In today’s changing society, you may find that some of your committed supporters are external, meaning anybody who wants to support your church but is not a member. This could be anyone from a former member who has moved away – say, for college or a job or a few years on a mission abroad – to other churches, family of members, and people who give specifically to a community or missions-based cause.
While these people don’t physically attend your church, many of them desire to be connected with the community there. It will mean a lot to them if you keep them in the loop of the church’s communication channels, and it will certainly help them feel valued if the church as a whole reaches out to them. If you involve them in the life of your church, they’ll feel more invested and thus more likely to continue supporting your ministries.
Below is a list of practical ways you can help external givers feel like a part of the church:
Engage external givers via social media.
Send those people who aren’t currently connected to your network a personal email with links inviting them to follow your church’s social media accounts. Use those pages to share photos and videos of the goings on at your church. You can even minister to them by sharing daily prayers, Bible verses, or articles, and ask questions to spark discussions. Be sure to put a “Give Online” button on your social media pages so external givers can donate easily. If external givers have pages of their own, follow them as well.
Send them the church’s newsletter.
Ask external givers for their contact information and if they’d like to receive your church’s newsletter. Include in the newsletter a section thanking external givers. You can even choose to highlight certain external givers by writing (or having them write) a few sentences about what they are doing in their different locations and ministries.
Invite external givers to send you prayer requests.
Ask if these external givers would be interested in having your church pray for them during the service. You can also keep their requests confidential and remember them in your personal prayers.
If possible, make a phone call to external givers.
Once a quarter, call external givers to let them know your church is thinking of them. You should thank them, tell them how their money is being used, and ask them about their lives. Members of the church staff can help you make these phone calls.
Send a quarterly or annual giving statement for tax purposes.
Include a handwritten note to tell them what’s going on in the church and to thank them for their support.
External givers want to feel valued even if they live far away. By taking the time to reach out, you build a relationship with them and let them know their financial assistance is appreciated.