3 Times 3 Equals Generous Givers

In his book, Not Your Parents’ Offering Plate, Clif Christopher identifies “three pockets of giving” —

  • The Earned-Income Pocket: “monies that we are earning from our salaries or retirement checks.”
  • The Capital Pocket: “accumulated resources… stocks, bonds, pieces of property, insurance policies, savings accounts, and inheritances”
  • The Estate Pocket: “what we will have available to give once we leave this earth”

And as Clif states so succinctly: “The problem is that the church has not learnred how to ask fro gifts from all three pockets.”

Picture in your mind the flow of cash from our resources to our congregations. We all have three pockets of resources. Then, in some way, we learn of a need for giving. We choose a way to give, and we make the gift. Let me put some words on that process.

  • Cause
  • Appeal
  • Vehicle

Cause is the reason we give. It might be a need of the church: to support operating costs, to fix the roof, to build up the endowment. It might be a special mission need: in my setting it’s often a local need or a denominational offering such as One Great Hour of Sharing. Or, it might be a personal need: to grow in spirituality and generosity.

The Appeal is how we are presented the opportunity to give. An offering plate, a bulletin insert, a letter from the board, a verbal appeal during worship, a personal visit from the pastor, or fundraising events like a bake sale or a youth car wash.

The Vehicle is the way the gift gets from the donor to the church. The offering plate doubles as an appeal and a vehicle. Some churches offer direct debit, others offer credit card swipes. Transfers of appreciated stock. Endowment support. Charitable gift annuities, etc.

Three pockets of giving X three processes EQUALS generous givers.

Congregations that diversify their revenue streams by addressing all three pockets of their members with a variety of causes, appeals and vehicles will inspire greater generosity among their constituents.