How To Increase Missions Giving

Herb Miller, author of The New Consecration Sunday Stewardship Guide, has consulted with thousands of congregations on ways to increase financial giving.[1] Here are a few tips from Miller on how to raise more money for local and global missions.[2]

  1. Permit several special offerings each year—to a variety of denominational and local community causes. Stewardship—effective congregations make it clear, however, that they do not expect every member to give to every special offering. They repeatedly state that they do not want to block individuals from giving to a cause they think important—just because not everyone in the congregation wants to give to that cause. These churches discover that increasing the number of special offerings does not divert money from the operating budget and other special offerings. On the contrary, the total giving to all causes increases.
  2. Develop specialized world-missions projects that excite the imagination and attract personal involvement. Examples: a children’s home in Mexico and a hospital in Thailand. Paradoxically, getting intimately involved with one world mission project tends to increase generosity to other denominational causes. Educators call this inductive learning. The parents of today’s young adults were content with deductive learning: “The denomination is a reliable manager,” they thought. “If denominational leaders say a missions-cause is good, we should support it.” Many of today’s young adults, however, tend to feel that if they have not personally experienced something, it may not be real. This is why so many churches report that mission trips, work camps, and work projects in other parts of or outside the country provide positive benefits.
  3. Support several local community missions-projects with both dollars and hands-on participation. Examples: Habitat for Humanity, community food pantry, ministry to AIDS victims, environmental causes. For some people, giving personal time and energy increases their dollar-generosity more than any other factor.
  4. Contribute at least 10 percent of the operating budget to denominational missions causes.  That minimal figure seems low to many denominational leaders. Yet a look at the average giving level of their congregations usually reveals a statistic only slighter higher and sometimes slightly lower than 10 percent, especially in mainline denominations such as the United Church of Christ, the American Baptist Church, the Disciples of Christ, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Thousands of their congregations must look up to see 10 percent.
  5. Provide a facilities-endowment fund and a missions-endowment fund. Endowment funds are destructive if huge and the members begin to substitute dependence on the endowment’s interest income for personal stewardship. However, most of these dangers are avoidable. National stewardship departments in most denominations provide advice on how to avoid such tragedies. This usually involves stipulations as to how the governing board can use each endowment’s interest income. Why establish a facilities endowment? Some members love to give to bricks-and-mortar funds, especially if they and/or their parents were married in that building. A facilities endowment therefore attracts money that otherwise would not be given. Likewise, some members love to give to a missions endowment (these folks are not bricks-and- mortar types). The interest income from such a fund goes to support local and/or world mission causes. . . Count on it: people are different from one another. They have different passions. They have more than one kind of pocket from which they make generous gifts. Give them the opportunity.

[1]Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2007)

[2]Excerpted from Herb Miller, “How to Increase Local and World Missions Giving,” Church Effectiveness Nuggets: Volume 19. Found at

Photo:  globe, ben lin.  8.3.2009.  Flickr Creative Commons.

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