• Digital Giving: Models and Tools ✓
    Webinars
    Research on nonprofit fundraising suggests that as donor age decreases, the prevalence of the following donor questions increases: (1) Can I give online? and (2) How is my money making a difference? This webinar will survey digital tools to support v…
  • Pledging: Should Clergy Know? ✓
    Vestry Papers
    Opinions vary as to whether or not ordained leaders of faith communities should be familiar with what parishioners are pledging. Erin Weber-Johnson reached out to her church campaign colleagues and asked them to share their experiences, pro and con.
  • Year Round Stewardship: Talking About Money ✓
    Webinars
    We hear it all the time: You need to be doing year round stewardship! But how do we engage the topic of money in a way that is fun, engaging and deeply spiritual? How do we offer stewardship formation in a way that encourages giving as a spiritual pr…
  • Basics of Parish Finance ✓
    Webinars
    How congregations spend their money is a clear indication of their understanding of mission and ministry. For any parish leader, lay or clergy, a quick look at the financial situation can help one discern a key piece of the congregation's identity an…
  • Stewardship for the New Millennium ✓
    Webinars
    More than just raising funds to meet the needs of the parish operating budget, annual stewardship is an opportunity to nurture and grow our faith and spirituality within our Episcopal communities. We will guide you to the most effective ways to tell …
  • Annual Giving Campaign Tools ✓
    Tools
    Does your congregation think about and talk about stewardship only during the annual funding campaign? If so, you’re missing year-round opportunities for formation. Not sure how to start? These two tools may help.
  • Addressing Lackluster Stewardship Campaigns ✓
    Webinars
    This web conference is designed to address how and why the stewardship efforts of so many congregations produce lackluster results. It will specifically examine the role of messaging and how tone and content can impact annual campaigns. Participants …
  • Creating a Culture of Giving ✓
    Vital Posts
    John Lennon promoted the use of the imagination as a way to change the way people thought about the world, their place in it, and what it might take to change the world. He invited us to dream and hope and invite others into imagining what life cou…
  • Spirituality of Fundraising ✓
    Vital Posts
    Can fundraising be good for your spiritual health? Henri Nouwen thinks so. Many of us have come to love Henri Nouwen – his books, wisdom, life story, and especially his ability to convey the depths of spiritual life and practice in a way that…
  • Pass the Plate. Or not. ✓
    Vital Posts
    Links Updated 01/02/2014 Update 01/26/2012  - Theresa Mathes, ECF Program Director for Capital Campaigns and Diocesan Solutions, came across the following chart of online services.  More and more churchgoers want to make their financial…
  • Good Stewardship Addresses Hopes and Fears ✓
    Vestry Papers
    Nothing sends people scurrying for the sexton’s closet faster than hearing the footsteps of the stewardship chairperson coming down the hall.
  • Vestry Planning Calendars ✓
    Your Turn
    Vestry planning calendars for managing operational aspects of the church efficiently, creating time for prayer, study and planning.
  • All Saints' Mad-lib Pledge Card ✓
    Your Turn
    A fun way to connect the missional objectives and activities of our congregation with our parishioners' intentions for annual giving.
  • Model Intentional Giving ✓
    Vestry Papers
    Interviews with ten Latino/Hispanic congregations reveal best practices of stewardship.
  • Lessons from an Annual Giving Campaign ✓
    Vestry Papers
    Trinity Cathedral in Cleveland Ohio realized that in the economic climate of 2009, their minimalist approach to stewardship was not going to work.
  • Give Him Your Heart
    Vital Posts
    The annual campaign is behind us. “Stewardship minutes” testifying to “reasons I give,” letters bravely asking people to consider tithing, bulletin reminders about pledge cards – gone. Even churches that try to avoid language of obligatio…
  • Change is Possible
    Vital Posts
    Call the papers. This is breaking news: An Episcopal church is ending a longtime tradition without gnashing of teeth or calling in a mediator. My church has held a spring card party since at least folks in my generation (and I’m in my 40s) we…
  • Take a Deep Breath and Make the Ask
    Vital Posts
    If you’ve never done it before, asking someone to contribute their money for a cause, however good, can seem scary or uncomfortable. As a philanthropy and fundraising professional, I’ve made numerous “asks” and written countless grant propo…
  • Donor-advised Funds What Leaders Should Know
    Webinars
    Why have Donor-advised Funds (DAF) become the fastest growing giving tool in the country? When is it appropriate to suggest one to a donor to your church or Episcopal organization? Learn the advantages, and the cautions, for this type of gift. Please…
  • What Needs To Go Out, So The New Can Come In?
    Vital Posts
    We’re investigating and working to install more energy- and, we hope, financially-efficient HVAC systems at St. George’s. The very comprehensive energy audit taught me a lot, and not just about insulation and ducts. I learned that the most effe…
  • Tree of Life Stewardship Campaign
    Vital Posts
    For years I have used Vestry Papers and TENS resources at my church (St. Mark’s Episcopal in Boonsboro, Maryland) sharing them with vestry members. This year we re-focused our stewardship letter and presentation; I am sharing our letter and Tree …
  • Tree of Life Stewardship Campaign
    Your Turn
    I am sharing our stewardshipletter and Tree of Life illustration with you to show what a smaller church can accomplish.
  • Fundraising and Fellowship
    Vital Posts
    Many of us have just completed the stewardship campaigns in our congregations and, as we are in my congregation, reviewing how close we came to having 100% of the pledge cards completed. More than likely there is a shortfall from pledges and we are…
  • Connectedness and Stewardship
    Vital Posts
    Something I quickly learned when I began working with Episcopal churches was that often, we do not think of ourselves as “nonprofits” or “charities.” While their exact words might vary, congregational leaders seem to ascribe to a vi…
  • The Constituency Model
    Tools
    The Constituency Model consists of concentric circles that represent levels of connection an organization’s constituents have to an organization. I have modified the model to fit the structure and life of the Episcopal Church. The model can serve a…
  • Radical Ideas
    Vital Posts
    It’s the time of year when, in many churches, lay people encourage us to participate generously in the annual giving campaign. As we listen to their “stewardship minutes,” our thoughts may wander from, “Where did I put that pledge card?” …
  • Five Ways to Teach Kids Financial Stewardship in the Digital Age
    Vital Posts
      A Grow Christians blog post by Nancy Hopkins-Green The other day, I was sitting at a table with a group of parishioners when a mother asked, “How do we teach and model stewardship with our kids in a digital age?” Speaking specifically…
  • October 2016 Editor’s Letter: Why Give?
    Vital Posts
    Why give? Why do people of faith give their time, talent, and treasure in service to God? This month, our Vestry Papers articles each offer a response to this question. Included are congregations rebounding after a painful split and the different a…
  • Building Our Trellis
    Vestry Papers
    In a vineyard, a trellis is essential to support and guide growth. Celeste Ventura’s “Building Our Trellis” invites us to explore our own financial trellis, and provides a framework for starting a conversation among members of your church.
  • Stewardship is a Way of Life
    Vestry Papers
    Stewardship has more to do with our heart than with money. “Stewardship is a Lifestyle” by Florida priest José Ortez shares six stewardship-related activities that have proven successful in his church.
  • Building a Legacy
    Vestry Papers
    Sometimes, the obstacle to creating an endowment is simply, “we don’t have the money.” In “Building a Legacy,” Demi Prentiss shares the story of how a smaller church, made smaller by a church split, found a way to build a legacy for future …
  • Being One with God
    Vestry Papers
    Their belief that “God is good! All the time!” helped sustain members of St. Stephen’s in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina after their diocesan leadership broke away from The Episcopal Church. “Being One with God” by Wilmot T. Merchant II…
  • Looking Back for Decisions Ahead
    Vital Posts
    Many of us know what it’s like to be new a decision making body such as a vestry. It can take a while to ‘get-up-to-speed’ with the organization, getting to that place where you feel you know enough about its history, ethos, and current chall…
  • Your Pledge Dollars at Work
    Vital Posts
    ...Or, going forth into the world to love and serve with joy. The letter was from Commonwealth Shakespeare Company. Another solicitation from an organization my husband and I support. I added it to his pile of mail. Then forgot about it. La…
  • Stewardship Beyond Obligation
    Vital Posts
    “Stewardship” is a topic about which I’ve heard and prayed throughout my Christian journey. Having grown up in the church, at first I became aware that “stewardship happens in the fall” so we have enough money to operate next year. Mom an…
  • Vital Practices Digest: 5 Stewardship Tools
    Vital Posts
    In the September Vital Practices Digest, we offer 5 resources you can easily incorporate into your fall stewardship campaign, with the 5th a resource to help establish year-round stewardship in your congregation. It’s easy and free to c…
  • The Basics of Annual Giving: Strategies that Work
    Webinars
    Looking for a magic bullet for your annual giving this year? A way to increase giving at your parish in 3 easy steps? This isn`t your webinar. Annual giving is a vital ministry at your parish and, like any ministry, successful strategies are often de…
  • September 2016 Editor’s Letter: Why Give?
    Vital Posts
    Labor Day is past; a new program year begins, often followed by the annual giving campaign. We invite you to set aside time to think about the ‘why’ of a person’s decision to give, perhaps starting with your own giving story and reflec…
  • Rethinking Clergy Education
    Vestry Papers
    What is good stewardship around educating our next generation of clergy? Gary Shilling invites us to consider changes in the way our church identifies, recruits, trains, and financially supports emerging clergy leaders.
  • Annual Giving & Elections
    Vestry Papers
    Presidential election years bring questions about their impact on charitable giving. In “Annual Giving & Elections” Erin Weber-Johnson shares the results of her research into this question and offers five recommendations – the first is remember…
  • Why We Give
    Vestry Papers
    Congregational leaders willing to try something different were the catalyst for a new approach to St. Paul’s 2015 annual giving campaign. Working with all church committees and groups, this team wove all of their blessings into a compelling narrati…
  • Organizational Milestones for the Vestry
    Your Turn
    Dust off the Parochial Report to create an impactful organizational timeline.
  • Vital Practices Digest: 5 Resources to Jumpstart Fundraising
    Vital Posts
    In the August Vital Practices Digest, we offer 5 resources to help jumpstart your fall annual giving efforts, with the 5th a resource to help in developing year-round stewardship in your congregation. It’s easy and free to connect with m…
  • Authority: How it Impacts Fundraising
    Vital Posts
    I`ve been thinking a lot about authority lately. With an upcoming presidential election and a new presiding bishop, I am growing aware of my own response to those in power. I wondered, how does the concept of Authority impact how we engage in fundr…
  • Dog Days Recruitment
    Vital Posts
    The ol’ Dog Star, Sirius, is now rising before the dawn, and the “dog days of summer” are upon us. Summer stops and pants. High heat and humidity drive us inside to fans and air conditioning. What to do, what to do…    I know! How about…
  • Fruit by Committee?
    Vital Posts
    We come to our churches with many gifts. One spirit supplies our gifts. Diverse as we are, we are one in this spirit. This is lovely, Biblical reality. So why do the fruits of our gifts sometimes seem a little sparse? In many congregations, the…
  • Fear Not the Capital Campaign
    Vital Posts
    Angels in the Bible often say, “Fear not!” as they are about to deliver some awesome news from God. In my role as a capital campaign consultant for the Episcopal Church Foundation, I also have found, “Do not be afraid,” is a needed preface …
  • Bottle Stall
    Vital Posts
    I’m always interested in unique and easy fundraisers. So I was drawn to the bottle stall at Church of the Ascension in Munich, Germany (Anglican/Episcopal). Various bottles filled a card table. Wine, of course. But also shampoo. Peanut butter…
  • Summer Sprucing
    Vital Posts
    Editor’s note: Years ago, I worked for the Girl Scouts. Each summer one day was dedicated to cleaning the old mansion that housed our offices. Mornings were spent clearing common and storage areas, afternoons, individual offices. For today’s su…
  • The Feasibility Study: More Than Simply Dollars and Cents
    Vital Posts
    One of the most oft-cited reasons for hiring a campaign consultant is the desire of a parish campaign team to test the feasibility of raising the dollars needed for the projects being proposed. It’s a great reason! The ECF model offers the answer…
  • Finding God’s Purpose for Your Capital Campaign
    Vital Posts
    Motivational speaker Simon Sinek stresses that WHAT we do, and HOW we do it, are LESS important than a clear understanding of WHY we do things. Here are two key reasons ‘why’ we do a capital campaign:  1. A capital campaign is a vehicle f…
  • Taking the Plunge
    Vital Posts
    “I’m not sure we can do this…” Often when I first visit a parish in my capacity as a capital campaign consultant I find that folks are hesitant about fully embracing a capital campaign. There is usually some fear about impact on their a…
  • Joyful Stewardship
    Vital Posts
    When I was a little girl, I suppose I knew that my Grandma Wright did not have much money. She lived in a tiny, two room apartment carved into the back of an old house. On overnight visits, I slept on a cot next to her bed. Together we would watch …
  • Growing a (Rule of) Life
    Vital Posts
  • Budgeting: What's Essential? Who Decides?
    Vital Posts
    It’s amazing how quickly the Cadillac SUV went to the wayside for a used Ford. The middle school students were given a paper with a job, average monthly salary, and number of children (including zero). They had to make their way around tables …
  • "Why Did You Give?"
    Vital Posts
    My friend and I finished a meal at a local pub. We looked up and our friendly waiter gave us two pieces of paper and asked if we would be willing to contribute to a local nonprofit. By contributing $5.00, we had the opportunity to write our name on…
  • Choosing a Planned Giving Shepherd for your Church
    Webinars
    Selecting the best person(s) to lead your planned giving efforts is an important step in building and sustaining your program. Please join us as we review qualities your congregation or Episcopal entity should be seeking in a volunteer for this vital…
  • Did I Hear A Sigh of Relief?
    Vital Posts
    Does this sound like a typical church check list? Conduct annual stewardship campaign Approve next year’s budget Celebrate Christmas Conduct Annual Meeting; explain what happened with stewardship and the budget …
  • Why I Give
    Vital Posts
    Editor’s note: Do members of your church have an opportunity to offer public testimony of what their faith – and their church – mean to them? Many associate this with appeals for participation in annual, capital, or other campaigns. Today ECF…
  • Faithful Giving: What Does this Mean?
    Vital Posts
    A friend recently told me about a congregation in St. Mary’s County, Maryland – the community I also serve – whose Sunday morning collection is incredibly large, incredible, she reported, given the size and location and make-up of the congreg…
  • In Good Faith: Seeing the Big Picture
    Vital Posts
    When I was a kid my parents often dragged me and my brother to museums. It wasn’t just that they were trying to ram some culture down our throats; they were genuinely inspired by art and wanted to share that passion with their children. Much of w…
  • October 2015 Editor’s Letter: Rethinking Stewardship
    Vital Posts
    October 2015 Editor’s Letter: Rethinking Stewardship What can we learn from the experiences of others? This issue of Vestry Papers features articles that share ways three congregations are overcoming challenges related to annual …
  • Campaign of Generosity
    Vestry Papers
    In “Campaign of Generosity” Victor Conrado talks about what has worked and what hasn’t in his bilingual and multiethnic church’s quest to have a relationship with God and share their time, talent, and treasure as they give generously.
  • Antidote to Anxiety (About Raising $)
    Vestry Papers
    Doubts about a congregations ability to raise money can be the ‘elephant in the room’ threatening to undermine a campaign’s best efforts. In “Antidote to Anxiety (About Raising $),” Leslie Pendleton names some of these fears and offers a st…
  • The 2% Campaign
    Vestry Papers
    In “The 2% Campaign,” Carla Roland-Guzmán shares great examples of the differences between almsgiving, offerings, and tithes. She gives practical advice on how to start giving 2% and continue toward 10% when we understand the basis of our giving…
  • Raising Disciples, Generous Givers
    Vestry Papers
    The leadership at St. George’s Episcopal Church in Valley Lee, Maryland recognize that changing from ‘the way we’ve always done this’ to a new approach takes time. In “Raising Disciples, Generous Givers,” Greg Syler, continues the story h…
  • Blessings and Struggles of Scrappy Church Ministry
    Webinars
    Do you find yourself serving a congregation that in the face of great adversity still holds an incorruptible spirit of resilience and determination? If so, welcome to the club because you are serving a “Scrappy Church”.
  • Holy Trinity, Holy Smoke! Part 3
    Vital Posts
    This is the last of a 3-part series about the relationship ministry of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in South Bend, Indiana. Read part 1 and part 2. Holy Trinity in South Bend, Indiana, is a church with a passion for processionals with “smel…
  • September 2015 Editor’s Letter: Rethinking Stewardship
    Vital Posts
    It’s September. The program year is kicking off, soon followed by annual campaigns, budgeting, and diocesan convocations or conventions. It’s a busy time and I’m about to suggest adding something else to this mix: Plan time this program year …
  • Stewardship: More than an Annual Campaign
    Vestry Papers
    Nancy Davidge and Susan Elliott share approaches and strategies for developing a congregational culture built on the belief that God will use the gifts of the people to do “more than all we can ask or imagine.”
  • Ways to Live in Abundance
    Vestry Papers
    Alejandro and Laura Montes share their experiences, challenges, and advice on how to evangelize as Christ does and have a vibrant and growing ministry by living a life of surrender, love, forgiveness, and example.
  • From Scarcity to Generosity
    Vestry Papers
    Mary MacGregor offers recommendations to help congregations move toward a culture of generosity.
  • Stewardship: Gratitude or Obligation?
    Vestry Papers
    Mark Beckwith notes that while The Episcopal Church, dioceses, and congregations often state “stewardship is the main work of the church,” in practice, stewardship is often sidelined. He also challenges all of us to make time this fall to provide…
  • Keep on Singing
    Vital Posts
    How can I keep from singing? Singing is my very favorite part of church. I’m sure that my favorite is actually supposed to be Eucharist, and I do like that too...but I love to sing. I’m not a great singer. I have a decent voice, and can hol…
  • Stress and How We Retain Information
    Vital Posts
    I was at a parish that had devoted a great deal of time on communications related to a capital campaign. They sent out letters and emails. Announcements were given and small groups met to discuss the plans. Multiple bulletin boards displayed archit…
  • Receiving and Giving and Receiving Again
    Vital Posts
    When one learns about the tremendous outreach ministries of Trinity Episcopal Church in Logansport, Indiana, a natural question might be, “How do they afford it?” As it turns out, many years ago, the church invested a large estate gift at the C…
  • The Challenge in Recruiting - and Retaining - Volunteers
    Vital Posts
    I was at a parish recently for an all day workshop. The parish leaders were struggling to recruit new volunteers and keep the volunteers they had from burning out. One parishioner made this key observation, “It’s frustrating for our workers…
  • Take a Chance: This is Opportunity Time!
    Vital Posts
    Sometimes the Holy Spirit can be inconvenient. There we are going about our lives when, bam! Something happens. I easily produce list after list of the rotten stuff, but that's not for this venue. Besides, often the rotten stuff turns out to be the…
  • Living His Faith: CEO Models Wage Parity
    Vital Posts
    “The more you have, sometimes the more complicated your life gets."   - Dan Price On April 13, 2014, 30-year-old CEO Dan Price of Gravity Payments made a startling announcement  to his 120-person staff. Over the next three years, Price intend…
  • “What is God Calling Us to Do?”
    Vital Posts
    A few days ago I was reminded that if you want to know what God is calling you to do---its important to actually spend some time together. This reminder triggered a profound moment in my experiences as a consultant. About a year ago, a parish…
  • 3 Blogs on Stewardship #2 Just What Exactly Are We Funding?
    Vital Posts
    As I mentioned in my last post, Southside Abbey's funding is up. More accurately, my funding is up with the Episcopal Diocese of East Tennessee in August. It has really been on my mind of late that I am confusing these two issues. Nothing about the…
  • “Crossing from Debt to Mission”
    Vital Posts
    St. Aidan's Episcopal Church recently completed a capital campaign for debt retirement. Pastor Anna Doherty describes some of the key lessons the community learned from their experience: We chose the theme "Crossing from Debt to Mission" beca…
  • Is Gift-Based Ministry Part Of The Problem?
    Vital Posts
    ECF Vital Practices recently reposted on its Facebook page a list of signs of healthy church. It was a fine list for the most part, and like most such lists, it emphasized empowering people to identify and use their spiritual gifts and talents. …
  • 3 Blogs on Stewardship: #1 Year 'Round Stewardship
    Vital Posts
    I have to be honest, I agonized about the apostrophe in the title of this post for much longer than I should have. I share this with you to show just how much I still have to learn about stewardship (particularly stewardship of time). Take this pos…
  • At the Dinner Table: Stories of Giving
    Vital Posts
    Last night my family was invited over to our friends’ house for supper. With kids similar in age, this meant we had four kids at or under 6 years of age. It was fun and boisterous. In the midst of our roasted chicken, laughter, and interrupted conv…
  • Ears to Hear
    Vital Posts
    Celebrate. Listen. Be inspired. Plan. Then Jesus said, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” Mark 4: 9 We all know Jesus told stories to help people understand deep truths about God, His nature, and His grace and love. Stories ar…
  • A Tale of Two Parishes: Lessons Learned From The Field
    Vital Posts
    Cinda Lavely, financial resource consultant, tells a story of working with two parishes at the same time and some lessons she learned along the way: “Working with two churches at the same time to help them find their way to a new form of an…
  • A New Opportunity: Accept? Or Pass?
    Vital Posts
    How do Episcopal organizations know what opportunities to take and what to leave behind? Recently, a friend of mine was offered a big job opportunity. With it came a higher salary, regular hours in the office, and a chance to do some impactful …
  • Gifts: Thank You But????
    Vital Posts
    What do you do when a gift received may not be the right fit? With Christmas comes an ethos of increased giving in our country. Hearts are opened wide and the spirit of giving is encouraged. Yet, how many of us have opened a present to find tha…
  • Resilient Communities
    Vital Posts
    On November 8, 2013, the strongest tropical cyclone ever recorded hit the central islands of the Philippines. The islands of Leyte and Samar were hit the hardest, with more than 6,000 dead and 1,000 missing. Southern cities like Tacloban and Suriga…
  • Hamburger
    Vital Posts
    The gift came in a reused grocery bag. “We don’t have a lot of extra money this year,” she said, smiling weakly. I met her a couple of years ago. She works in the service industry, and I come every six weeks or so for my regular a…
  • The Kingdom of Heaven is Closer than You Think
    Vital Posts
    “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will fulfill the good promise I made to the people of Israel and Judah.” Jeremiah 33: 14 (NIV) In Advent we are taken back to the days when all in Israel were waiting for the Messiah. Ou…
  • Listening Campaign
    Vital Posts
    It may seem odd to think about listening as a way to engage more people in the life of your congregation. We are used to teaching, preaching, singing, worshiping, setting up web sites, posting on Facebook, tweeting, for heaven’s sake. But listeni…
  • “Hello!” Taking the Mountain to Mohammed
    Vital Posts
    A fundraising parody of the play, Book of Mormon Chicago's St. James Cathedral faced this fall’s annual giving campaign with an added component. In addition to asking for pledges to fund their core ministries, the cathedral paired their annual…
  • 'Tis the Season

    Vital Posts
    No. I don't mean Christmas, though area big box stores have been anticipating for a while now. As little Bobby's fingers are still stained with chocolate from his Halloween haul, out goes the Christmas candy, decorations, and general noelia. …
  • A Second Collection
    Vital Posts
    File this under “Borrowed from Another Church” or “How a Decentralized Budget Works.” I’m talking about how we raise awareness and investment for outreach at St. George’s, Valley Lee – what we call the Second Collection. It’s re…
  • Ten-Minute Fundraiser
    Vital Posts
    Okay, so I might be underestimating a tad, but here’s an idea for a quick-and-easy fundraiser. Think about upcoming church-wide events. Hymn sing? Thanksgiving gathering? Wreath making? You want an event that will attract a significant prop…
  • Millennials: Our Next Greatest Wave of Givers?
    Vital Posts
    Last night my best friend and I finished reading “The Fault in our Stars.” This instant classic was recently made into a box office hit as younger people, millennials, enjoyed its rich vocabulary, tender but teenage angst filled romance, and it…
  • Why I Give
    Vital Posts
    As far as church-elevator talks go, this one is a doozy.    Sure, it's definitely hard to talk about faith, about my personal relationship with Christ. But money and how I give (or don't give)? We're on thin ice.    The sarcasm is thin vene…
  • Transformation: Part of the Process
    Vital Posts
    At the beginning of a campaign process I often hear, “If we could just raise this amount of money, we could get to doing real ministry. Imagine the transformation!” During the capital campaign or special appeal, volunteers often reshape t…
  • Stone Soup
    Vestry Papers
    Using this familiar folktale, Grace Church shares how declining resources can be a gift as well as a challenge in forming a vision.
  • An Experiment: Year Round Stewardship
    Vestry Papers
    St. Nicholas' has been trying an experiment to implement year-round stewardship. Ken Howard shares the process they went through and the resources they developed.
  • Lessons from Fundraising Volunteers
    Vestry Papers
    Fundraising is so much more than the accomplishment of a monetary goal, here are 5 of the top lessons from working with volunteers throughout the Church.
  • God’s Economy
    Vestry Papers
    Stewardship is an opportunity to deepen our relationships with God. Thinking about how we live in two economies can make conversations in stewardship season easier and more fun.
  • October 2014 Editor’s Letter: Sharing Our Gifts
    Vital Posts
    Fall is a time of abundance, with evidence of nature’s generosity everywhere, particularly my native New England. Our gardens and trees are alive with vibrant red, orange, and yellow hues. Pumpkins, apples, and the other colorful fall fruits and …
  • Raising Generous Givers
    Vital Posts
    “Figure out why people give and give people more reasons to give and you will, in time, grow more generous givers.” That’s at least what I remember hearing, some years back, when I went along with my other fellow curates in the Diocese of Chi…
  • And Forgive Us Our Debts...
    Vital Posts
    How do parish’s talk about debt --- when many parishioners are crushed by debt? We began this three part series on debt retirement talking about the impact of debt on the mission and ministry of a parish. A reminder that the current rule of…
  • A Debt Campaign is Never About---Debt!
    Vital Posts
    Part 2 of a series on debt retirement. In my last blog, I wrote about important questions to ask when considering the impact of debt on your operating budget. The current rule of thumb is that debt services should comprise no more than about 25% o…
  • September 2014 Editor's Letter: Sharing Our Gifts
    Vital Posts
    When you think about stewardship, do you associate it with giving or with sharing? To me, giving suggests a transaction, a handing off, while sharing implies relationship, a connection. God invites us into relationship – with God and with eac…
  • Do Not Give Money to God!
    Vestry Papers
    Why give money to God? What is God going to do with it? God doesn't have a bank account, a savings account, or a 401k. God doesn't have a mortgage to pay, kids in college, or elderly parents to care for. So do not give your money to God.
  • From Outreach to Relationship
    Vestry Papers
    Anyone can be spread too thin. Even a congregation. For many years, our outreach efforts at Christ Church Cranbrook (CCC) were very widespread.
  • Become What You Receive
    Vestry Papers
    “…What you see is simply bread and a cup. But your faith demands far subtler insight: the bread is Christ's body, the cup is Christ's blood. My friends, these realities are called sacraments because in them one thing is seen, while another is gra…
  • Attitude of Gratitude
    Vestry Papers
    As we grow beyond the narrow understanding of stewardship as an annual fundraising exercise – or as the late Terry Parsons (http://www.tens.org/resources/blog/remembering-terry-parsons/) used to call it, the “annual beg-a-thon” – God begins t…
  • Tools to Transform Money into Ministry
    Your Turn
    Instead of focusing on giving in your annual campaign, why not focus on doing: Invite people to fund God's work instead of asking for gifts to God.
  • The Other Way to Renovate
    Vital Posts
    Like every other church, St. George’s deals with deferred maintenance on our buildings and grounds. We try to keep up with as many projects as we can, but our forebears gave us a lot of stuff and, today, the funds and the personnel are limited. B…
  • Is Debt Limiting Mission?
    Vital Posts
  • Let's Talk Stewardship
    Vital Posts
    Ideas to get your stewardship campaign off the ground.  The approach of fall brings the start of a new program year – and the start of what is often called ‘stewardship season.’ Many times, we start our planning process by looking at what …
  • Making the Intangible….Tangible
    Vital Posts
    Often when I hold annual giving workshops, I hear how hard it is for people to give to an operating budget. Even when operations is described as “ministry,” it still can seem much more intangible then making a Kiva loan to a woman for a new micro…
  • Starting Planned Giving from Scratch
    Tools
    Is there a sure-fire way to set up a planned giving effort from scratch in a congregation? While there's no magic bullet, Jim Murphy, ECF's managing program director for financial resources, recommends these basic steps.
  • Are You Leading A Zombie Parish?
    Your Turn
    Leadership teams are invited to take this ten-item quiz to discover whether your church is undead.
  • Do the Job Descriptions Match the Job?
    Vital Posts
    Summer officially began on Saturday, and your church will probably be a quieter place as programs take a summer break and people leave on vacation. This may be a good time to look at workflow and job descriptions for your church’s staff. I’ve …
  • Making Space to Share Our Stories
    Vital Posts
    What’s holding us back from sharing our faith stories? As editor of ECF Vital Practices, I think about this a lot. I have the privilege of hearing – and sharing - amazing stories of how faith communities are responding to God’s call throu…
  • Community Engagement: A Little Church that Could
    Vital Posts
    Good Shepherd Episcopal church is a little church in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, the northern most suburb of Madison, Wisconsin. Its average weekly attendance is around 125.  The 1st weekend of May this year marked a significant turning point for th…
  • Volunteers: The Value of Why
    Vital Posts
    “What does Justin Timberlake have to do with the landscape of volunteerism? “It’s like you’re my mirror—my mirror staring back at me.” I recently read an entertaining article written by nonprofit hub, "The Love Song Between Nonp…
  • On Being a Stickler (or Not)
    Vital Posts
    Early on in my first job as an office manager, I was pretty easy going. It was a small nonprofit and everyone was busy, so if a coworker needed some help getting his or her timesheets together or forgot to get a receipt, I was not a stickler. I’d…
  • Recruiting Fundraising Volunteers
    Vital Posts
    Summer is the perfect time to recruit volunteers. Fewer committee meetings mean more time for the one-on-one visits so important to matching the right person to the job. Yet, recruiting volunteers for fundraising is more than simply filling a s…
  • May 2014 Editor's Letter
    Vital Posts
    Thank you.  While this may seem an odd way to start an editor’s letter, I’m eager to show my appreciation for all of the ECF Vital Practices and Vestry Papers bloggers and contributors, Facebook and Twitter followers, readers and subscriber…
  • Sharing Personnel Costs: A Multiparish Council
    Vital Posts
    The congregation I serve has been working for a long time on developing collaborative relationships with other, local Episcopal churches in our community. I genuinely experience God calling me – and, frankly, the Episcopal Church and so many othe…
  • What if Everyone Practiced Gratitude Year Round?
    Vital Posts
    “What if everyone in the world started to do this?” Often when I suggest moving to a year round stewardship campaign, people express anxiety about talking about money year round.  I like to suggest that saying thank you in a variety of…
  • Electronic Giving Card: For Offering Plate
    Your Turn
    If parishioners give electronically, how will their offerings get blessed? "I give electronically" cards may be the answer.
  • Promises, Promises
    Vital Posts
    I’ve put in my order for killer mac-n-cheese. The dolby torte and Coronation chicken. It’s going to be a foodie weekend—and all without breaking a sweat. I’m cashing in my “promises” from the church’s promise tree. Each year at…
  • Wine and Design
    Vital Posts
    How can a congregation reclaim a sense of activism in the face of worry? Cinda Lavely, ECF Financial Resources consultant, works with parishes wrestling with discernment. She writes: “What can we do?” I hear this all the time, and with…
  • Measuring An ‘Open Contribution’ Giving Campaign
    Vital Posts
  • Recruiting Ambassadors for Giving
    Vital Posts
    Recruiting volunteers for fundraising can be a community-altering task. Sue Fornabai, Episcopal Church Foundation (ECF) financial resources consultant, tells the following story of gathering parishioners to be ambassadors for annual giving: A s…
  • Church Leadership Conference: ECF Presentations
    Tools
    ECF offered a number of workshops the 2014 Church Leadership Conference: Unlocking the New Church. Copies of some of the presentations are offered below.
  • Climate Risk and Communion
    Vital Posts
    Note: The application deadline for ECF's Fellowship Partners Program is March 14, 2014.  In his 2013 application to the Fellowship Partners Program, P. Joshua Griffin (Griff) noted that “Even within the Episcopal Church, environmental risks an…
  • Financing Mission
    Vital Posts
    “What’s St. George’s mission statement?” a member of our finance committee asked me. My answer was straightforward, though I think it took him back: “We don’t have one.” This committee member, you see, was drafting an endowm…
  • Culture and How We Give
    Vital Posts
    I once was asked to do an annual giving workshop at a parish which housed both an Anglo congregation and a Hispanic congregation. Viewed as two separate entities, there was concern about the lack of pledges submitted by those who attended the service…
  • The Community as Pastor
    Vital Posts
    Pastoral care is a basic expectation of clergy and probably high on the list of any given parishioner’s understanding of what they get in return for their participation. I know that church isn’t a give-and-take but our current base of support i…
  • Grace and Gratitude Ministry
    Vital Posts
    “Stewardship.” A very routine committee. Predictable. Just mentioning it conjures up the same old messages confined to the same old time of year. Episcopal Church Foundation (ECF) Capital Campaign Consultant Linda Buskirk tells the story of…
  • Giving Out of Abundance
    Vital Posts
    This year my four old son decided to give my husband, his young brother, and I Christmas gifts. He announced this prior to our daily naptime a week ago. Upon hearing, I confess that I gave him scissors, tape, and some wrapping paper thinking that it …
  • Involving Youth in Giving
    Vital Posts
    There’s an adage that says “If you ask a person for a dollar you`ll get their opinion. If you ask a person for their opinion, you`ll get an opportunity for a contribution.” When thinking about youth involvement for giving, ECF Capital Cam…
  • Telling Your Story...
    Vital Posts
    Telling your story, enlarging your potential audience, and making new friends: a lesson from the Sisters of the Community of the Holy Spirit. Rebecca Earl, ECF Capital Campaign Consultant, tells of how an order learned how to tell their story m…
  • Rethinking the Pledge, Part 2: A New Way
    Vital Posts
    Second in a two-part series. Read part 1 here. These next few months are an opportunity for the Christian church to start talking in real terms about real life. It takes courage, in this case, to talk about money. Naming in real terms what amou…
  • Stewardship, Tithing, Giving, Annual Pledge
    Your Turn
    Some helpful definitions and challenging questions related to stewardship, tithing, giving, and annual pledge.
  • Stewardship: A Broken Model?
    Vital Posts
    “A common misperception is that new members are needed to increase income to the operating budget. This assumes that new members will and are able to give.” Working with congregations, I’m aware of an emerging theme: the current financial…
  • Rethinking The Pledge, Part 1: It's Not Stewardship
    Vital Posts
    First in a two-part series. Read part 2 here. Around this time of year, vestries and stewardship committees, rectors and wardens, finance committees, and those few parishioners who’ve served on any of the above working groups have a big thing…
  • Generational Characteristics of Giving: What to do?
    Vital Posts
    Have you ever attended a really informational event and then came away saying, “That was great and now what?!” This recently happened to me. I was listening to a person speak eloquently about a topic. He ended with great fanfare. I had tears in…
  • Our “Money Life”
    Your Turn
    How does my money life influence how I live out my Baptismal Covenant?
  • Crazy Wisdom
    Vestry Papers
    Dan Edwards shares stories, from biblical times to the present, of people who have walked in faith, giving away what they have and finding that they still have enough.
  • God Had a Hand in This
    Vestry Papers
    Luke Blount shares the story of strangers brought together by a shared vision.
  • Honest Sharing
    Vestry Papers
    For many people, talking about money is difficult – even with family. In “Honest Sharing” Angela Emerson offers a glimpse into the private struggle many of us experience as we wrestle with our feelings related to giving, not only of our treasu…
  • Squash Tithe
    Vestry Papers
    Our lives are often touched by simple acts of kindness. "Squash Tithe” by Nancy Moore shares how the gift of a summer squash from one parishioner to another in 2012, lives on in an unexpected way.
  • Squash Tithe (Resources)
    Your Turn
    How do member of your congregation experience the joy of sharing the abundance given to them by God?
  • Vulnerability
    Vital Posts
    Vulnerability is the birthplace of joy, love, belonging, courage, and faith. It becomes very problematic when as a culture; we lose our capacity for vulnerability. We live in a culture that tells us that we are not enough. We are not good enough…
  • Giving Thanks for New Stewardship Realities
    Vital Posts
    Our parish demographics were changing, as were economic conditions, and our annual giving team realized that our stewardship campaign needed to change with them. In years past, our ‘one size fits all’ approach worked for a homogenous, churched …
  • Editor's Letter: September 2013
    Vital Posts
    September brings a different sort of energy, a different sense of time. There’s a renewed sense of urgency – the ‘lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer’ are behind us, replaced by a desire to get organized, to get on with things. For many of…
  • Liberating Stewardship
    Vestry Papers
    The Christian vocation of proclaiming and responding to God’s prodigious generosity is a year-round calling.
  • Doing More with Less
    Vestry Papers
    The dynamics of passing the “leftover” around generating a spirit of appreciation and affirmation did so much more than fighting over the last piece of meat, as a fear-of-scarcity-minded group would do.
  • Spiritual Vitality
    Vestry Papers
    If spiritual vitality of a congregation were measured, where along a continuum would the members in your church be?
  • Wholehearted Stewardship
    Vestry Papers
    Your annual giving campaign can be an opportunity for growth and excitement. What have you done that has reached out to different generations in your parish?
  • Abundance Stewardship - St. Luke's Style
    Your Turn
    At St. Luke's, Stephenville, Texas, formation in good stewardship is so deep and complete that they no longer conduct an annual fund campaign. This leaflet summarizes their culture of stewardship.
  • Backpacks and Baptism
    Vital Posts
      I don’t know how to say this without sounding selfish. I know we’re shopping for donation and I know that my backpack is in good shape and I don’t need a new one. But I can’t help it—that tie-dye backpack is awesome. And thus it …
  • Hiatus
    Vital Posts
    I can’t put it off any longer. It’s Saturday night. I have to face this week’s readings. I’ve put off writing for so long because I really enjoyed my hiatus, my month away from my desk, my month of getting out of my head and into Martha…
  • Fine China and Lace Ladies
    Vital Posts
    In 41 years, the only time my husband has ever seen his mother’s fine china out of the cabinet is when they moved and it was boxed up. He has never seen it used. When we moved this last time, I set my lace ladies on the top of the piano. Th…
  • Why?
    Vital Posts
    “Instead of asking how to keep going, change the question to why.” During the Discernment Phase for a capital campaign, we seek to ask what God is calling a parish to do. This often comes in the collective wisdom of a parish community. Meani…
  • Talking About Money
    Vital Posts
    Let's talk about money. Now that we’re in June, half-way through the year, how do your finances look? Is everything is on track for ending the year in sound fiscal condition? Summer may be a good time for your vestry to take stock, perhap…
  • The Scale of Stewardship
    Vital Posts
    Much of my work over the past five years has been to help train diocesan stewardship commissions to serve as stewardship mentors for congregations in their respective diocese. I recall with fondness a two-day retreat that I led in 2010 with the Stewa…
  • Word Gets Around
    Vital Posts
    This week’s readings present two very similar scenes—Jesus comes upon a burial procession. The deceased is the only son of a widow, leaving her among the most vulnerable in her society. Like Elijah, Jesus calls upon God to revive the son, and r…
  • Radical Budgeting
    Vital Posts
    The parish was ahead of its time. In 2002, it was well on the way to making LGBT-inclusive, multicultural, bilingual urban church a reality. At the same time, it was already facing realities still a few years down the road for parishes in more afflue…
  • Listening: A Lesson in Fundraising
    Vital Posts
    There was a parish that wanted to redo their existing kitchen for the purpose of hospitality during coffee hour. Identified as a potential lead gift was a gentleman who many in that community would lovingly call a “curmudgeon.”  I`m sure you…
  • Coffee Money: An Extraordinary Gift
    Vital Posts
    “I role dice with my buddies.”  I once worked with a parish outside of Philadelphia. Many in that parish’s community were on restricted incomes. Yet, that January, the roof quite literally fell in and a capital campaign became a must. …
  • Personal Stewardship
    Vital Posts
    I didn’t blow out the candles. This weekend was a double whammy: my birthday on Saturday and Mother’s Day on Sunday. That’s a lot of pressure on a husband and kids. I said I didn’t want a big present. We’re going on a camping …
  • More Fun Fundraising
    Vital Posts
    It’s spring, and the birds are singing, the flowers blooming and my wallet’s being laid open. May always sneaks up on us as one of the most expensive times of year. We prepare for the beginning of school shopping and save for Christmas. But wi…
  • Strengthen Your Core
    Vital Posts
    Sorry. This blog post isn’t about the latest exercise plan for defined abs. Instead, it’s about some very good fundraising advice I heard a few weeks ago while serving on the advisory board for the Episcopal Service Corps’ New York Intern Pro…
  • Customer Service
    Vital Posts
    I haven’t thought much about customer service since I was making book – and beer – money in college at the local deli. Sure, in my career, it’s been important to treat people well. But I hadn’t thought about it as customer service, …
  • Tis the Season
    Vital Posts
    Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”          Mark 12:17a Well, that’s a cut and dry statement! Very black and white. Does it have to be? I’m not so sure. Let…
  • I Miss Vestry Meetings
    Vestry Papers
    In “I Really Miss Vestry Meetings,” Henry Parsley, retired bishop of Alabama states “vestries should be one of the most exciting ministries in the church – joyful, in fact” and then shares the key components that he, after working with vest…
  • Making Sacred Space
    Vital Posts
    I spent a few hours cleaning my apartment this weekend. There’s something satisfying about caring for your own space, and something almost soul-feeding about the work, about moving a broom across the floor or doing dishes. As I’ve mentioned…
  • From Season of Abundance to Season of Expectation
    Vital Posts
    This picture shows the final product of my church’s autumn-long effort to create a glass mosaic representing our fall theme of Bountiful Abundance. Over 100 people laid tiles and we completed the piece in one long-day and a half-day follow up. Li…
  • Bring Me a Morsel
    Vital Posts
    I love it when familiar readings say something completely new to me. That’s what happened earlier this week, when I browsed the lectionary to see what sort of message might jump out at me as the season of annual financial commitment is moving…
  • Making the Impossible…Possible
    Vital Posts
    "A couple of months ago I was asked to speak to the children at Voice of Hope Ministries in West Dallas about mosquito nets, with the possibility that the children could make their own contributions toward purchasing mosquito nets in sub-Saharan Af…
  • Blessed to be a Blessing
    Vital Posts
    Before going to seminary, I had the privilege of working for CARE, the international relief and development organization. This is the organization that created the original CARE Package that Americans sent to Europe and Asia after World War II. My …
  • Generosity: A Latina Perspective
    Vestry Papers
    Latin Americans in the United States generously donate money, leadership, and talent to the Church. It’s important for them to see their resources being used prudently and to know that they’re truly contributing to the welfare of their church com…
  • Blessed to be a Blessing
    Tools
    The "Blessed to Be a Blessing" stewardship reflection series is designed to complement and support congregations during their annual giving campaigns
  • Stewardship Presence-Making: A Parable
    Vestry Papers
    Stewardship campaign chairpersons may perceive themselves as congregational “nagger” or “scolder.” Might we suggest a self-perception of “coach” or “cheerleader?”
  • No More Pledge Cards – Please!
    Vestry Papers
    In being good stewards, we advocate giving of our time, talent, and treasure continuously throughout the year. Are pledge cards distracting us from our efforts to practice good stewardship? What alternatives might we use instead of making a financi…
  • Brick by Brick
    Vestry Papers
    How do you get people to say yes? First you say yes.
  • Annual Campaign Timeline
    Tools
    This timeline for stewardship campaigns shows how to structure year-round planning in order to increase the success of a parish's annual pledge drive.
  • "Bien Codo" Means Stingy
    Vital Posts
    With a name like Miguel Ángel Castilleja Escobar, it should come as no surprise that I occasionally field questions about where I’m from. “Texas” is my immediate response, although I know that isn’t exactly what the person asking me is dri…
  • Legacy and Generosity
    Vestry Papers
    That idea of legacy as the way we live, not simply the things we leave, is fundamental to our Christian understanding of generosity. What are the practices you are living forward and what do you understand about practice, generosity and legacy by loo…
  • Recipe for Spiritual Growth
    Vestry Papers
    The congregation at St. Aidan's Episcopal Church in Olathe, Kansas, understands stewardship to be both holistic and organic. They've built their stewardship plan around what they see as a recipe for spiritual growth....
  • Reframing Stewardship
    Vestry Papers
    Stewardship is about life, the whole of life. It’s living the life of God, in fact – living more generously, more boldly, and more faithfully. Stewardship is everything. This is why we don’t have a stewardship drive at St. George’s in Vall…
  • Narrative Budget Template
    Your Turn
    Have you thought about building your congregation's budget around your mission story? Here's a template to help you get started.
  • Cosi, Cosi, Iyaphela
    Vestry Papers
    In the European tradition, we say, “the end” as if the story has no life outside of that moment. Cinderella and Prince Charming live happily ever after. The end. There’s nothing more to say. But in African storytelling, we say, “Cosi, Cosi …
  • Sample Stewardship Letters
    Your Turn
    When St. Aidan's adopted the metaphor of nourishing bread as a central focus of their stewardship plan, they created two new letters and a ministry card as part of their campaign.
  • There's a Place for you at the Table
    Your Turn
    St. Aidan's Episcopal Church in Olathe, Kansas utilizes a "Recipe for Spiritual Growth" to guide their ministries. This booklet describes these ministries.
  • One Cup at a Time...
    Vital Posts
    “I used a paper cup yesterday,” my coworker told me guiltily. I couldn’t’ judge her. I use paper cups often to get coffee from the parish hall in the church where I work or when I order coffee from the coffee shop. But that day, I used the …
  • Faithful Budgets, Stronger Stewardship
    Vital Posts
    As stewardship season in the Episcopal Church draws near, we decided to explore the groundwork for a successful stewardship campaign. The following series of articles explores a whole range of topics, including the connection between a transparent …
  • Sweet 16
    Vital Posts
    It was Daisy’s Sweet 16 party and the guest of honor was nowhere to be seen. “She’s in the bedroom, under the bed,” said Jackie, “ and she won’t come out…” The patio was decorated with pink and purple Sweet 16 napkins, balloons,…
  • Getting Started on the Genesis Covenant
    Tools
    The Genesis Covenant challenges faith institutions to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions of their facilities by 50% in ten years. The Getting Started Guide will help parishes take action on this important goal.
  • Show Me!
    Vital Posts
  • Caretaking
    Vital Posts
    Today the house inspector comes. If all goes well, we’re on the path to be first-time homeowners. After fifteen years in a rental apartment in New York City, two years as “resident companions” with a monastic community, and one year living as…
  • Noises Off
    Vital Posts
    One of my favorite stage devices is the unseen character, the person who has a significant role in plot and play but is never seen by the audience. Today I am thinking about the householder in the parable of the talents. Without him, there is no…
  • The Hunger Games
    Vital Posts
    The highly anticipated movie The Hunger Games opens this Friday in theaters across the nation. Based on a series of young adult novels by the same name, this movie reflects on scarcity, individualism, and an ethos of distrust. In this blog post from …
  • Aspects of Offering
    Vital Posts
    In their book Celebrating the Offering, brothers and Methodist ministers Melvin and James Amerson assert that offerings of prayer, presence, gifts, and service are all required to be good stewards. This must have been in the back of my mind whe…
  • Birds of the air, lilies of the field
    Vital Posts
    In yesterday’s blog post on ECF Vital Practices, Richelle Thompson shared an effective practice for starting a meeting. She described how one facilitator asked each person to share their favorite story from scripture. This simple practice turned ou…
  • Love is a Verb: Faith & Action Year Round Stewardship Ads
    Vital Posts
    I’m not sure who coined the term love is a verb. But it seems to me it offers one of the most succinct summations of the Gospel. I remember quite vividly sitting in my ethics class in seminary and my professor The Rev. Dr. John Kater lectured on …
  • Beyond Three T’s
    Vital Posts
    Over the holidays I read the book Reclaiming the Great Commission by Bishop Claude Payne and Hamilton Beasley. The book describes a transformational model that Bishop Payne, clergy, and lay leaders developed and introduced during his episcopacy wit…
  • How to Prepare for a Capital Campaign
    Tools
    A capital campaign is an opportunity to identify new leaders and create opportunities for mission and service.
  • Our Experience with a Green Focused Renovation
    Your Turn
    St John's Episcopal Church, Naples Fl is a forty year old property that is going through a restoration of its facilities and the creation of a magnificent rain garden
  • Ouch. And thank you.
    Vital Posts
    The dreaded letter finally arrived last Wednesday. It was a letter from my parish politely noting that my partner and I had only paid half of our 2011 pledge. After reading it, I handed the letter to my better half, winced at the thought of the amoun…
  • 'Tis the Season
    Vital Posts
    The letters and phone calls just keep coming in. I received five donation requests yesterday: four fundraising letters and one awkward phone call with a college-age volunteer. The majority of these are from organizations I currently donate to, hav…
  • Dream Budget
    Vital Posts
    Our finance committee held its first meeting this week to build the 2012 budget. For the third year in a row I have encouraged staff and ministry leaders to submit “dream budgets” that will let the vestry know what directions they would pursue …
  • Gratitude & The Pursuit of Happiness
    Vital Posts
  • Something to Talk About
    Vital Posts
    Following on yesterday’s posting about tithing and proportional giving, I would like to talk more specifically about the “modern tithe.” In some traditions, the expectation is that members of the congregation will give 10% of their net inc…
  • Simple Giving
    Vital Posts
    Last Saturday, during a stewardship workshop session on tithing, I made the remark that I have tithed since the age of three. How is that even possible? How much money does a three year old have? Well, this three year old had 25 cents a week, $…
  • Editor's Letter on Innovative Stewardship
    Vital Posts
    Across the Episcopal Church, congregations, dioceses, agencies, and individuals are engaged in asset based community development (ABCD) a growing movement that considers local assets as the primary building blocks of sustainable community developme…
  • Sewing Factory For Hondurans Living With HIV/AIDS
    Vestry Papers
    Our Episcopal congregations in Province 9 as well as our Anglican brothers and sisters in the two-thirds world can offer valuable lessons related to innovative models of financial sustainability and asset based community development.
  • The Best Way to be Blocked
    Vestry Papers
    I’m not alone when making the observation that often, as we look ahead, our paths seem blocked and full of obstacles.
  • Out of Many, One: New River Regional Ministry
    Vestry Papers
    The New River Regional Ministry is the result of the commitment of The Diocese of Southeast Florida, All Saints Church, St. Ambrose Church, El Centro Hispano de Todos los Santos, and St. Ambrose Pre-school to serve joyfully both in the abundance and …
  • St. Alban's: Why Grow?
    Vestry Papers
    The second installment of Brent Owens' article on St. Alban's Episcopal Church in Monroe, GA. "After the substantial decline in size, a major focus of St. Alban’s has been on growth."
  • Roscoe and the Widow's Mite
    Vital Posts
    Roscoe opens his hand to reveal the pair of earrings. The tarnished hoops look small in his calloused hands. I found these in one of the trash bags I was sorting through, he tells me. I cleaned ‘em up real good for you. I take t…
  • What's Your Asking Style?
    Vital Posts
    Are you getting ready to speak the question every leader eventually needs to ask? “Are you willing to join me in giving…?" In most of our congregations, we’re coming upon the time for annual pledge or giving campaigns. I consider stewards…
  • “Final Affairs” Fair Offers a Good Way Out
    Vital Posts
    Our church on Saturday used the format provided on the Vital Practices website to host a “Final Affairs” Fair where members could look death in the eye and walk away smiling. The idea is have in one place information and resources about a n…
  • Vanity of Vanities; All Is Vanity
    Vital Posts
    In just a few days I’ll travel to Texas to visit my parents, eat Texas-styled brisket, and to talk shop. And when I say “talk shop” I mean that literally. My parents have a small shop where they sell antiques as well as old and refurbished furn…
  • Editor's Letter: September 2011
    Vital Posts
    September is a time of new beginnings. Summer vacations are over and the start of the new church program year brings a sense of optimism, a chance to try something new. For the September and October Vestry Papers, we’re sharing stories from i…
  • One Step Out of "Stuckness"
    Vestry Papers
    Helping others make spirited and rooted next steps often involves being intentional about not only where you want to go but also what is keeping you from getting started.
  • New Heights
    Vestry Papers
    In today’s world of decreasing church attendance, changing parish demographics, and difficult economic times, it is essential that all of us optimize the stewardship of the resources with which we are blessed.
  • Green Shoots from the Stump
    Vestry Papers
    In the first of a two-part series, the Rev. Brent Owens writes that when you're down, you're not out.
  • A Stewardship Miracle
    Vital Posts
    It’s not loaves and fishes. But considering that some Episcopalians regard coffee hour as the eighth sacrament, this is close. An entrepreneur, Jonathan Stark wasn’t planning an experiment about the kindness of strangers. He was exploring…
  • Stewardship season is just around the corner...
    Vital Posts
    How meaningful will your next annual stewardship campaign be? In the midst of bitter debates about the U.S. debt ceiling and increasing fears of rattled markets, our congregations’ annual stewardship campaigns can be about a lot more than money …
  • Thoughtful Stewardship - Beyond the Tithe
    Vestry Papers
    “All things come of thee, O Lord, and of thine own have we given thee” is a familiar phrase to most of us, spoken as our church offerings are brought before the Lord.
  • Time Stewardship at a New Level
    Vestry Papers
    When you were elected by your peers to the vestry, you quickly became aware you had the power of the purse.
  • Enabling Generosity
    Vestry Papers
    Members of a vestry are responsible for the church’s resources. That usually means obtaining, managing, and directing the use of people, buildings, and investments of and for the church and its ministries.
  • The Heart that Gives
    Vestry Papers
    It is with a real sense of serendipity that this issue of Vestry Papers offers the theme of stewardship and the opportunity for me to introduce myself as Cornerstone’s new director.
  • Money, God and Vestries
    Vestry Papers
    Money is a great invention. Aren’t we better off not having to lug potatoes or chickens (dead or alive) to barter with when we go shopping?
  • The Giving Connection
    Vital Posts
    Deciding where to give these days is getting tricky. I’ve been part of a wonderful Episcopal congregation in New York City for over 15 years. Week in and week out I’ve seen the incarnate love of God expressed in and through the members of t…
  • What’s Your Claim to Fame?
    Vital Posts
    How or what is your congregation known for in your community? In my town, the two Episcopal Churches may be best known for their fundraisers. Both St. Michael’s and St. Andrew’s Episcopal churches in Marblehead, Mass have long established f…
  • Morning Musings on Giving
    Vital Posts
    I’ve been thinking about stewardship and giving all week. First, there was the announcement in the parish bulletin reminding us saintly slackers to keep up with our pledges over the summer. I admit it: I needed that reminder. Since I haven’t se…
  • Discernment: A Building Program About More than Buildings
    Fieldwork
    Almost every congregation considers a capital campaign at some point in time. You’ve invited to follow St. Aiden’s in Alexandria, Virginia as they progress through the steps of a campaign.
  • Facing Financial Adversity
    Vestry Papers
    “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life; what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on....”
  • Stewardship: Glass half-full
    Vital Posts
    The list of expenses was long. Over the past year, this Appalachian church installed a new boiler system, purchased an industrial stove and oven, and dug up half the parking lot to repair the water and sewer pipes. Bids are out for a new roof…
  • Jewish Children's Garden Curriculum
    Your Turn
    Wonderful introduction to plant biology, nature study and creation care. 34 lessons spread throughout the seasons. Mainly for 2 - 5 year olds. Aimed at teaching Jewish values, very adaptable.
  • Trash or ???
    Vital Posts
    Outside, the street sweeper is making another pass. After the snowiest winter in years, the streets are full of sand – and trash. Earlier this week I had a conversation about trash with Tracey Lind and Richard Horton from Cleveland’s Trinit…
  • Tips for Parishes Considering a Food Pantry Garden
    Tools
    A food pantry garden is a wonderful ministry for a faith community. These gardens foster disciplineship, stewardship of the earth and social justice. They are places of gathering, hospitality and celebration. Given proper planning and upkeep, a faith…
  • Faith in Action
    Vestry Papers
    Faith in action – loving God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength by loving our neighbors as ourselves – is the hallmark of Jubilee Ministry.
  • Meeting God in a Faith Garden
    Vestry Papers
    Gardens have always been places to meet God and God’s people.
  • The Little Church That Could
    Vital Posts
    “We had an emergency building committee meeting on Thursday. The boiler is failing. But when I left the meeting, after 2 hours, I was so energized!” That isn’t the usual response from a property committee chair. But it was Liz’s respons…
  • Transition Towns...and Churches?
    Vital Posts
    The Holy Spirit is a renewable resource. It’s been fueling Christian communities for over 2000 years, since the first great unleashing at Pentecost. Fossil fuels are not.         Although they’ve been fueling our modern society for about …
  • Getting Perspective
    Vital Posts
    This isn’t the blog post I had in mind. Last night, still wrestling with words and a deadline, I took a break to join the Sisters in singing the ancient prayers of Compline. Yet when I left chapel I was overwhelmed by something more ancient: the …
  • Going Green: A Step at a Time
    Vital Posts
    Hearing the rumble outside my office window, my first thought was that the recycling truck had arrived. When the noise continued longer than expected, I looked up: it was the oil truck. Living in the northeast, I have a love/hate relationship wi…
  • La Bonne Cuisine: A Mortgage and a Mission
    Vital Posts
  • Caring for Creation
    Vital Posts
    Subtle changes happen to the earth as the spring equinox approaches. The sun is higher in the sky and days are noticeably longer. Hints of new growth appear on trees and shrubs. The drab colors of winter give way to the bright colors of new life. …
  • What’s in a Name?
    Vital Posts
    A lot. When it comes to honoring someone in a public way, people may take it personally. People in my hometown are crying ‘foul’ over a recent school committee decision related to naming the football field after a respected teac…
  • A Lenten Carbon Fast
    Vestry Papers
    Forty days of Lent. Nine hundred and sixty hours. Fifty-seven thousand, six hundred minutes.
  • The Genesis Covenant: Action for Climate Change
    Vestry Papers
    Global climate change models predict that extreme weather events will become increasingly common.
  • Tending to the Earth with Children
    Vestry Papers
    Issues of creativity lie at the very heart of Christian formation, because to live a life of grace is to live creatively.
  • God is My Rock
    Vestry Papers
    When I was eight or nine, I was playing outside on a hillside near the sea in Rhode Island, where my family spent time during the summer.
  • Christian Stewardship in the Hispanic Community
    Vestry Papers
    The Episcopal Church in Latin America is not widely known. It has a muted presence because of its small size, making many people here in the United States think that Hispanics only belong to the Roman Catholic or Pentecostal faiths.
  • Stewards: Caretakers of God's Abundance
    Vestry Papers
    The responsibilities of stewards over time have remained broad.
  • By the Numbers: Mission, Diversity Matter
    Vestry Papers
    When we speak of stewardship, we’re often using a theological word for a practical concept: taking care of business.
  • Discipleship and Young Adults: A Good Mix
    Vestry Papers
    When my rector asked me if I’d consider heading up the annual stewardship campaign, I admit to a sinking feeling in my stomach that many of us experience when faced with the task.
  • Final Affairs
    Vital Posts
    My 96 year old father-in-law passed away recently. Or, as the woman who called us at midnight said to my husband, "Your dad expired." Bob died the way he lived: on his own terms. Fiercely independent, he resisted recent attempts by family to se…
  • Planning for the End of Life
    Tools
    In the Episcopal Church we believe that your estate and end of life plans should reflect your values. The following ECF resource contains three sections: the medical directive, planning your funeral and writing your will.
  • Planned Giving: Promoting Planned Gifts
    Tools
    Use these letters and brochures to promote your planned giving program - either customize to your needs, or use them "as is" to get started right away.
  • Closing the Planning Gap
    Vestry Papers
    As we begin a new year, perhaps you are trying to decide, once again, what resolutions might bring you health and peace. One goal might be to close the planning gap. Or, put another way, this may be the year to finally address end of life issues for …
  • Creating a Legacy Society
    Tools
    A Legacy Society is not only a great way to encourage planned gifts, but a way for those who provide for the church to witness to their faith. Here's how to create an informational brochure and enrollment form.
  • Make an ask this New Year's Eve
    Vital Posts
    Since there are only ten more days until Christmas Eve, it’s likely that many people and parishes are feeling the pressure. There are choir rehearsals to attend, Christmas Eve services to plan, new visitors to welcome and a children’s Christmas…
  • Busybodies or Workers?
    Vital Posts
    I’ve been thinking a lot about “work” lately. The value of work, types of work, and how people work. St. Paul got me thinking even more last weekend with his letter to the Thessalonians. Bluntly put: if you won’t work, you shouldn’t eat. …
  • And the Gold Goes to ...
    Vital Posts
    E-mail addresses are gold. By Olympic award standards, the bronze medal goes to snail mail addresses. Cell phone numbers snag the silver. But e-mail addresses rise to the top of the podium. Managing the database for a congregation…
  • The Balance Between Crazy and Amazing
    Vital Posts
    My diocese is not known to have many money problems.    But when a committee started drafting the 2011 budget, they realized we were facing a shortfall. Like every church organization, we’ve tightened our belts, frozen salaries, and made toug…
  • Three stitches. All better.
    Vital Posts
    Head wounds bleed.
 A lot.    
In Friday's contest between gate and girl, the gate won.
 When I picked up my 9-year-old, she hadn't cried yet. The tears hung on her lower lids until we left the school. Away from the sympathiz…
  • Facebook Stewardship
    Vital Posts
    If your parish has an active Facebook page, it is likely the idea of fundraising through Facebook has come up. A vestry member, for instance, pleased by the number of “likes” their parish page has received, imagines a day when a wall post yiel…
  • Going Green
    Vital Posts
    The Hope Conference (Healing Our Planet Earth (HOPE): Singing a New Song of Hope) was held in Seattle in 2008.  Featuring keynote speakers Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Bishop Stephen Charleston this event put the Episcopal Church …
  • Lost in Translation: Generosity
    Vital Posts
    Stewardship, apparently, gives off a bad smell. Or at least it does in Spanish. I’ve recently heard several Latino leaders wonder aloud whether we should continue using the Spanish word for stewardship. A steward - un mayordomo - has generall…
  • Pledge Cards Prayer
    Your Turn
    In English and Spanish, written by Bishop Greg Rickel, Diocese of Olympia
  • Rejoice & beware: Practical issues
    Vestry Papers
    A capital campaign is an opportunity for building community, yet it can be fraught with obstacles.
  • Limited funds, limited time, yet success
    Vestry Papers
    Many small parishes never undertake capital campaigns because of the difficulties and limitations that come with having few resources.
  • Capital campaigns, faith and hard times
    Vestry Papers
    St. Michael and All Angels is not a wealthy congregation. However, the story of our capital campaign over the past couple of years has been quite remarkable.
  • How to Plan a "Final Affairs" Fair
    Tools
    Does your parish have a planned giving program? Learn how one parish used the church fair model to breathe life (pun intended) into their planned giving program.
  • Stewardship Resources
    Tools
    ECF's spreadsheet of current stewardship resources, organized by topic, source and type.
  • Don't inspire guilt, deliver hope
    Vestry Papers
    Here are the things that distinguished our campaign at Emmanuel Church in downtown Boston from all the other guilt-inspiring, despair-delivering, email asks that you and I see in our inboxes every day.
  • Planning and Recruiting for Stewardship
    Webinars
    Summer is the perfect time to recruit volunteers. Fewer committee meetings mean more time for the one-on-one visits so important to matching the right person to the job. If your recruiting plan entails phoning an active volunteer to fill a new vacanc…
  • Year Round Stewardship
    Webinars
    Looking to move from a basic annual appeal to a year-round, holistic theology of stewardship in your parish? How does a parish's leadership do this in easy, practical ways? What are the benefits and what can you expect for volunteer support? In this…
  • Preparing for a Diocesan Capital Campaign
    Webinars
    Capital Campaigns are won or lost long before the first glossy brochure goes to press. And nowhere is the planning phase more critical than in the complex territory of a diocesan campaign. This webinar will address what steps you should take, what st…
  • Communicating Stewardship Year-Round
    Webinars
    Your congregation made a commitment to a year round stewardship and gratitude program: Your next step is to develop a communications plan that is fun, engaging, and deeply spiritual - and also practical. In this workshop, you'll learn ways to build a…
  • Integrating Annual, Capital & Planned Giving
    Webinars
    If you worry about “always asking for money” in your congregation, this webinar is for you. Far from competing for the same dollars, annual, capital, and planned giving programs should complement each other to build vibrant current ministries whi…
  • Generations Walking the Way
    Webinars
    Multiple generations walk the way of Jesus each with a distinct footprint and cadence. Join us as we explore the nuances of using the TENS' Stewardship Resource Series: Walking the Way to appeal to a variety of generational thoughts and practices. We…
  • Stewardship in the New Millennium
    Webinars
    Demographic and social changes are affecting giving to religious institutions nationwide. This workshop will walk you through these changes and show you how to apply this knowledge for stronger, more effective stewardship programs. Presented by Erin …
  • Las Campañas Anuales de la Mayordomía
    Webinars
    Más que la recaudación de fondos para satisfacer las necesidades del presupuesto operacional de la parroquia, las campañas anuales de mayordomía son una oportunidad para nutrir y hacer crecer nuestra fe. En este webinar se discutirán las formas …
  • Basics of a Capital Campaign
    Webinars
    A successful capital campaign raises more than money. It raises up new leadership, better communication, and a stronger spiritual community. This webinar will provide a step-by-step understanding of the methodology that has led hundreds of Episcopal …
  • Planning & Recruiting for Stewardship
    Webinars
    Summer is the perfect time to recruit volunteers. Fewer committee meetings mean more time for the one-on-one visits so important to matching the right person to the job. If your recruiting plan entails phoning an active volunteer to fill a new vacanc…
  • Basics of a Capital Campaign
    Webinars
    A successful capital campaign raises more than money. It raises up new leadership, better communication, and a stronger spiritual community. This web conference will provide a step-by-step understanding of the methodology that has led hundreds of Epi…
  • Major Donors for Dioceses
    Webinars
    Why are your wealthiest Episcopalians giving more to their alma mater than to the Church? Should you care? Can you change things? This web conference will address how to build relationships with the financial visionaries in your pews. We will discuss…
  • Why Endowment Structure Matters
    Webinars
    Getting the structure of your endowment right is often the key to its success. If you want to encourage legacy gifts to your endowment, you need to be able to explain how the money will be used, invested and spent, and who is in charge of making thos…
  • The Opportunities of Charitable Remainder Trusts
    Webinars
    This webinar on opportunities of chariatble remainder trusts features a conversation's with ECF's new legal counsel, Nancy Marx, and David Leibell, ECF's prior attorney in planned giving work.
  • Spending Rules for Endowments
    Webinars
    Using proper spending rules with your endowment is key to maintaining confidence and trust with your congregation and a key component of proper endowment management. Participants will learn about policies and practices to protect, manage, and grow yo…
  • Walking The Way: Planning Annual Giving Campaigns
    Webinars
    The annual giving campaign serves many purposes, including discipleship formation. This web conference will take you step by step through a planning process that integrates best practices in raising funds and raising disciples. Using the Walking The …
  • Basics of Endowments
    Webinars
    This webinar reviews basic principles and best practices for endowment management. You will examine important, and easy to use, documents to use for structuring your endowment and for clarifying its purpose. Participants will also learn about endowme…
  • Transformation by Capital Campaign
    Webinars
    Whether you are considering embarking on a capital campaign, fearing that you need to conduct one, ignoring the need for one, or recovering from mistakes made in a past campaign, you should come hear the surprising good news - A capital campaign done…
  • Basics of Endowments
    Webinars
    This workshop reviews basic principles and best practices for endowment management. You will examine important, and easy to use, documents to use for structuring your endowment and for clarifying its purpose. Participants will also learn about endowm…
  • Basics of Parish Finances
    Webinars
    How congregations spend their money is a clear indication of their understanding of mission and ministry. For any parish leader, lay or clergy, a quick look at the financial situation can help one discern a key piece of the congregation's identity an…
  • Flourishing in Faith: Celebrating the Harvest
    Webinars
    This webinar will be based on the Flourishing In Faith series of bulletin inserts produced by The Episcopal Network for Stewardship. (TENS) We will explore how to use the bulletin inserts to engage your congregation in thoughtful reflection about the…
  • Legacy Societies and Your Planned Giving Ministry
    Webinars
    Learn how a legacy society will enhance and empower your congregation's planned giving ministry. Jim Murphy and representatives from parishes with active legacy societies will discuss how legacy societies have made an impact in their congregations.
  • Making a Planned Gift to Benefit Your Congregation
    Webinars
    Join other parishioners just like you to learn more about planned giving options and how they can benefit both you and your congregation. Planned or legacy giving is an important aspect of your stewardship and can take many different forms such as a …
  • Major Donors for Dioceses
    Webinars
    Why are your wealthiest Episcopalians giving more to their alma mater than to the Church? Should you care? Can you change things? This webinar will address how to build relationships with the financial visionaries in your pews. We will discuss donor …
  • Basics of a Capital Campaign
    Webinars
    A successful capital campaign raises more than money. It raises up new leadership, better communication, and a stronger spiritual community. This webinar will provide a step-by-step understanding of the methodology that has led hundreds of Episcopal …
  • Basics of Planned Giving
    Webinars
    This web conference focuses on the basics of planned giving, how it differs from annual stewardship and capital campaigns, how your parish can build endowment through life income gifts, and you will have a plan of action by the end of the web confere…
  • Basics of Endowments
    Webinars
    This workshop reviews basic principles and best practices for endowment management. You will examine important, and easy to use, documents to use for structuring your endowment and for clarifying its purpose. Participants will also learn about endowm…
  • Best Practices for Annual Giving Campaigns
    Webinars
    This workshop provides an overview for your parish on how to set up a year-round stewardship program focusing on clear theological grounding and practical tools to implement your efforts. Participants will learn how to move forward on planning your S…
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