Every month ECFVP offers five resources on a theme. This month we've asked Paul Klitzke, Rector at Church of the Ascension in Dallas, TX, to offer a vlog sharing how he uses the different resource types on Vital Practices. Please find his choices below. Please share this email with new members of your vestry and extend an invitation to subscribe to ECF Vital Practices to receive Vestry Papers and this monthly digest.
Every month ECFVP offers five resources on a theme. This month we've asked Miriam McKenney, Forward Movement’s Director of Development and Mission Engagement, to choose five resources for healthy churches that resonated with her. Please find her choices below.
Most Episcopal organizations rely on generous donors to support their mission and ministry. Stewardship can be deeply spiritual, rooted in a desire to reorient our lives towards God, but it also has a practical side. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, signed into law on March 27, 2020, includes several provisions that may affect charitable giving this year. We encourage churches to talk about these opportunities with their congregations.
New charitable deduction for taxpayers who do not itemize. Beginning in 2020, individuals can deduct $300 in charitable contributions from their gross income even if they do not itemize their deductions. Donations must be made in cash to a charity. Gifts of appreciated securities, and gifts to a donor advised fund or supporting organization, do not qualify. Although the permissible amount is modest, it is a new benefit available to many of your donors.
La mayoría de las organizaciones episcopales dependen de donantes generosos en apoyo de su misión y ministerio. La mayordomía puede ser profundamente espiritual, enraizada en el deseo de reorientar nuestras vidas hacia Dios, pero también tiene su lado práctico. La Ley Asistencia y Alivio del Coronavirus y de Seguridad Económica (Coronavirus Relief and Economic Security Act, abreviada como CARES), promulgada el 27 de marzo de 2020, contiene varias disposiciones que afectan las donaciones caritativas de este año. Estimulamos a las iglesias a que hablen sobre estas oportunidades con sus feligresías.
Never let a crisis go to waste.
- Winston Churchill
What do you do when you can’t pass the offering plate? How does congregational giving happen when a pandemic has shut our doors?
Our traditional ways of congregational giving are just one more of our paradigms of church crushed by the COVID crisis. And like our other congregational paradigms that have fallen before COVID19, they are probably gone for good. At least I hope so, because when paradigms collapse in the face of crisis, that means that they are either based on false assumptions or did not adequately address the full reality of human experience.
The arrival of COVID-19 will mean fewer people attending church—and probably some services cancelled altogether. Yet churches need to pay the bills whether people come on Sunday or not, and innovative ministries that adapt to the crisis (Zoom Bible studies, streaming sermons, etc.) require resources, too.
How can you pass the plate when people aren’t there to pass the plate? And how can your church safely receive payments if the virus can possibly survive for hours on printed materials (i.e. the mail)?
The answer is online giving
There is a collective exhale in Lent that is almost audible. The busyness of the holidays make it hard to catch our breath. Then we hold our breath, hoping that despite icy Sundays and snowbirds who’ve left for warmer climates, our church finances can weather winter.
But now it’s Lent, and we are quiet. Ideally we make room to breathe, to pray, to hope for Spring and resurrection.
Here are three ideas for using this time to breathe some life into your stewardship ministry.
“Stewardship” is a word we hear often in the church, especially beginning at this time of year and ending before Advent. What we in the Episcopal Church often mean when we say “stewardship” is the annual pledge drive conducted each fall, which is designed to secure financial commitments from members to fund the following year’s mission and ministry.
While I was raised in the Episcopal Church hearing this language, and while I still slip into using it myself with my ECF clients and in my own church, I’m here to ask that we please change our ways. In the secular nonprofit world, where I received my fund development education and first ten years of professional experience, the word “stewardship” does not connote asking for money; asking for money is “solicitation.”
Believe it or not, it’s that time of year again. It’s time to start planning to encourage your donors to make gift before the end of the year! We hope that you have been encouraging giving throughout the year. Even so, many donors discover, due to summer vacations and various other reasons that they have fallen behind on their pledges. The last few months of the year are a great time to send giving statements to your donors as gentle reminders of their previous commitments and to remind them about additional ways to give.
Pleasant and effective. That is the positive description of the ongoing Stewardship Ministry of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Grand Haven, Michigan.
I wrote about St. John’s personal approach to stewardship in 2018. It started with writing different letters to people of different generations (Why Do You Give to the Church?).
St. John’s Stewardship Chair John Harberts said the experience of communicating differently with different people made their whole task more personal. They took it a big step further, with Stewardship team members committing to stay in touch with a number of parishioners throughout the entire year. (For more details, click here).
In most faith communities, prayerful planning and preparations are about to launch annual giving campaigns. Many people frame this as “the time of asking for money.”
Thinking of the annual campaign as an invitation rather than “an ask” puts a different frame around the picture. An invitation generally means a request to join someone in doing something.
An invitation transforms a polite ask (“Please submit your pledge card because the church needs your support”), into a personal recognition that we’re all in this together: “We invite you to join us – the Stewardship Committee, Vestry and our Clergy - in making a financial commitment to St. Stephen’s for next year.”
This month we offer five resources on transformative stewardship. Please share this digest with new members of your vestry and extend an invitation to subscribe to ECF Vital Practices to receive Vestry Papers and the monthly digest.
1. Do you hear ‘stewardship’ and think ‘fall pledge drive’? In Transformative Stewardship Calendars, Chris Harris presents different ways to bring stewardship into your parishioners’ lives through the church calendar year.
Whether in capital campaign mode or not, annual giving is the primary source for funding the annual budget for most churches. Here are ten actions taken by churches that resulted in real increases in annual giving:
Many of us who were raised in the church as children I believe started out with good stewardship habits. Our parents ensured that we placed our loose change or dollar in the collection plate. Similarly, our Sunday school teachers collected our offerings and dutifully recorded them. We were proud to drop the coins in the plate and for the times when we even considered keeping the money to buy a treat, the stern rebuke from parents and teachers would set us on the right path.
So here we are years later and stewardship for many congregations is a challenge. There are many reasons why our stewardship goals are not met. They include fewer parishioners in our congregation, older and some younger congregants on fixed income, and many congregants who are financially challenged for a variety of reasons.
It’s that time of year when we are making decisions about how much we give to our church. Will I pledge annually or just put it in the collection plate when I attend church? Do I give what is left over or do I “give until I feel it?”
If we truly are following our Lord’s teachings, then some of us might have a guilty conscience. We may give regularly to our church but often it doesn’t have the same priority as mortgages, utilities, college, car or recreational loans. We think those have bills come first, then food, clothing, entertainment follow – there it is, there is what I can give to the church - the crumbs, the leftovers.
Saying thank you for a gift is good manners. So when donations or annual pledges are made to the church, most churches mind their manners and send thank you notes as well as official receipts acknowledging commitments.
Thank you notes are private communications. The issue of whether to publicly thank donors, by name, depends on the culture of each faith community.
As a congregational consultant, I’ve visited parishes in which nearly every space or thing installed has a name plate acknowledging the giver who made the pew/pulpit/font/organ/window/sacristy/choir room/chapel possible.
This month we offer five resources to help your congregation practice stewardship. Please share this digest with new members of your vestry and extend an invitation to subscribe to ECF Vital Practices to receive Vestry Papers and the monthly digest.
1. In Reframing Stewardship, Greg Syler shares how St. George’s in Valley Lee, Maryland engages in stewardship and financial generosity. Instead of stewardship drives, St George’s focuses on an annual pledge drive. In this article, Greg unpacks the difference between the two and why it matters.
We all know it’s coming. Letters are being written, folks are being asked to share their stories from the lectern, pledge cards are being designed. The annual giving campaign will soon be underway.
Unless it got started months ago. More and more, congregations are recognizing stewardship as an ongoing ministry. Activities occur throughout the year, such as celebrations of gratitude, education about different ways to give, and stories about the impact of gifts. Their communications shine a light on discipleship, not just the obligation of “membership.”
Vince Lombardi, former head coach of the Green Bay Packers, (supposedly) said: “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing!” For professional sports, winning drives every decision from strategy to personnel.
In the church, mission isn’t everything, it is the only thing! God’s mission (ideally) drives every aspect of church life. God’s mission determines when we say “yes” to certain opportunities, and also when we say “no.”
A clear vision of God’s mission is the heartbeat of a congregation’s movement as a community. And as we enter “stewardship season,” that vision plays a vital role in communication and helps answer the “why should I give” questions that many folks have.