had introduced contactless giving. Whilst contactless technology has not been of use whilst our church buildings have been closed for worship, it will be increasingly important when we are able to return .
People have got used to using contactless payment for shopping because of the risk of virus transmission that comes with using cash.
There are three types of terminal:
1) A termninal that needs to be paried with a mobile phone and therefore needs constant supervision by a person
2) A stand alone terminal that can be left unattended. These tend to be more expensive
3) A unit that can be passed around with the collection plate or bag. These require donors to download an app on their phone.
The Church of England Parish Buying Scheme has negotiated deals with some suppliers.Access these deals here
Givt supply a device that can be passed around on the collection plate or bag. Visit the Givt website here.
Gift Aid is an important source of income for many of our churches and can increase the amount of donations and regular giving by 25%. To benefit from Gift Aid your church will need to register with HMRC.
You will need to obtain a Gift Aid declaration from anyone who is giving. This can be done in a number of ways depending on the circumstance:
- Online platforms such as Just Giving will obtain the declaration for you when somebody gives, provided you set up your account to receive Gift Aid.
- For plate collections, enverlopes with a declaration form printed on the outside can be left in the pews and sent to regular worshipers at home
- For regular giving, including by direct debit, givers can complete a one off form and return it to you
Your declaration form must comply with HMRC guidelines and a template is available here.
An introduction to Gift Aid
Tools such as Direct Debit and online giving help us to enable people to give more easily.
We also need to communicate with people effectively to encourage them to give and explain how they can do so. The following resources and guidance have been produced to help churches encouarge giving.
It is useful to have a message about giving that you can share with your potential givers. This can then be included appropriately in your communications and during worship. The following is an example that is shared on the Parish Giving Site:
During this difficult time when our church buildings are closed, we are still a church; meeting virtually for prayer services and fellowship, loving our neighbours by offering practical support to the vulnerable, and caring for our communities. The work of our church is reliant on people’s generosity, a generosity that is a hallmark of a lived-out faith and a testament to it. We give to our church in a variety of ways, but with the closure of all our buildings we cannot receive all the gifts that we usually would, so we really need your help now. If you are able to give more at this time, here’s how you can help.
You may wish to adapt this message to make it relevant to your own parishioners or personal to your church. You could tell stories about the difference your chuch has been making in your community for example.
Once you have developed your giving message, you then need ot consider the best ways to reach your potential givers. It's likely that you'll reach different groups of people in different ways.
Email is one of the best ways to reach your potential givers and allows you to tailor your message to the person or groups of people you are talking with. Keep your email short and succinct and make sure your call to action stands out. By call to action we mean the part of the email where you ask people to take action.
Tools such as Mailchimp don't cost very much to set up and allow you to insert buttons which make your call to action very clear. Mailchimp and similar tools also allow you to comply with data protection legislation.
Use email for giving sparingly. People don't appreciate being emailed too often especially if they are being asked for money. Make sure you link through to your web page from your emails and that when people visit they can get the information they need and are able to give easily. See website and video.
Sending a letter is still an effective way to reach many potential givers and can help convey a sense of inportance that is difficult to achieve through electronic communicaiton. Letters can be particularly useful for promoting Direct Debit where forms can be enclosed. Letters can be slightly longer than emails, but you should make sure that your call to action is very clear so that no reader can be in doubt what the letter is asking for.
Your website can play a key role in encouraging giving:
1) It should make it very easy and obvious how people can give. Include a big button linking through to your online giving page
2) It should tell your story and deliver your message about why people should give at this time. One of the most effective ways you can tell a story is through video. You could make a video yourself using an adaption of the message script above or the A Church Near You Website allows you to personalise the video below to your own church.
Many of our churches have expanded their use of social media during the coronavirus pandemic. In particular by using live streamed and video services. Whilst you may choose to include financial asks in your ordinary social media posts, particularly if you have made a video like those mentioned above, incorporating an offering into your online service is particularly important:
- Make sure there is a highly visible button or link on the web page or social media channel where the service is being broadcast. This link shouldn go through to your online donation page so that people can give there and then.
- You may wish to show the videos mentioned above during the offering.
The Reimagining the Offertory guidelines from the Parish Resources website offer resources to help parishes enable their offering to move closer to becoming both a joyful act of worship and also a committed part of discipleship. Giving in the context of worship reflects the importance of giving in community. The offering can also be a wonderful time to give thanks for generous contributions of time and talents in your community, both inside and outside of your church family.
Particularly useful for pre-recorded or livestreamed online services are:
The Diocese of York Generous Giving Team have produced offering prayers written for online worship.
The Church of England Digital Labs Team are running a series of webinars on receiving online donations.
The webinars take place on the following dates
- 5 November
- 8 December
Parish Resources Website
- Generous God, Generous Disciples Stewardship Initiative
- Advice for Treasurers
- Legacy Resources
- Online Returns
- Statistics for Mission Return
- Parish Giving Scheme
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