What are you doing about your annual stewardship campaign right now? Yes, in July in the midst of a pandemic! Most of our churches have their annual campaign in the fall, but the time to begin is now. The stewardship house you want to build in the fall will be stronger if you begin to lay the foundation now.
1. Focus on relationships
Strong stewardship programs are built on vibrant relationships. How can you do this at this time? Can you have porch parties or other types of outdoor picnics or parties for small groups of people? Can you have Zoom coffees or parties? At the event someone can speak for a few (emphasis on few) minutes about all the wonderful things that are made possible by people’s generosity. Do not ask for anything.
2. Stay in touch with your donors
Donors want to know that their money is being well spent to further the mission of the church. You can send them a card that says thank you and gives them some information on what the church has accomplished. Use pictures with captions or tell a story about a life changed because of the work of your church.
3. Have a Thank You phone-a-thon
Members of the parish or your stewardship committee can call other parishioners and say thank you for their gifts of time, talent and financial resources. Your callers should tell them quickly and simply about something wonderful that is happening. You can check in to make sure they are doing well. Do not ask for anything.
4. Give Your Donors Information
Donors want transparency about the financial workings of the church. It helps to build trust. Put a report in all your digital communications and in your newsletter or bulletin. It doesn’t need to be long, but it should give information on income received versus projected and expenditures. Consider including a short story about a life changed, a new program you’ve been able to start, an update on a program – share some good news!
Show donors that you are a vibrant church. Create a culture of generosity, gratitude and giving in your church. Donors want to be part of a church that is positive, making a difference and helping them to grow in their own faith journey.
5. Map out the Fall Campaign
Build a strong foundation by starting to plan now for your campaign. Donors notice good planning. Here are some things to decide and do now: the dates of the campaign; a theme perhaps; begin work on your case or vision statement; decide how you will make contact with people and ask for their support; decide if data is needed to help you begin to frame your campaign. You will need to be especially creative this fall as you plan gatherings and how you communicate.
By trying these ideas now, you will set the stage for life-giving stewardship in the fall. The key, of course, is nurturing relationships and connecting with all who generously support the church’s ministry.
Here is an article I wrote this spring about church financial health during this pandemic.
Contact me if you have questions or need some brainstorming help.
Carolyn M. Chilton