Leveraging Technology to Accelerate Giving

Do you pay bills on line? I know that our household pays almost all of our bills online…even my 87 year old father does as well. Although I do not see my tithes and offerings as “bills” I pay them online the majority of the time. I am also aware that more and more churches are offering online giving and even text giving options, which got me thinking about the means and methods of online giving.

What should the online giving experience look like?

What giving technologies are most efficient and effective?

How can churches afford to employ new giving technologies?

How do we reach every generation of givers in the church?

Church leaders across the country are asking themselves and their pastor friends these questions, especially as they try to accelerate generosity and be intentional with the facilities (and all resources…including money) God has entrusted to them.

I recently learned of a new resource that can help you answer these questions in a very practical way. So I arranged some valuable Q&A time with Rusty Lewis, CFRE and Vice President of Generis, a group growing generous hearts toward God-inspired vision. He authored an eBook called “Leveraging Technology to Accelerate Giving,” and I got a chance to get the inside details of the book to share with you (You can get your copy of this resource for free, by the way!).

Take a minute and sit in on our conversation:

Tim: Why was it important for you to address giving technology in this new resource?

Rusty: With online banking and smartphone mobile pay apps, we simply aren’t carrying cash and checks like we used to. And that means we’re not carrying them to church services either. But many churches operate as if we do. When alternative giving methods are not being implemented, a chasm is created and giving is lost.

When a church doesn’t offer an alternative way to give, they have actually created an obstacle in someone’s way of giving to the church. Giving should be easy. And honestly, people have already gone mobile – with or without you. If pastors would address and improve their eGiving options, they would likely have an impact on giving for years to come.

Tim: What specifically did you choose to address in the eBook?

Rusty: Several years ago the call was to implement online giving, and today, many churches have done just that (though not nearly as many as you might think). Mistakenly, however, most assume that now they have online giving on their website they’ve done all they need to do in this area. That’s simply not the case.

So I’ve addressed three specific areas in the eBook:

  • Implementing all the tools that make up a complete electronic giving platform – and how they should perform.
  • How best to promote your electronic giving platform – now that we have the tools in place, how can we get more people to use them?
  • Appropriately stewarding the gifts that come in electronically – specifically, what happens when the gift is received – how do you say “thank you” and connect the dots between the gift and the ministry impact the gift allows?

Tim: What are you seeing in terms of generational eGiving?

Rusty:  Younger generations have smartphones by their side day and night. The common perception that young adults love their smartphones has become a statistical fact. And these are the future givers of the church.

Here’s a sneak peek into a study referenced in my eBook… in the chapter on Millennials and technology:

This information alone is a strong case for eGiving! Ultimately it’s the church’s responsibility to meet people where they are and encourage them on their giving journey.

Tim: What other technology-related topics are covered in this resource?

Rusty: The bulk of the eBook actually gets pretty practical. Once you download it you’ll quickly find:

  • resolution to some common giving technology myths
  • teaching on how to reach Millennials (the future givers of your church)
  • guidance on how to remove the hurdles of online giving
  • examples of the ideal online giving experience
  • recommendations on giving technology to consider
  • a self-analysis to help you understand your current position in the realm of giving technology

I even talk one-on-one with the providers of this technology for you. That’s just how important this is!

Tim: What kinds of practical tools do you offer in this new eBook?

Rusty: There are several very practical sections to this book. One of my favorites is a self-analysis. I’ve included step-by-step instructions on how to assess your current eGiving system and experience, complete with suggestions for improvement.

POSTLUDE (Tim): For far too many years, the church has been 10-15 years behind the technological trends of culture not to mention other means and methods.  It is exciting for me to find resources that can help the church be contextual, relevant and intentional in the area of giving.

Get your copy of this valuable resource TODAY.


Church Security – Building a Strong Foundation

At Cool Solutions Group we strive to provide the best content to all that are searching for ways to be stewards of what they have been entrusted. In the past few years church safety and security has been a growing focus. We get many calls regarding this, and work with many great partners in the industry to get the best information out to as many as possible.

What we have found is that security is like any other process in a facility. To be successful it must be done intentionally. One of our favorite quotes that is generally attributed to the Greek soldier Archilochus circa 650 B.C. is “We don’t rise to the level of our expectations; we fall to the level of our training”.

That concept is the basis for our new free e-Book series entitled A Measured Approach to Church Security. This series has 4 separate eBooks:

Part 1: Church Security – Preparing for the Process

Part 2: Church Security – Laying a Firm Foundation

Part 3: Church Security – Building Upon the Foundation

Part 4: Church Security – Supported by a Firm Foundation

For a safety and security program in your church to be successful and effective, you will need to have a strong foundation. This series is designed to introduce you to the concepts that allow you to begin building the best program for your church. There are many references provided, some to articles and some to service providers. Take the time to dig deep and begin building and training on a safety and security program that can accomplish your objectives. Developing your response during the storm is the opposite of intentional planning.

Download this FREE series today, and encourage others to do the same. Develop the plan that is right for you and your church culture. We are here to help.


WOW – You Offer THAT?!

The other day I was contacted by a man from a church who was working with a committee he had established to help his church understand the importance of taking care of and planning for the inevitable future costs related to their church facilities. He had downloaded one of our eBooks (Church Facility Stewardship) and was interested in other resources to make his case.

As I started to compile a response, I paused and stared at the screen…WOW – THAT IS INCREDIBLE! As the email developed and the list grew, I was frankly humbled and blown away with the resources that we have been able to make available to churches across the country.

If you have not checked out what we have developed (many resources are free) and what services we provide…just take a look at the list below.

  1. 5 Intentional Steps to Establish a Capital Reserve Account –  Free eBook – This was written as a primer for churches that are starting from Square 1 with a capital reserve.
  2. Church Facility Evaluator – Free tool to evaluate some of the key operational metrics/costs of a church related to national averages.
  3. Church Facility Stewardship Manual – Almost 300 pages of information for any church to use to establish and further their facility management initiatives.
  4. Other Resources – We have written a number of books and other material.
  5. Assessments/Training – We also provide a number of assessments and training.
  6. Life Cycle Calculator – This is a free software that will help ANY organization establish their capital reserve plan and project funds needs and when.
  7. eSPACE – Facility Management Software – We originally developed this software suite for churches, but since 2008,  we now have private and public schools, colleges, YMCAs, municipalities and other facility/property managers. In addition to the free Life Cycle Calculator from above, we have subscription offerings for:
    1. Event Management 
    2. Work Order Management
    3. HVAC Integration 
  8. Church Facility Management  Solutions – This is a new membership website that we recently released…VERY excited about this!

If your church has a facility…you need to familiarize yourself with the above items and take advantage of the best set of tools to help you be a GREAT steward!


The Four Buckets of Church Facility Budgeting

“Hey Tim…how do we get started with Facility Budgeting?” I hear that a lot from Pastors, XP’s, Business Admins, Facility Managers and lay people.  It is a universal concern.  Let’s take a 30,000 foot level view of the most effective means by which we have seen work.

When you are budgeting for your facilities, there are 4 primary buckets that need to be accounted for:

We fully believe that being intentional about all 4 buckets will keep you out of the dog house related to your facilities

  1. Operational – This includes utilities, janitorial, general maintenance and staffing. Budgeting these area will be critical to get RIGHT. What does that mean? It means that you are not spending too much on utilities and making sure you are spending enough in the other areas to keep up with the natural rate of deterioration. Here are some rules of thumb that we find to represent “best-practices” for churches:
    1. Utilities – $1.00-1.50/SF annually. If you are over $1.25/SF, you may want to consider an energy audit or a review of your HVAC controls, as 50% or more of your energy consumption is attributed to HVAC and the best way to reduce that is through proper “behavior” which can be assisted with proper controls. We also just released a free eBook on HVAC Solutions…get your free copy HERE.
    2. Janitorial (labor, material, paper products, major cleaning like carpet extractions, window cleaning, etc.) should be in the $1.50-$2.50 range annually.
    3. General Maintenance – If you are budgeting below the national average of $2.25 – $3.00/SF this should be re-looked at. We have found that if a lack of general maintenance is present, the likelihood of deferred maintenance increases.  In most cases $1 not spent on general maintenance will cost 3-4 times in the future.
    4. Staff – Based on national surveys by our firm and IFMA, we believe the number of facility staff for a well-run organization is one Full Time Facility Staff Employee for every 25,000 – 35,000 SF.
  2. Deferred Maintenance – These are the items that should have been addressed prior but for whatever reason, have not been accounted for. We have found that when insufficient general maintenance is budgeted, the likelihood of deferred maintenance increases…same for staffing. As stated above, the cost of deferred maintenance can be 3-4 times the cost of the initial general maintenance. Sounds like good stewardship to avoid deferred maintenance.
  3. Capital Reserve – We have found that a church needs $1-3/SF annually in order to keep up with the real cost life cycle planning. Capital replacement is not an “IF” consideration but rather a “WHEN” and “HOW MUCH”. While the $1-3/SF is a reasonable way to start planning, the best way is to do “line-item” projections for each asset that has a life cycle. If you have not already done so, check out our FREE Life Cycle Calculator to help you get started.  We also have a free eBook on this topic.
  4. Capital Projects – These would be the type projects like adding space or major renovations, expansions and the like. It would be “easy” to see the need for some added space and be tempted to take the money from one of the above buckets. Be VERY careful with that thinking…that is a slippery slope. In addition, small projects like painting, replacing a few light fixtures, etc could…and should…be part of your General Maintenance budget.

We fully believe that being intentional about all 4 buckets will keep you out of the dog house related to your facilities. If you need help evaluating these, do not hesitate to reach out and we will help you get started.


HVAC Solutions – FREE eBOOK

Can we all agree that HVAC operations, maintenance, scheduling, and replacement are one of the LARGEST expenditures, both in dollars and operation/manpower resources, that your church experiences?

Utility bills, HVAC maintenance, and HVAC replacement are significant costs for most churches. however, if we take the time to plan our energy usage carefully, we have the ability to reduce costs. If we reduce the amount of run-time, we can increase the life of our units if that is also coupled with proactive intentional maintenance. This frees up money to spend on other ministry endeavors.

Nearly every church in the county has some form of heating, cooling and ventilation system; as such, these issue are universal. They not exclusive to those in Miami or Anchorage.

“If we take the time to plan our energy usage carefully, we have the ability to reduce costs.”

In light of that, we have just released a new FREE eBook called HVAC Solutions: Taking control of your HVAC to Reduce Energy Costs, Extend Life Cycle, and Increase Operational Efficiency“.

This invaluable resource will help you better understand:

  1. The impact of your HVAC usage on your utility costs
  2. How maintaining and replacing HVAC units can get expensive
  3. Ways your facility staff could spend their time elsewhere
  4. That functioning HVAC units make people happy

We will also explore how to reduce energy costs and extend the life of your HVAC units by adopting more effective behaviors and the use of control systems.

Download your FREE copy today!


Utility bills, HVAC maintenance, and HVAC replacement are significant costs for most churches. HVAC usage can be attributed to 50-75% of your utility bills and HVAC maintenance and replace are your second or third largest capital expenditure not to mention the cost of staff to constantly change settings for events. If you are looking for a means by which to increase operational efficiency and control costs, then this resource is a MUST read.

The New “Front Porch”

If you lived around the turn of the century until the 1950’s, the front porch of the homes, general stores, and local businesses was a vital part of culture.  If  you wanted to know what was happening in your community, especially your immediate 5 minute walk, you could sit out on a front porch and see and hear what was going on.  My grandparents lived in an old house in Canton, Ohio with a front porch.  I can remember as a boy sitting out there and watching the neighbors interact…watching the “social media” of the day in full action.  My grandfather used to take me on a 3-4 minute walk up Second Street to the general store that also had a front porch that was occupied by people connecting, sharing life, and sharing experiences.  I also remember watching the Andy Griffith Show and seeing how the gents used to sit out front of Floyd’s Barbershop talking to the passerby’s and getting caught up on the local news (or gossip). If a new person or business came to town and you wanted to know more about it/them, you could hang out with these boys and get the skinny.

The front porch was a primary means of gathering information.  It is also the place that a “first impression” of something or someone might be developed. If the boys in the rockers said that the new hardware store was a great new addition to the community, your first impression would be positive.  The converse would also be true. If you wanted to know what was going on at the local church, you could hear the latest by hanging out on the front porch.  Or you would ask your neighbor as you swung on your front porch swing and they played catch with their kids in the street or front yard.

So what about in today’s culture? I would suggest that in 2017 (as in the previous 5-10 years), the new front porch is the internet, websites, social media and the like. While the traditional “front porch” has been decimated by zoning laws, busyness, and our desire to hibernate/escape society in our suburban settings (which is where I live as well), we have turned to other means and methods to gain the information that we desire. Like it our not, the new “first impression” of your church may have little or nothing to do with your facility, preaching, music, friendliness, denominational affiliation or any of the other things we think attract guests.  In fact, more times than not, a first time guest (not visitor) is going to check you out on the web before darkening your doors.  They will check out your website.  They may Google the church and see if there are any reviews or good/bad press about the church. What if they get to your site and there is a picture of Brittany Spears (see pic of a real church website…oh, my)? If you can capture their attention…which is usually less than 1 minute…they may even check out a sermon or podcast.  From that initial experience, they will make a determination if they want to physically come and check you out.  If your website and other internet interactions do not tell a story that impacts their interest, they will be moving on to the next website.  Period.

I know that many of you are thinking, “How shallow.” Really?!?!?  You think that? When was the last time you were looking for a good place to have dinner and you searched the internet before leaving your house or office?  Did you open a website to be unimpressed by the “presentation” and representation of the establishment, so you moved on to another?  I know I have…and I have missed out on some great dining experiences because the website turned me off. Whether we like to admit it or not, first time guests, especially a non-believer, is a consumer.  They are “shopping” for an experience and that experience starts on the web.  I know many “churched” people don’t like to think in these terms, but that’s reality…deal with it (in Jesus name).  Just like you “shop” on line for a restaurant that meets YOUR needs and expectations, people are doing the same thing with church.

One of the biggest factor for churches is being intentional about who you’re trying to reach.  For example, making a church style website with tabs like “ministries,” “service times” and “current series” will generally just appeal to your standard church audience.  The key is to really think through who you’re speaking to and trying to reach.  Is the site for your existing attendees?  Seekers who have never had a church experience?  Seekers who have walked away from church after being raised in a religious household?

Over the next several weeks we are going to talk more about the “story” your church facility tells.  “Story” is a huge part of our interaction with people and having a congruent story about or churches starts not at the front door, but at your new “Front Porch”. How inviting is your front porch?

Check out our book, Why Church Buildings Matter. Church facilities will not save a person from a life of sin and frustration. But the lack of attention to the church campus can indeed be the road block to reaching those people that need to hear the gospel message the most. Don’t minimize their impact. This book will reveal how to maximize your church facility to share the greatest story ever told, the gospel.

Well Diggers vs. Temple Builders

“We are well diggers instead of temple builders”, is a phrase I heard for the first time from some folks at Visioneering Studios.  The first time I heard it, I needed to have it explained…but once it was, it really resonated with me.

The concept is fairly simple and yet profound.  It is based on the John 4 passage about the Samaritan woman at the well. Most of us that have been around “church” for any length of time, know this story.  We know that Jesus goes to a well in the middle of the day and meets a woman with a sorted past and shares life with her by getting a drink of H2O…physical water, and then offers and provides living water…a relationship with Jesus.  I have heard dozens of sermon applications about this story and I am sure you have as well. So how does it apply to church facility development?  This is where it really gets cool.

The concept is that we need to look for opportunities to develop “wells” on our campuses and within our communities and not just temples.  The well is representative of several attributes that I believe the church, as a whole, has not done a great job in providing to our communities.  We have been notorious in building temples…you know, buildings that are used one or two days a week – places that people in our community believe you have to act, look, and smell a certain way to enter – a place with too many “thou shalt not”  rules, whether they are real or perceived.

A well, on the other hand, is a part of the community.  It represents a place that was/is a vital part of  that culture.  People came there 7 days a week to get water…but also to see their neighbor, get caught up on what was going on in each others lives, share concerns, and sometimes just hang.  They would do life together, not just on the weekend…but every day.

The well was “common place”. It was not a top-of-mind place that the community folk would think of when contemplating a place to “meet God”. And yet, that is exactly what happened.  This common place become a destination were God meets a woman in need of a Savior…even though that is not what she was looking for that morning as she heading out to gather water.  They shared conversation, shared a drink of water, talked about the past, the present and what the future could be.  All of this happened in an environment that felt “common” to the woman…just the normal place she went every day…but this was an intentional encounter by Jesus.  He knew he was going to have this encounter.  He used the common place for the extraordinary. Verse 4 of this passage tells us that Jesus “had to go through Samaria”. The fact is, from a physical perspective, there were other routes he could have taken to get to Galilee. But he was intentional about going to Samaria…to have this encounter…to change a life.

But the story of the well did not end there. In vs. 28  it says, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?”  They came out of the town and made their way toward him.” The story continued…and the well was a drawing point for other people to come and hear from Jesus.  The woman went and told her neighbors that there was something cool happening at the well and that they needed to come check it out…and they did.  Do you not get excited to see how one “common place” experience…over a glass of water…in a non-temple setting, led to life change for not only a woman, but for others in her community.

As you think about your church facilities and campus, think about what “wells” you are providing your community for these kinds of encounters and then be intentional to open yourself up to meet people to do life and start a conversation that could change the world.

Check out our book, Why Church Buildings Matter. Church facilities will not save a person from a life of sin and frustration. But the lack of attention to the church campus can indeed be the road block to reaching those people that need to hear the gospel message the most. Don’t minimize their impact. This book will reveal how to maximize your church facility to share the greatest story ever told, the gospel.

Church Facility Stewardship eBook – FREE

Thanks to my friends at Church Executive Magazine, we are able to provide you a FREE copy of a new eBook simply entitled: “Church Facility Stewardship”

Who is this written for?  Great question!!  Anyone who…

  • > Is a Church Facility Manager
  • > Wants to jump start their facilities career
  • > Is an Operations Director
  • > Is responsible for facilities at your church
  • > Leads a group/team that takes the stewardship of their facilities seriously

This eBook is a great primer to get you started on the road to understanding the basics of an intentional and proactive Facility Stewardship (i.e Facility Management) initiative for your church or ministry.  The sections of this e-book include topics such as:

  1. Introduction to Facility Stewardship
  2. Facility Management vs. maintenance
  3. Base Line Best-Practices
  4. The Role of a Facility Manager
  5. Sample Periodic Site Assessment
  6. Top 5 Facility Management Issues
  7. Proactive Preventative Maintenance
  8. Church Management Software – Why you need a facilities component (Event Scheduler, Work Order Management, etc.

This 36 page eBook is chalked full of great information and application.  Click HERE to download your FREE copy today.Facility Stewardship Binder - Small

Then…for those of you who want to take it to the next level and obtain more information or tools for your team, order your copy of the Facility Stewardship Manual.  With almost 300 pages of relevant information, this is a must have for every church with a facility that God has entrusted them to steward. You will also want to explore the eSPACE Event Scheduler, Work Order Management and HVAC Integration tools.

I applaud you for taking these step to becoming the best steward of the Kingdom “tools” God has blessed you with.

Nathan Parr