• Benevolence interpretation materials 2014

     

    The following benevolence interpretation materials are now available for download.   I encourage congregations to print them as part of their annual report, or otherwise make them available to members.

    “Our Ministry Story: Eastern Synod, 2014” (colour graphics)

    Narrative, colour, Word

    Narrative, colour, PDF

    “Our Ministry Story: Eastern Synod, 2014” (monochrome graphics)

    Narrative, monochrome, Word

    Narrative, monochrome, PDF

    “It’s a Wonderful Synod” (colour graphics)

    Wonderful, colour, Word

    Wonderful, colour, PDF

    “It’s a Wonderful Synod” (monochrome graphics)

    Wonderful, monochrome, Word

    Wonderful, monochrome, PDF

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  • Thanking plan

    Chick Lane is the Director of the Center for Stewardship Leaders at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota.  He writes a newsletter titled “Stewardship for the 21st Century” (subscribe here).  His latest issue is copied verbatim below.

    Idea #5 “ Develop a Plan for Thanking”

    By Chick Lane

    When I began my work at Luther Seminary over two years ago, my cube was located in the middle of the development staff. Working in a room of cubes provides one with the opportunity to overhear one side of many conversations. As I tried not to listen, what I heard going on was a lot of thanking.

     

    Eventually I started to notice a pattern to the thanking, so I asked one of my colleagues if Luther Seminary had a plan for how we thank people. The answer was, “Of course.” In fact, the plan is written out, detailing how the institution will thank donors for every imaginable giving circumstance.

     

    I’m not aware of any congregation that has a detailed “thank you plan,” but my experience at Luther Seminary makes me wonder why that is the case. It seems to me that having such a written plan would be a great guide for the congregation’s thanking of those who support the congregation’s ministry.

     

    A congregational plan would probably be fairly simple to develop. First, you would need to imagine every circumstance in which people might give to the congregation. The list would include such things as regular giving by members, a first time gift by a visitor, memorial giving, gifts to special appeals, gifts to the endowment fund, and gifts to a capital appeal. Obviously, the list would have to be customized to your congregation, and probably revised as use reveals additional opportunities to say thank you.

     

    Next, you would decide how you will acknowledge each gift. Regular giving might be acknowledged every quarter. A first time gift by a local visitor probably requires an immediate thank you that also includes information about the congregation and its ministry. So the process would go through each giving circumstance.

     

    Finally, and this may be the hard part, someone will need to monitor the plan to make sure it is being followed. Who is responsible for each type of thanking? Are they thanking in a timely manner? How is the whole process going? Certainly, after a few months, a meeting to assess the process and make adjustments would be a good idea.

     

    One more word about thanking. Over the past two weeks I have been in two conversations with pastors who take some time on Monday morning to write several thank you notes to members. Some of these thank you notes are because of levels of giving. Others are in response to something the person has done in the congregation’s life. If you are a pastor, might you consider three thank you notes each week to members? Over a year, you will have personally thanked 150 people.

     

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  • Thanking — a Testimonial

    This came today from a pastor who attended one of my workshops last fall.

    Hi Jeff,

    I thought I would let you know that one of your ideas went over very well in our congregation.  I sent thank you cards out with all the year end receipts.  One lady, who is 92, said, “In all the years I’ve given to the church no one has ever said thank you.”  She loved her card.  Thanks for the idea, as I work on the others you shared.

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  • Benevolence interpretation materials 2013

    The following benevolence interpretation materials are now available for download.   I encourage congregations to print them as part of their annual report, or otherwise make them available to members.

    “Our Ministry Story: Eastern Synod, 2013” (colour graphics)

    Narrative, colour, Word

    Narrative, colour, PDF

    “Our Ministry Story: Eastern Synod, 2013” (monochrome graphics)

    Narrative, monochrome, Word

    Narrative, monochrome, PDF

    “It’s a Wonderful Synod” (colour graphics)

    Wonderful, colour, Word

    Wonderful, colour, PDF

    “It’s a Wonderful Synod” (monochrome graphics)

    Wonderful, monochrome, Word

    Wonderful, monochrome, PDF

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  • Ten things we believe about giving

    Last time out I referred to the “20 Statements About Giving” exercise that is part of the Nurturing Generous Giving workshops I’ve been offering across the Eastern Synod.

    Spoiler alert:  this post and the next few are going to report on some of the more interesting results from the exercise.  If you wish to complete the survey before reading what other people said, click on this link.

    I have assembled the data from each workshop and produced a summary of the responses from all of them.  With around 125 people responding, I feel we have a reasonably representative sample of what congregational leaders believe about giving in their own church.

    The profile of responses was not the same in each workshop.  No doubt this indicates a variety of experience and belief, to some degree at least, across the synod.

    Half of the twenty statements produced a strong majority response.  Here are the ten on which there seems to be considerable consensus.

    1. “If we ask for money for a specific project, people respond generously.” —  94% agree
    2. “Many of our members are seniors on a fixed income.” — 91% agree
    3. “What people give to the church is considered a private matter between them and God.” — 83% agree
    4. “We teach that giving has both a spiritual and a practical side.” — 80% agree
    5. “We regularly thank people for the money and volunteer time they give to the church.” — 76% agree
    6. “We offer the PAR system for offerings and encourage people to use it.” — 67% agree
    7. “People are already giving as much money to the church as they can.” — 75% disagree
    8. “We have enough money to be the kind of church we want to be.” — 73% disagree
    9. “Our total congregational income is growing at or above the rate of inflation.” — 66% disagree
    10. “The pastor knows how much each person/household gives.” — 65% disagree

    In future posts I’ll examine each of these in greater details.

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  • Fundraising beliefs: true and false

    In a recent article published by the Alban Institute, Dan Hotchkiss takes an incisive look at beliefs that direct fundraising efforts in congregations.

    “At the risk of oversimplifying, people give money away for two main reasons: to extend their own accomplishments and to bond with a community.

    Dan Hotchkiss

    The article reviews four beliefs that are optimistic, wishful, and mistaken”.

    1. A unified stewardship drive is better than a lot of special appeals.”
    2. “Donors want their gifts kept secret.”
    3. “Only evangelicals can ask people to tithe.”
    4. “Faith and gratitude are the most important influence on people’s giving.”

    To read the full article, click here.

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  • Twenty statements about giving

    In an earlier post I referred to the “Nurturing Generous Giving” workshops that I began offering in 2012.  At the beginning of each program I asked participants to complete an exercise in three steps:

    • In the first step they completed a worksheet by themselves, without discussion.  The sheet contained twenty statements about giving, with the introductory phrase “In our congregation today . . .”  Participants checked off one of three boxes after each statement, labelled “agree”, “disagree” and “don’t know”.
    • In the second step, they discussed their responses with the other people at their table (often people from their own congregation).
    • In the third step we collected the responses to each question from the entire group, by show of hands .

    All of the statements are about matters of fact, and people’s responses reflect whether they believe them to be true.

    In future posts I am going to report on some of the more interesting results from the exercise

    If you wish to complete the survey before reading what other people said, click on this link.

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  • Generosity in the Eastern Synod

    Over the past few months I’ve been travelling across the territory of the Eastern Synod offering a workshop called “Nurturing Generous Giving”.  There have been events in:

    • Wellesley, ON
    • Sudbury, ON (Hannah Lake Bible Centre)
    • Eganville, ON
    • Lunenburg, NS
    • Burlington,ON
    • New Hamburg, ON [both and2]

    Others are scheduled for 2013 in London, ON and Montreal, QC.

    To learn more about the program, or to explore the possibility of scheduling a session in your area, drop me a line at jpym@elfec.ca.

    A breakout group in the Hannah Lake chapel

    I have been impressed by the commitment of the people who showed up at these workshops.  In total, more than 120 people gave up several hours on a Saturday to think about the future of their church, time they could have used to do other things.  In the case of the group who met at Hannah Lake Bible Centre in Sudbury, several carloads of people came from Sault Ste. Marie and Timmins.  That meant that they spent 6 hours or more on the road, in addition to the 4 hours of the workshop.

    Photo op at Hannah Lake

    In the quilting room at Zion L.C. in Lunenburg

    Congregational discussions in Lunenburg

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  • Signs of the imminent apocalypse

    Today I received an email that opened with these words:

    It’s Black Friday so we wanted to hook you up with a killer discount on all Giving, Preaching & Systems resources.

    This is from a company whose slogan is  “We coach the church, providing the best content and building community among church leaders.”

    You can’t make this stuff up.

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  • Understanding the donor psyche

    In other places I have sung the praises of email newsletters.  I subscribe to about a dozen of them and find them a helpful way to stay in touch on various topics.

    One that I particularly like comes from Sumac, a company that sells fund-raising software to charities.  I haven’t tried out their product, and I’m certainly not shilling for them, but their newsletter is great and their graphics are cool. 

    The newsletter arrives every month or two and contains several articles of interest to people who work in the charitable sector, particularly fund-raising (natch).  The last issue came with links to three articles, all of them interesting.  But the one that was particularly striking bore the title “6 Truths About The Donor Psyche & How They Inform Nonprofit Marketing” and came with this teaser:

    Peter Singer, arguably the most famous and influential modern philosopher, delves into to the human psyche to determine what’s holding people back from giving at their full potential. He cites 6 reasons, which give way to 6 very clear things you can do to inspire giving in your next campaign!

    If you are put off by the word “victim” in reason #1, I suggest you replace it with “beneficiary”.  It will make just as much sense and probably fit our context better.

    To go straight to the full article, click here.

    Clicking on the “Library” tab at the top of the Sumac web page will take you to . . . you guessed it:  a library of past newsletter articles, all helpfully sorted into categories.  Enjoy!

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