I worked a couple of years as Director of Communications for a Christian international development agency. There I had the privilege of working alongside an experienced journalist and former director of Mennonite Central Committee. He taught me a lot about communication and fundraising. Perhaps the most important thing I learned from him is that if you don’t ask, someone else will.
Congregations are generally terrible at staying on their members’ radar. They believe that their members will remember to give and that they will give in principle, without having to communicate the congregation’s story and the mission’s need. Well, that doesn’t work for most people! In fact, most members are not even in worship to give.
Money follows the mission and when thousands of other charities are banging at your members’ doors, telling their story and asking for money, your members are going to give, and often, it will be as much or more than they give to their congregation.
I give to designated charities beyond my congregation and I receive regular mailings from them, telling the story of their mission, how they are helping people change for the better. Now they don’t spend money on these mail outs just to lose money in doing so. They know it both encourages people to give and pays for itself.
Minimally, congregations ought to be communicating with their members every month, telling the story of God’s mission and what God is doing in the lives of people they are ministering to, as well as asking for their support. Now if nothing is happening, you may not want to communicate just to ask, but if God is at work, invest in this communication and invite people to support what God is about. Mailouts may be more expensive than emails, but the value of a mailing is far greater than an email and will more likely be noticed.
Don’t be afraid to ask, but remember to connect your ask to God’s mission and the work of God through your congregation.