June 8, 2017

Six Ideas Toward a Fall Campaign

One of the positive features of a capital campaign that seeks extraordinary giving participation is that once the asking phase starts, it's over relatively quickly. The campaign leadership committee is engaged for about 4 months. Other Volunteers are active with specific responsibilities for relatively short periods of time. It's a project, not a lifetime commitment.

Now think about the stewardship activity of your parish. Many of us may consider that to be more of a drudgery assignment. Year after year. Over and over. While a capital campaign rolls around every 5 to 10 years and generally boasts big, compelling needs, annual giving is sometimes viewed as just the same old message about the same old budget.

If your parish has settled into a bit of a stewardship rut, this summer may be the perfect time to get some fresh voices involved to brainstorm a new approach: an energized annual giving campaign. Here are 6 ideas to get you started:

  1. Identify what is most loved about your faith community. Does it feel like family? Is worship inspiring? Is Jesus serving people in the neighborhood through the congregation's hands and feet?
  2. Start to describe these meaningful ministries in writing - just among your committee. For each beloved ministry, find and describe a specific IMPACT it made in someone's life recently.
  3. Choose a campaign theme that captures the energy and impact of your faith community.
  4. Develop a communications plan that celebrates the theme before and after pledge cards are available. Be creative! Use a variety of mediums and methods to introduce the theme (Facebook posts, Twitter, bulletin boards). Take advantage of other events that may be happening during your campaign, such as the commissioning of Sunday school teachers. Ask your rector, or another individual, to mention that "the Christian formation of our youth is made possible because of the financial commitment we all make to St. John's." Use a coffee hour to celebrate clergy and staff. Surprise oldest long-time members one Sunday with gifts of garden bouquets. Borrow from PBS after a particularly rousing anthem: "This music ministry is made possible by annual pledgers like you. Thank you!" Finally, create written materials that summarize the theme, use photos and compelling stories to describe impact and explain that it is time to pledge financial commitment out of gratitude for the abundance God gives us.
  5. Develop a plan for personally distributing the materials and pledge cards. (You're on a roll - don't give in to mailing a letter which is easy, but absolutely the least effective method). While certainly wonderful to do, you don't have to make one-on-one visits to people at home. Create a way to personally hand the information and pledge card to a parishioner with a personal invitation such as, "I hope you can join me in thanking God by making a financial pledge for next year."
  6. End the campaign with a community celebration of thanksgiving.