The New Approach To Year-End Giving You’ve Been Searching For
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.