Saying Thanks to First-Time Givers

It is a special moment, the first time someone offers a financial gift to your church.

First, it is an outward sign that something important is happening inside the life and spirit of the giver, which is helpful for a pastor to know for reasons of spiritual care.

Second, the first gift offering is a milestone in the relationship between the individual and the church. As with gift giving and receiving in any relationship, the recipient should acknowledge a gift with an expression of thanks. After all, the quality of the relationship that develops between the individual and the church is key to whether or not they will stay.

Why do people give? 

Ideally, people give out of a sense of joy and gratitude to God as part of their worship. 

Sometimes other reasons come into play, like a sense of duty, a response of compassion, a practical desire to contribute, the desire to grow into a more generous person, or the belief that God will bless them in return. Occasionally, negative emotions such as fear or guilt can be involved. People are tender-hearted and tend to have nuanced inner narratives around money, even in the best circumstances. 

If the giver is a young person or a new believer, this first gift might be the first time they give anywhere, and could be a sign of a developing spirit of generosity. 

If an individual had a difficult experience at a previous church, giving again at a new church might be a sign of emotional healing. 

Cultivating joy

Upon receiving a donation, the church gains an opportunity to provide discipling. Responding to the gift with joy and gratitude sets a tone for the giver in the context of their spiritual community.

If the church receives someone’s gift with the genuine expectation that God will make use of the gift in a wonderful way, it creates an invitation for that person to enter into the same belief. If they stick around long enough to witness the impact of their gift, they may experience joy and encouragement in their faith. 

Fostering relationship

Giving is reciprocal. On a practical level, people give money to the church, and in turn, the church uses the money to facilitate the spiritual care of people.

On a heart level, something uniquely personal unfolds within a giver, and the church has a role to play in noticing, honouring, and supporting that person’s inner growth. 

By acknowledging a first-time gift, the church says to the individual, we see you. Other messages of truth and love may also be communicated to the giver, such as, your gift is important, or YOU are important. An unacknowledged gift could conversely make a giver feel somewhat invisible.  

Finding and thanking first-time givers in Sunergo

Church management software makes it easier to track down first-time givers. There is a built-in report for this exact purpose in Sunergo Church Tools:

  1. From the Dashboard, select Reports
  2. From the Reports Menu, select Designation Report
  3. Click the First Time Givers tab
  4. Search by date range and other criteria
  5. Choose between a report displayed on the screen or a report exported to a spreadsheet

The report will display a list of names of first-time givers and the amounts they gave. From here you can find the giver in Contacts, give them a call, or send them an email directly from their profile. If you use an email template for gift acknowledgements, make sure to personalize it by including their name, and signing it with yours.

Thanking someone for their gift in person or with a call can be a good jumping-off point for getting to know that person and understanding what is important to them. If they gave in response to a particular fundraiser or designated fund, for example, that signals that they find that ministry personally meaningful. Make sure to acknowledge such details, and let them know that their gift makes a difference. They will feel like they’re becoming a part of your ministry–because they are!

Finally, try to respond promptly. Being acknowledged sooner rather than later will add to the warm and happy feelings the donor naturally experiences after giving, compounding the blessing and cheer.

"You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. For God loves a person who gives cheerfully." - 2 Corinthians 9:7 NLT

Categories: Charities, Follow-up, Giving, Pastoral Care, Sunergo