Church giving may see a dip over the next few weeks for an unexpected reason: the Big Dance. College basketball fans across the nation will be watching every game they can and staying up-to-date on their brackets.
Every year during the tournament, U.S.-business see declines in productivity as people stream games while at work, and increased absenteeism as they take sick days to watch games in person or on TV.
“The absenteeism associated with major outbreaks such as avian flu and SARS is less than absenteeism related to major sporting events,” said Dave Weisbeck, Chief Strategy Officer of the Vancouver-based workforce analytics company Visier.
The same undoubtedly holds true for churches. You may see declines in attendance for midweek services and events, as well as Sunday services. Many people who would normally give offerings during services won’t be present. So how can you make sure your church giving doesn’t suffer? Here are some examples and ideas.
Take Some Coaching From Brackets for Good
Our Indianapolis friends and neighbor Brackets for Good is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that holds competitive giving events around the country every March. Nonprofits and charities enter to out-fundraise each other in a bracket-style “tournament,” and can win a $10,000 grant from a corporate sponsor.
Your church could set up a bracket for both existing and new capital campaigns. Members could donate to campaigns they support, with the “winner” advancing to the next round. Not only would the overall winning campaign get a boost in funds, but each campaign in the bracket will see donations throughout.
Consider partnering with other churches in your area for what Pastor John Fields calls his Sunday School Contest. Each participating church competes for points by attending church activities, all themed around basketball:
Free throw (one point) for each person attending Sunday School each Sunday
Free throw (one point) for each person over the average attendance from the previous month
Free throw (one point) for each contact (card, letter, phone call, or visit) reported each Sunday
Field goal (two points) for each guest in attendance each Sunday
Four point play (three-pointer and a free throw) for each new person enrolled
Host a Church Giving March Madness Event
The NCAA has fairly strict rules for hosting watch parties, but that doesn’t mean your church can’t host events where the games are shown. Some of these rules include:
- You cannot charge admission or ask for donations to participate
- You cannot sell food or beverages
- You can promote it via email and printed church bulletins, but not on your website or social media
While getting people together to watch the games may not be in line with your church’s ideals, you can tie into the overall March Madness theme for weekly and special events. Your Thursday night men’s meeting can be a time to explore the social and economic issues around school sports.
You could hold a March Madness-themed open house where you show the game, provide snacks and drinks, and encourage your members to bring at least one potential new attendee. While you can’t ask for donations outright, church giving will still be a priority for those who attend.
Stay In the Game With Mobile Giving
Keep in mind that a mobile church giving app allows your members to make offerings even when they’re not present. As a Givelify member place of worship, remind them they can participate in their normal church giving anytime, anywhere. Reach your members where they are by including appeals in your print and email church bulletins, Facebook, and Twitter.
Remember To Have Fun
Following last year’s World Series, Central Baptist Church in Springfield, IL, capitalized on the hysteria around the Chicago Cubs’ historic win with a hilarious Facebook post.
Originally posted on November 3, 2016, it has been shared almost 26,000 times and received over 3,000 Likes. While your post may not go viral like this one, poking a little fun at your members who are rabid basketball fans could go a long way toward increasing attendance, and therefore church giving.