Annual Campaign Tip Sheet
(A guide to increased success and the practice of generosity)
The Right People
Recruit people who understand generosity to lead your campaign. While it seems obvious, it might surprise you that many congregations often “settle” for leadership in this area of the Church’s life rather than actively seeking persons who are passionate about stewardship. Accountants, bankers, and bookkeepers are not always your best choice. Request help from the Financial Secretary, or whomever it is in your context who knows what people give to the ministry and mission of your congregation. This person should be able to provide you with some names, if not actual numbers, to create an “ask” list. These are not always people who give the largest amounts, but rather people who clearly are committed to the cause of Christ through their giving. Remember the “widow’s mite” as well as the “top ten” dollar amounts. Do not try to guess who your large donors are – you will get it wrong more times that you get it correct. Remember to pray about these choices before you ask them to prayerfully consider the invitation to serve.
Give yourself and your team enough time to prepare. Think about the many ways you want to reinforce the campaign beyond announcements during worship. How will you teach about stewardship and its relationship to faith as a spiritual discipline? (Sunday school, small groups, links to web-based resources should be considered, as well as when they will be offered and how you will recruit participants.) What will sermons focus on and when during the campaign will they be delivered? (Text selection, theme related material, and integration into worship planning are important and require time and strong intentional communication with other church leaders.) As you disseminate information relative to dates, purpose, and procedures, what methods of communication will you utilize and when? (Newsletters, social media, announcements, letters, personal contacts and informal networks should all be in play.) Theme development and interpretation should also be considered. (The Ecumenical Stewardship Center provides annual campaign materials via the “Giving” resource. Contact them for more information www.stewardshipresources.org.)
A Clear Vision
Do people understand what they are actually supporting and underwriting with their gifts? State your vision and mission clearly – people will give to a cause before they will give to an institution. Make your cause compelling – why should people give and what will be the difference made if they do so generously. How does their gift bring about “Gospel Style” transformation? (Narrative budgets can be very helpful here, if you present a budget as a part of your annual campaign.) If your vision for what God is calling you to be as a faith community is unclear at this time, raising funds will be more difficult. (For help with developing a vision for your congregation, contact Hope Partnership www.hopepmt.org.)
Remember it starts with you and your congregational leadership. You can’t preach what you don’t personally practice. The pastor, elders and other church leaders should be “first” in making their commitments – and every member of your Church Board is to be encouraged to give something (financial) so that you can say with truth and conviction that you have 100% participation from your core leaders. We recommend getting commitments from core leadership in advance of the congregation’s Commitment Day. Then, before people are challenged to offer their investment, they can be inspired by a report of the increase in leadership gifts (either a dollar amount or percentage).
Provide for Alternative Methods of Giving
Donations to non-profit agencies increased 14 percent in 2012 (The Chronicle of Philanthropy, June 2013). Fewer and fewer checks are written each year in the global banking system. People don’t carry checks or cash – is your church adjusting to this shift in our culture? Electronic transfers, and debit/credit card transactions are not the future, they are now. Are you prepared to receive gifts other than cash? Do you have policies in place that demonstrate you are prepared to receive gifts of stock or real property? Are these alternatives for giving promoted and encouraged? If people use electronic methods for regular giving, do you provide a card for them to place in the offering plate that indicates that they make their gift electronically? Disciples have a relationship with Vanco Services – find a link on our website under Resources: ‘electronic giving’.
Be Sure to Say Thank You!
At the end of your campaign, be sure to communicate a thank you to those who have made a commitment to your ministry and mission. This letter can also clarify the donor’s intention relative to the amount to be given and the manner in which they intend to fulfill that commitment (weekly, monthly, year-end, etc.). Communicating in this way also allows you to once again restate your mission and the ways in which their resources will make ministry happen. Plan to communicate quarterly with your regular donors. This should not be simply a report of their numbers, but yet another chance for you to say thank you and tell them about one way lives are being changed because of their generosity.
Begin Year-Round Stewardship Planning
Meet to wrap-up and evaluate your campaign, and start the conversation now about how you will teach stewardship throughout the year, rather than leaving it for the annual campaign when it will only be associated with the budget. Think also on the importance of having up-to-date policies about planned giving and how to effectively promote the expectation of receiving bequests and estate gifts. All Saints Day (Sunday closest to November 1) is a great time to celebrate generosity and encourage folks to include the church in their wills. Contact the Christian Church Foundation for more information www.christianchurchfoundaton.org
For more information on stewardship education and best practices, visit the Center for Faith and Giving Website at www.centerforfaithandgiving.org ; or contact Rev. Bruce A. Barkhauer 317-713-2404; firstname.lastname@example.org