In our latest episode of the Generosity Labs Podcast, we sit down with Nadine Raphael. Nadine has been with the Christian Life Center in Florida for 16 years and is the current Chief Operating Officer. She’s really got a handle on finances, generosity, administration and how the three work together.
In this episode, Nadine talks about
- What demographic they’re getting ready for
- CLC’S 5 different ways to give
- How much growth they experienced through digital giving
- How they follow up with donors
- How to earmark donations
In this episode, Nadine mentions
- Christian Life Center
- Corporate Business Review
Reach out to Nadine on email firstname.lastname@example.org
You can listen, subscribe or watch my interview with Nadine Raphael below.
The Generosity Labs Podcast is part of a new resource hub for pastors, providing free resources and information about digital giving. You can find more free resources here.
A full transcription is below
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Kenny: Hi to all our church leaders tuning in today. My name is Kenny Jahng, and Generosity and Giving as it relates to the church is one of the biggest and most important conversations we can have across faith communities. And, that’s why today we have Nadine Raphael. So glad to have you in the show today, Nadine!
Nadine: Thank you so much. Glad to be here.
Kenny: So, Nadine, you’ve been with the Christian Life Center in Florida for the last 16 years, right?
Nadine: That is correct. Yes.
Kenny: I believe that you served a variety of roles: business administrator, community life pastor and now, most recently taken a role of chief operating officer.
Nadine: It’s correct. Yes.
Kenny: So, let’s just get right into it. Let’s hear a little bit more about you and your church. Tell us a little bit about what your role really means on a daily basis and what is your church community look like. If we were to come visit on a Sunday and sit down on a seat and look around, what it would look like? What would we feel like in your community?
Nadine: Christian Life Center has been around for over 40 years. Recently, we went to a transition as our previous senior pastor took the opportunity to raise up the next generation of leaders and then, move out into more international missions. Our current senior pastor, Pastor Tom Manning has been for this for 5 years. Prior to him getting there was pretty much a traditional older crowd that we knew. It was a strong crowd. It has been around for a long time, but we knew that we needed to connect more with younger families, young adults and things of that nature. And so, over the past 5 years, we have more of into just a melting pot from the youngest of youngs. We have a strong children’s ministry. Our young adults is a vibrant community of one thousand. And then, we have from young adults to obviously senior age. So we are populated for about forty-five thousand. Now, we are making a strong presence in the community just doing a lot of outreach events and mission events. We’re very vibrant. We are known for our worship style. It’s very engaging when people comes to our church. That is the first they said and talk about. So I’ve been here just transitioning with all of that being said to phenomenal senior pastor. And now, my role on a day-to-day basis is to oversee the entire operations of the church. We have four campuses. So, overseeing the day-to-day operations and being the lighthouse obviously in our community as well.
Kenny: It’s pretty cool. I think in that area is just fabulous. It’s a great place to be in.
Nadine: Oh, it is.
Kenny: Since you’ve been there for such a long time, what is the demographic span? I believe from my understanding, specially in that area, you have a good mix. It’s not one of those communities where it’s just older population or just young dynamic population. Does your church really have a cross section of decades?
Nadine: Yes. Not only decades but we also have 32 nationalities represented in our congregation. But, we spend, generally, like I said, we have strong young adults presence. And then our young families, 30’s and 40’s age group is also very strong in our community and then obviously our senior age. One of the things that I do want to point out is that we’re, — as I said, also an initiative for us — we are seen on a larger demographic of single parenting. So, we’ve used our church as a hub to help single parents, reach out to single parents, and counsel single parents on how to help parent their children all by themselves. That is a new demographic that we’re also seen growing not just in our context, but also across the United States.
Kenny: That’s really cool that your church is doing that earlier you’re aware of the changing dynamic of the community. Let’s talk about giving and generosity in your church. You’ve got a great compelling story. Tell us a little bit about that journey of transitioning donors online. First of all, what are all the different types of ways that people can give online? Can they give out paper, check and cash? Right?
Kenny: And do you have an offering basket that is passed or how that is working on given Sunday?
Nadine: We have an offering plate that gets passed throughout our services obviously. And then, we do have online giving; we have text giving; we have mailing giving; we have ACH giving. We have about 5 different ways that people can give. With the majority still, we did come from a traditional background, so, we did still have those that give by cash and checks. So we when we’re trying to make this transition, I’ll tell you honestly, our board members were concerned, those that are on our staff, they were concerned because they didn’t know. ‘Is this Biblical?’. How people were gonna response to this? You know the text said, “Bring your tithes into the storehouse.” How people are going to respond to this? And I was one of those sceptics, I’ve been around 16 years here at Christian Life Center. I was one of those sceptics who wonder, “Is it going to affect anyone that we’re trying now some electronic giving?” So, we decided, we needed to provide different ways probably different demographics from younger to older that not everyone carries around checks like they used to, not everyone carries around cash for safety. More and more people are using the plastic cards. So, we decided we needed to appeal to all ages and once we did, to be honest with you, what we saw was a large number of our congregation raised it. And not only that, we developed a new pool of giving of our first time givers watching online and started to give. And so, we saw a bump of 20% which was huge for us and then we realize, this was what we understood is that people wanted to give. It didn’t matter how they give. Giving is a thing of the heart and not a method. It wasn’t so much caught up in a method as it was God inspired me to give, I want to give back what he has given me and I want to make a difference. And so, they would just open to the fact that this is a convenient way for me to here and it’s also safe way.
Kenny: I love that. So there’s so many things to unpack here that’s so good. Let’s talk about those new givers. You’re saying that there are people that started to give for first time to your ministry electronically not in cash or check, the first transaction was electronic digitally.
Kenny: And, the count is 20% new audiences that you guys have reached.
Nadine: Yes, that’s right.
Kenny: What do you do there for the follow up? Are you finding repeat givers or it’s just one done?
Nadine: No. You have your few one and done. They watch our services online. They want to give that way. But, for the 99%, they are repeat givers. What we found was that even what we thought that it was going to be the younger/young adult generation, but, we also found that it was just young families. Even in our senior community, it was those as well. And I think what people started to find, to be honest with you, Kenny, is just the convenience of it all. It was just a click of a button. They added us to their mobile devices called CLC giving. They name it something like that. So each time we presented a project or when it’s time to give tithes and offerings, they just pick their mobile devices and click the button. And I do want to point something else out that we’ve found later on is that there were natural disasters that were coming up, emergency were coming up that the church wanted to participate in. That people weren’t in that particular weekend didn’t know that they were going into a service where there was going to be a pool or ask to give towards a natural disaster. So, they would have been prepared, but because we provided this way of thanksgiving they were able to participate in the moment. Some people would say, “Well, you know why I go home and next week, I participated in.” But, the moment is gone. The feeling, the tug of the heart is gone, so it’s good for them to be able to give in that moment.
Kenny: That’s quite awesome. So you have both directive giving and general giving. Do you have special codes? How do you know if you’re raising money for a missions trip or a disaster. How do you message that from the stage?
Nadine: Okay. What we would do is that we know that we had a giving towards Haiti or something like that. We would create a keyword called Haiti where huge of missions in our congregation would give towards local statewide and internationally. So, we would just create those keywords that represents those projects. So, when we would present the ask to the congregation , we would just tell them, “In order to give to this particular project, just put the keyword HAITI or put the keyword FLOOD.”
Kenny: A couple of things. Where does that planning start? Is it with the pastor? Is it the giving team? The finance? The actual ministry team? In terms of being able to say, “Hey, we should use a keyword and we should message.” The messaging from the stage on a Sunday is so cautious, right? What is that process internally and how long in advance is that? Does someone have to lobby for that? And how long does it take to to actually line the up keyword so that you guys can start using it?
Nadine: It’s 2 things. Basically 3 individuals, it would be the senior pastor, the business administrator, and myself. Once we know that there were project coming up, we’ll go ahead and get together and say, “What’s the best word for that?” It can be a text; it can be an email; it’s very miniscule. But, sometimes, we can have given in the moments. My senior pastors sometimes may be very spontaneous. From the pulpit, sometimes, he’ll say, “You know what I just feel that we need to give towards this particular family, or we need to give towards this particular project.” For our business administrator, from her phone, from her mobile device, and actually create the keyword while he was live on the platform and the people can give just like that towards that keyword.
Kenny: I love that. What system are you using for that to be able to make it that easy?
Nadine: We used CCB. You mean the background? We use Church Community Builder which is easy.
Kenny: Right. That’s one of the major players for the church managing systems. And then, for the text to give, what service are you using for them?
Kenny: Yes. They use a smart giving type. Let’s talk with the back operations there and some logistics. Let’s narrow it down a little bit. You have Kindrid giving. People message from the platform; people would give on a Sunday. How do you reconcile that into the CCB, your donor profile. What’s the process? Is there a data entry team? How do actually hook up the two systems together? Is that easy or hard?
Nadine: At one point, it was difficult before we started using Kindrid Text Giving. Because what would happened is people would give online through our 3rd party giving system online before we had text giving. And then we would have to match that person into the system. It will just a little of cumbersome. Through text giving, their name through the Kindrid, through their back system that they are using, it automatically matches the person in our CCB database…
Kenny: So, it’s not a manual process?
Nadine: No. Now, if the Kindrid system cannot find this person because it’s a first time giver, and our CCB database inputs them in a holding pattern to let us know, these are your first time givers. And, we can actually gain their information through Kindrid because Kindrid has forward their information and actually add them now to our database. So, we can send them a Thank You letter, send them giving statements. So, it has really helped us to stay in contact with us.
Kenny: That’s what computers supposed to do right? Technology supposed to make our life easy when you can integrate all that. That’s great. So, you don’t have multiple database that you need to look into for someone’s giving history?
Nadine: Oh no. We just have one database which is CCB. We can actually look at their giving, put out their statements, email their statements and it has every way that they given. Sometimes, the person may give cash. Sometimes that same person may give a check. And, sometimes that person will text. So, all of that is combined on their giving statement.
Kenny: And okay. So, that CCB profile has all the history in one place?
Kenny: Great, great. And so, you said that text giving is actually something that people have embraced, large percentage of the congregation actually ends up giving by text. What percentage is that at this point?
Nadine: Well it started a little bit above 30 percent that has embraced the giving. I mean, it started out 5 to 10 percent. I think it was important for the senior pastor to continue to present it from his speaking platform, and then to encourage them assure that is the safe way of giving. Kindrid also provided us a very clean 3 step process of how the member from the congregation can get their giving set up through text. And once we played that video in our Sunday morning services, it will just be easy for everyone else to follow soon.
Nadine: For now, it just continues to grow and even in our giving society, people are more comfortable now with carrying around plastic cards.
Kenny: Sure sure, now you said 20% new givers in your community which means it must be pretty easy in terms of instructions. It’s not some complicated manifested it to go through north to figure it out. On a given Sunday, during your offering time, literally, how do you message that text to give on the screens? Do you play that video every single week? Is it on envelopes? In the bulletin? What do you literally say to get people to understand the text to give?
Nadine: Okay. There are several different ways to people learn to different methods. What we’ve done we placed the video of how to give on our website. In our envelopes, our tithing envelopes is simple steps — a very simple step on the back of that envelope — so that they can give there as well. If they’re giving by checks, they can also know that they can give through text. In our tithe talk, we also communicate the number on the screen while we are doing our tithe talk. And we would just simply say, we have different ways for you to give. It doesn’t matter which way you choose. All is honored by God if given with a heart of thanksgiving. And we will put the number on the screen, and it has the 3 steps right underneath the number. But initially, when we were first going live with this initiative, we did play tt the video a few times and a few weeks in our services.
Kenny: But today, there is no need to put it on, and still, first time givers are actually lining up so, it’s not like it’s a complicated process it seems.
Nadine: No, not at all. Very simple
Kenny: Looking back, You said you are one of those that have hesitations at the very early conversation level. And, I think that’s what a lot of people who are watching today, listening into this conversation, they are on the same place. What was one of the biggest concerns that you have back then? Is it logistics? Is it finance? Is it the percentage? Is it the theology? What was the largest obstacle in your mind when you are thinking about the process for your church?
Nadine: The theology piece. I thought that there was a lack of — it wasn’t personal. So, I attached giving to — I don’t know. I guess because I was raised old-school on the church that you put it in the offering plate. So, I was caught up on the method and not the heart. Once I’ve reconciled that spiritually, that God cares about the heart and He does things differently and that can’t box it to say that this is the only way to be done, once I dump over that hurdle, I realized I could have been a blockage of allowing people to participate in the act of worship — given as the act of worship and I didn’t want want to come to me that thing.
Kenny: One follow up question about the actual experience, has total giving gone up, down, stay the same? Has there been a sacrifice? Has giving gone down? What is it like today?
Nadine: Our giving has increased every year. Every year we see a steady climb. At the close of 2016, we had our meeting actually, yesterday. And I just thanked God for the increase that he has granted to our church body. We have steadily climbed in our giving in our congregation.
Kenny: There are obstacles people talk about is that people are unwilling to give large amounts via text. Have you seen that as the numbers coming or is it only small digit giving that is coming through text?
Nadine: No, People give their tithe. Some people tithe monthly. Some people tithe weekly. We actually have a cool story. There is someone that was watching we have a heart for the house which is our visit day. Sermon series where we just go all in sacrificial giving. Someone was watching us online, I forgot what country they were in. They weren’t in the United States. And gave $50,000. They’re on online giving. We were shocked. This isn’t real. It’s gonna come back. It’s just a mistake. But, it was real. People are willing to give if the cause is there, if God is talking in their hearts. I don’t think it’s a matter of process. I think, again, it goes back to heart.
Kenny: I love hearing stories like that. Technology enabling ministry to reach worldwide and come together as one body. It’s a great story. So, thank you so much for your time. Let’s end this interview with a lightning round of questions, if you’re ready Nadine.
Kenny: A lot of leaders are watching or listening today because they want to learn. They want to up their game. What’s one good book, conference or other resource that you might have stumbled upon ora have been using recently that you can share with our audience today?
Nadine: Well, I actually subscribe to corporate business review. I’m a COO. And so, it’s just good for me to know what’s the latest technology, what’s going on out there in our world. I find that even outside the church people give towards charity and I want to see what compels the person who is not following God to give towards the charity or donations. And, so learning from different scopes not just in the church context but outside the church context has helped me further the initiative within our church.
Kenny: I love it. I’m actually subscribed to it, too, at HPR. Okay, what’s one big thing that you’re looking forward to in the year 2017 regarding your church community?
Nadine: I’m looking forward to more community presence. We do a lot of community outreach, I would like to see a scope further not just in the inner city. We’re strong in the inner city but also to those individuals that are in a homeless shelter. Those individuals that are not even struggling financially but they may be void of God and don’t know Him. And so I want us to see us partner more with different organizations to see how they can help our community and give hope especially in this times. There is just a lot of hopelessness.
Kenny: Great. The third question is where are you getting your inspiration and education around giving and donor development. Where do you look to at this point?
Nadine: I know this is going to sound cliche, but I’m sorry Kenny, it’s the honest truth. I looked to the Word of God. I see that giving is God’s idea. Everyone that He’s ever touched their heart. They became givers. And, so if I looked through the Scripture and see that not only did God compel people to give but He, Himself was a giver. And that helps me to know how to provoke generosity in others. I got to say this as well, Kenny. Sometimes, we are afraid to ask people to give, and it’s actually what people are waiting for. Because sometimes they see a big church or they see a thriving church, they say, they don’t need my financial help. So if we present the cause in front of them, if we present in the opportunity in front of them, people are ready to respond.
Kenny: That’s amazing. Thank you so much for all your insights. If people today wants to get in touch with you, what’s the best method to do that?
Nadine: I have a Facebook account. It’s Nadine Raphael on Facebook. I also have my email email@example.com
Kenny: Thank you so much for being on the show today with us.
Nadine: Thank you for having me
Kenny: And thanks to our audience who are listening into our conversation on digital giving in the church. Hope this episode has been useful to all of you. Do me a favor and like this episode and review us on the podcast iTunes. It really helps us reach more church leaders across the country on such important issue that affects the future of the church. Well that’s a wrap. I’m Kenny Jahng for Generosity Labs. ‘Til next time. Check out our website at generositylabs.org. And, remember when we give from the heart, that’s where the real giving starts.