September 12, 2019 by Linda Buskirk

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.”

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Topics: Stewardship
August 28, 2019 by Cathy Hornberger

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.

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Topics: Stewardship
August 2, 2019 by Maurice Seaton

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:

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Topics: Stewardship
July 12, 2019 by Annette Buchanan

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.

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Topics: Stewardship
March 26, 2019 by Linda Buskirk
Topics: Stewardship
December 28, 2018 by Jeannette McDonald

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.

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Topics: Stewardship
October 1, 2018 by Linda Buskirk

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.

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Topics: Stewardship
September 19, 2018 by Melissa Rau

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.

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Topics: Stewardship
September 7, 2018 by Linda Buskirk

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.”

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August 28, 2018 by Alan Bentrup

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.

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Topics: Mission, Stewardship
July 23, 2018 by Linda Buskirk

Why do you give to the church? Is it out of obligation, loyalty, gratitude, assurance that the gift will make a good impact, support for community?

It turns out that there are studies about what motivates giving. They conclude: Often your perspective is tied to your generation.

The Episcopal Church Foundation has stressed this for several years in its teaching about how to strengthen stewardship ministry. St. John’s Episcopal Church in Grand Haven, Michigan, took the lessons to heart, including differently-worded letters to parishioners of different generations. The letters are delivered in annual giving packets that include a booklet describing the impact of St. John’s ministries, and a pledge card.

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Topics: Stewardship
April 20, 2018 by Linda Buskirk

“We are doing something we've never done before. We are changing the culture of resource development in our Church to be more fruitful for God's mission.”

So boldly announce the College for Bishops, the Development Office of the Episcopal Church, and the Episcopal Church Foundation (ECF), in their partnership creation called Project Resource.

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Topics: Stewardship
March 16, 2018 by Linda Buskirk

It’s Lent – a great time to start constructing your congregation’s annual giving campaign – and, no, not as part of your penance. It’s a great time because it’s early in the calendar year and, for most churches, the fiscal year too. There is ministry happening all over! Take advantage of opportunities now through the summer to document how current year giving is making impacts. Here are three steps to get you started:

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Topics: Vestry, Stewardship
December 4, 2017 by Annette Buchanan

Many churches have just completed their annual Commitment or Stewardship programs where the congregation is asked to recommit to their church giving including their time, treasure and talent. There are many available resources, experts and programs to address this critical activity. Some are well executed and others have mixed or failing results. My observation is that often times it is the follow-up that is the weakest link that undermines these programs.

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Topics: Stewardship
November 21, 2017 by Anna Olson

By this time, the well-organized among us will have carried out our carefully laid stewardship campaign plans and will be reaping the harvest of generous pledge cards. The rest of us will manage somehow to keep things flowing for another year, using whatever combination of grit, habit, late mailings and frantic or low-key appeals.

In the pledge-driven madness, let us not forget the other half of good stewardship: faithful and realistic budgeting. Whether we have had glorious pledge campaign success or more of a white-knuckle experience, the church budget -- now under preparation in most of our congregations -- can elevate or sink the best efforts at generating support for our ministries.

To be useful, budgets have to be realistic. This might seem to go without saying, but I have seen many churches trim ruthlessly on the expense side, while taking a wildly optimistic (if not downright fantastical) approach to the income side of the church budget. Heck, I’ve done it myself in more than one place, on more than one occasion.

Here are a couple of guidelines to start with.

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November 10, 2017 by Greg Syler

In the middle of my first ‘stewardship’ season as a new rector, now ten years ago, I was doing everything by the book and already feeling overwhelmed and unenthused. The congregational leaders appeared only mildly interested in doing a pledge drive. And yet it’s drilled into us, in most every way, that the fall is the time to do stewardship, be intentional, make sure you make the proper ask, but of course couch it in terms of God’s larger mission because you’re not just asking people to pay the church’s salaries and light bills – oh, and remember to do stewardship year-‘round so it’s not only an annual request for generous pledges.

At a local clergy meeting that fall, the wiser, more senior rector of a neighbor parish said to me, “I simply hate this time of year.”

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Topics: Stewardship, Mission
October 23, 2017 by Sarah Townsend Leach

This is part two of a two part blog in which I address a question I hear frequently: “But, what will happen to our annual stewardship pledging if we hold a capital campaign? Won’t it go down? We can’t afford to have our annual stewardship pledging decrease!” This fear is common among so many congregations because, often, adequate time has not been spent talking and educating about the different ways we can give to the church.

In part one, I addressed annual stewardship. In part two, I will address capital giving and planned giving.

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October 20, 2017 by Sarah Townsend Leach

Last weekend, as I do several times per year, I was standing in front of a group of parishioners at an Episcopal church introducing the process ECF uses to guide a faith community in deciding if a capital campaign is in their future. As the rain poured down outside the window behind me and my PowerPoint presentation shined into the dim room, a man in the back row asked a question I hear from someone at almost every church I visit: “But, what will happen to our annual stewardship pledging if we hold a capital campaign? Won’t it go down? We can’t afford to have our annual stewardship pledging decrease!” This fear is common among so many congregations because, often, adequate time has not been spent talking and educating about the different ways we can give to the church.

The short answer to his questions is, if we (the campaign leadership from your parish supported by me, your ECF capital campaign consultant) do our jobs right, the total given through annual stewardship pledges will not decrease over the course of a capital campaign.

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October 18, 2017 by Brendon Hunter

This month we offer five resources to help your congregation with different generational aspects to giving. Please share this digest with your parish leadership and extend an invitation to subscribe to ECF Vital Practices to receive Vestry Papers and the monthly digest.

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Topics: Stewardship, Finance
September 27, 2017 by Linda Buskirk

The words we choose to discuss annual giving with our congregation can resonate obligation or gratitude. Or both. Kate Ferris wrote about this in her 2007 Vestry Papers article, Good Stewardship Addresses Hopes and Fears. She described a successful annual giving campaign at St. George’s in Clifton Park, New York, that “provided both practical and spiritual messages about pledging:”

We made an effort to balance the type of messages people received. Some people understand that unless they pledge, the church cannot meet its financial obligations. Others respond to the biblical teachings about giving first fruits or giving back to God.

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Topics: Stewardship