Tips and resources are now available to help in your planning
By Robyn Davis Sekula | Presbyterian Foundation Communications
LOUISVILLE – Giving Tuesday is a way for Presbyterians to hit the reset button, says Rev. Aimee Moiso of the Presbyterian Foundation. Churches can use this day to highlight special ministries and invite members to generously share all that they have.
Representatives from the Presbyterian Foundation and Presbyterian Mission Agency offered a free webinar on October 8 for church leaders who want to participate in Giving Tuesday, which occurs this year on November 27.
Giving Tuesday is a global day of giving that follows a series of two other significant days: Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is one of the biggest shopping days of the year, when many people buy holiday gifts, and Cyber Monday is the day when many online retailers offer discounts for purchases made online.
Giving Tuesday is a day when consumers are invited to reconsider where their extra funds are going and donate to causes they love. “This is a global day of giving,” said Lauren Rogers, Ministry Specialist for Special Offerings. “Last year, over 150 countries participated and all 50 states. It is a global day of giving that harnesses the power of social media.”
You can watch a recording of the webinar here, and find resources from the webinar, including PowerPoint slides, here. The Presbyterian Foundation is also providing a free, downloadable bulletin insert, which you can find here, along with other resources.
Read about the church that inspired the webinar, First United Presbyterian Church in Tarentum, Pennsylvania, here.
Theological background for giving
Moiso, extern in Practical Theology for the Presbyterian Foundation, presented three scriptural themes that can be instructive when planning for Giving Tuesday. She started in the Old Testament with Leviticus 25. “During the Jubilee year, which is the talking point from Leviticus 25, the idea behind it was the whole earth gets a reset,” Moiso said. “So the land returns to original owners, slaves are freed, and debts are forgiven. Fields lie fallow for a year and people are to eat what only grows there naturally, not what they have cultivated. It’s a recognition that things over time get out of whack, out of balance, and every now and then we need to refocus what we’re doing.”
The second text Moiso highlighted was from Luke 13, which uses the story of a woman who was “bent” from disease. Jesus heals her, and she is able to stand straight again. “The idea here is that Jesus sees beyond the ways in which we are bound socially, so we are freed to be who we are supposed to be,” Moiso says. “The theme of freedom on Giving Tuesday can be that there are all of these expectations on us going into Advent and the holiday season — that we are supposed to attend things and do things and buy things. But, in fact, we are free to make choices about where to put our energy and our time. We are freed from the pressure to buy and can choose to give instead.”
The third theme is the concept of having enough, Moiso said. John 6 tells the story of the feeding of the 5,000. “There is enough for everyone in this scripture text, even the extra is kept, in recognition that maybe not everyone has had enough,” Moiso said. “Recognizing that we have enough can be a way to prompt our concern for others.”
How to participate
Rogers walked the audience through the process of building interest in Giving Tuesday on social media. She emphasized using photos and videos to tell the story of a church’s mission and ministry. Even if an event isn’t recent, it can represent the church’s ministry. For example, a photo from Youth Triennium in 2016 can still help members of the congregation connect with the church and inspire giving.
Beginning to post on social media now – the second week of October — will help remind your social media followers that Giving Tuesday is approaching and that you will be participating this year. Post once per week about Giving Tuesday until Oct. 27, when Giving Tuesday will be one month away. At that point, post more often. Announce Giving Tuesday in worship services, and place an announcement in your newsletter, ensuring that everyone in your church feels invited to participate.
On the day of Giving Tuesday, make an announcement in the morning to prompt gifts and update followers throughout the day with how your campaign is going. And once the day is complete, be sure to thank your followers.
In all your social media posts, don’t forget to link to your donate page. “You want to make it as easy as possible for donors,” Rogers said. “Also, give them alternative ways to donate. They can participate by swinging by the church office and dropping off a donation.”
Mari Graham, Social Media and Media Relations Strategist for the Presbyterian Mission Agency, emphasized the need for ambassadors to post about the church’s Giving Tuesday campaign. “Encourage the people in your community to share your posts,” Graham said. “Especially on Giving Tuesday, it’s a neat way to encourage ownership.”
Handling Online Gifts
The Presbyterian Foundation offers an online giving services for congregations. Olanda Carr, Ministry Relations Officer for the Foundation, explained the importance of having an online giving portal. Giving online is an expectation of many these days, and not just the younger crowd. It’s convenient, safe and easy. “Sometimes we make the assumption that online giving is for our younger folks,” Carr said. “That is not entirely true. Fifty-four percent of online gifts are made by those over age 60.”
The Foundation works with churches to help them place a “give now” button on the church website. Donors receive an email thanking them for their gift automatically, and funds are distributed to the church at the end of each month. “When we created this service, we did so with the church in mind,” Carr says. There are no setup or monthly maintenance fees. The process can be completed in a matter of a few days after the application is received.
Setting up online giving in time for Giving Tuesday means a church will have the service permanently, not just for Giving Tuesday. A full brochure on the Foundation’s Online Giving program is available here.
Robyn Davis Sekula is serving as interim senior director of communications for the Presbyterian Foundation. She is a ruling elder in the PC(USA) and a member of Highland Presbyterian Church in Louisville. You can reach her at email@example.com.
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