Day 9:42 am

  • Christmas Appeal Letter

    The week after Victoria Day is an odd time to be writing about a Christmas appeal letter, I know.  However, you may want to consider discussing this with your council or stewardship committee now so you can begin making plans in the fall.

    St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Cambridge was facing a budget deficit in the fall of 2011.  They had published articles about it in their newsletter, which produced two gifts — one of them large.  But those amounts were not enough to eliminate the looming shortfall.

    So they decided to mail out a Christmas appeal letter (see it here:  christmas letter st peter cambridge).  It went in the mail on December 14.  All but one of the responses listed below came in before year-end — an amazingly fast turnaround, in my opinion.

    (Incidentally, they mailed a different letter to the two member households that had responded to the newsletter articles.  It was substantially the same as the one most people received, but it omitted the request for a year-end donation.  It was essentially a thank-you letter.  And everyone who made a donation in response to the appeal also got a letter of thanks.)

    It appears that this is the kind of appeal that could be conducted more than once in a congregation.  Notice that the letter did not mention the budget deficit or the dire consequences that might ensue.  The tone of desperation that characterizes so many of our “stewardship” efforts is missing.

    Instead, the letter is focused on:

    • listing the many ways the congregation serves the broader community;
    • thanking members for their support (at the beginning and end of the letter);
    • inviting members to contribute as they are able, out of a sense of gratitude for God’s blessings;
    • providing information about seasonal worship services.

    People can take offense at all kinds of trivial things, but it’s hard to find anything in this letter someone could complain about.

    Here’s a summary of the appeal’s results.

    Letters mailed:  152

    Envelopes returned:  30 (19.7%)

    Total donations:  $3,130 (the total may in fact be higher; some people may have donated but not used the special envelope)

    Average donation:  $104

    Donation range:  $10-500

    This is something you might want to do in your congregation — even if you don’t have budget deficit.  Imagine what ministry you could undertake with a few thousand additional dollars!

    continue reading