How to build relationships with your top donors: Tips for churches


I am sure you’ve heard of the 80/20 rule, and churches are no exception.

20% of your people are doing 80% of the financial giving as well.

For the growth, health, and budget of your church, it is vital that you engage with those who are giving.

Time and time again, we’ve spoken to the pastor who said they had one family leave their church, and a large part of the church's income went with them. Sometimes the church is blindsided by this as they are not relationally connected. Other times the relationship is only based around an “ask.”

Check out three ways below that you can uniquely engage with your 20%. 

1. Connect with them as real people, because they are.

Chances are, even if you aren’t aware of your top givers, you already know them. Your 20% is often made up of the most active individuals and families in your church. They attend events, volunteer regularly, and may have been around for many years (that’s because, where they give their treasure their heart is). They are engaged with you, so you should engage with them. Know them, their families, and specific details about who they are. Do not only engage with them when it’s time to ask for a gift. 

2. Be prepared to invite them into the need.

  People with financial means have the privilege and the opportunity to impact your church significantly, and many of them want to!  Sure, they don’t want to be treated like a vending machine, but if they can help meet a need and it’s something they are passionate about, ask. Ask them to pray about considering a gift toward a specific project or cause, invite them to pray about being an anchor gift for an upcoming campaign. 

Part of this requires preparation on your part. Preparing yourself with a clear and concise “ask” is essential, so that when someone says to you “how can I help?” or “what do you need?” you are ready with a clear answer. 

3. Share your thanks and their impact. 

A simple handwritten thank you note goes a long way. When we fail to thank people for their gifts, they can grow weary or begin to assume we are ungrateful.

Many major givers are also in business, and they often look for a return on investment. Be sure to share how their gifts have impacted your church and beyond!


What if you’re not sure?

We interact with many pastors who choose not to know details about individual givers, and we understand those reasons.  The concerns are real. Our encouragement to you is to pray against your unique issues and ask God for protection as you deepen relationships. You know your heart and your church best, and knowing the individuals who represent the 20% can have a real impact on your future. 

Looking for more tips on interacting with major donors? Download our pastor guide here.

Kierstin TothComment