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Growing giving is harder than a day-old biscuit from Cracker Barrel. But you already know this. Givers get stuck. Indeed, it’s one of ministry’s most elusive challenges: helping givers grow their generosity.

Financial literacy classes can help, especially for those who give little to nothing. Slashing debt and pumping up savings can make it easier to give.As wealth grows, however, it’s more difficult to see significant increases in regular giving patterns.

Raising the temperature of generous giving can help. Regularly hearing Jesus’ call to generosity, paired with new habits of corporate giving can slowly change culture and increase generosity. But “slowly” is the operative word here. Tending values and their accompanying habits takes methodical persistence over time. It’s essential for growing givers, but it’s no quick fix.

There is a surprising catalyst for giving which, by all indications, bumps givers out of the ruts they’ve worn into their giving habits. It’s making a gift in their will.

According to a 2012 study by Texas Tech researcher, Russell James, annual giving by nearly 10,000 study participants increased on average by $3,171 after they planned a gift in their will.

To spell this out, this means that before the study participants planned a gift in their will, their average annual giving was $4,210. After a gift in their will was planned, this average raised to $7,381. That’s a 75% increase!

Yes, this is counterintuitive. There’s an assumption that knowing a planned gift in their will shrinks the family inheritance, givers will pinch pennies. But exactly the opposite happens because more giving stretches the hearts and the hands of the giver.

Turns out, making a gift in a will is a launching pad for generosity.

Call it crazy talk, but what if growing giving was as easy as asking two simple questions: “Do you have a will?” and “Would you consider planning a gift in it?”

Feel funny about asking? Here’s an information sheet about how your members can create a legal will—quickly and 100 percent free!

When there’s already a will in place, give them 7 Reasons to Review Your Will, which explains why it’s important for a will to reflect current values and priorities.

You never know who might be poised to take their giving to the next level. And who knew something as ordinary as a simple will could be the spark to make that happen! 


Has the author considered that historical same value gifting, to the church for example, may be supplemented by giving to other worthwhile projects/organizations, thereby increasing gifting, but not to just one organization?

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