I get it. You’re trying to remind your congregation that it’s the end of the year and you would love to be the recipient of their end-of-year donations above and beyond regular tithes. So, you put together a letter or an email and send it.

But wait. Here are five things you must effectively communicate if you want the right response:

1. Use a professional to write the letter.

Most people write in a very wordy, clumsy way. People dislike this! If you have a communicator, a writer, or a team of people who look after your communication, allow them to create this essential communication piece, or hire an expert.

They should have an understanding of your audience, a holistic knowledge of your ministry, and the skills to engage. Take their advice.

2. Keep it short. Personalize if possible.

No one wants to read long emails or letters. Edit. Edit. Edit. Carve it down to something that’s easy to scan. Most will read an initial short (2-3 lines) paragraph. Then, most will jump to a series of bullet points that contain the main reason you’re sending the letter.

Most people want the content to feel like it’s directed at them. Or, even better, they want to see themselves in the content. If you can mail merge or auto-insert personalized content, do it. Design the content so they feel you’re writing directly to them.

Oh, and more people will read a postscript (PS) than the whole letter — and expect it to remind them of the letter’s purpose — a great place to remind them of their next step.

3. Remind them how you spend their money. Personalize if possible.

You did spend their money this year, right? Think about two or three ways you spent your budget that resonates with “them” personally. Suggestion: reinforce your thread/vision/mission (it’s probably why they attend)!

Tell a compelling story (but edit it) and give them an easy URL link (i.e., YourChurch.org/2019) so they can view a short video that fills in the details of how you are grateful and how you used their money for ministry (that they would love to share).

4. Share your vision and why you need help. Personalize if possible.

Quickly tell a story that sets up the new year’s possibilities. Let them dream with you about what can be accomplished together.

Write it from their vantage point. People will give to accomplish their dreams or goals. Be specific with an amount, give a bonus “reach” goal, and explain what the added benefit will be for the church if you get there.

5. Integrate all of this into your communication channels.

It shouldn’t be a surprise to receive this letter/email. Mention the stories and your goals in the service, on your website, in your social media, and your other channels. Mention the letter, even! This serves the purpose of reinforcing the content and your ask, as well as something else to refer to in your message.

Oh, one last thing: Don’t only ask at the end of the year. Your end-of-year ask should be a concerted, planned, integrated effort throughout the entire year. That way all church communication leads to the why that people attend, give, and commit to the greater ministry of your church. And, of course, that leads to generous giving as part of worship.