The weekend before Thanksgiving is always a very special one around here. It’s when we ask for money.
A few notes about that.
First, we only ask for money once a year.
Not counting the Archbishop’s Annual Appeal, which we have no control over, we only ask for money once year when it comes to giving to our local parish church. Don’t get me wrong, we talk about money as often as it comes up in the Lectionary (which is a lot because Jesus talked about it all the time). But when it comes to offertory giving, we ask once and only once a year.
Second, we create a path for giving.
Instead of just challenging people to give more, we create a path for them to do it. This is incredibly important for people who aren’t currently giving anything, or just throwing spare change in the basket as it goes by (we call that “tipping God.”) First of all, we talk about planned giving. If you don’t have a plan it is never going to happen, however good the intentions. Whatever the level of giving, a plan is the first and most important step is to make. Toward that end we distribute “commitment cards” and ask people to fill them out and return. We don’t really learn much from the cards, and that’s not really the point. The point is committing to a plan. Next we talk about priority giving, asking parishioners to give first when it comes to their budgeting. Another part of the path is percentage giving, keeping in mind the Biblical standard of the tithe, we challenge people to pick a percentage, any percentage and start giving there. Then, we talk about progressive giving, which is just about growing the percentage toward the tithe.
Third, we talk about vision and mission not need.
Nobody wants to give to need. Sure, people’s hearts can be touched by a special, unexpected need, like disaster relief. And they can sometimes be goaded into giving through guilt. But in terms of an ongoing form of communication about giving, it is not going to ever be a successful strategy. Neediness is not attractive and people don’t want to give to it. People want to give, and to continue to give, to a vision that is compelling and a mission that they care about. Don’t try and raise money in your church based on your church’s needs. Don’t tell them what you need. Tell them what you’re doing and where you’re going.
Fourth, we celebrate wins.
A huge part of our Stewardship Sunday celebration is just about celebrating the good things that are happening in the parish, especially when it comes to changed lives. We tell stories (that we gather all year long) of what a difference the church is having in people’s lives.
Fifth, we say “thank you.”
We have a saying around here “whatever gets rewarded gets repeated.” Saying “thanks” to all our current donors is the best way to challenge them to give moving forward. And it is a far more positive way to motivate people who aren’t currently supporting you.
Happy Thanksgiving to all of our readers.
We are grateful to each of you for your support and friendship.