June 1, 2023 by Anne Richardson

A new energy is springing up in churches looking to inspire new gifts to endowment. We’ve recently talked to several churches who are making plans for an endowment campaign, whether to grow an existing endowment or start a new one. While there are several steps to success, in this blog post we’ll focus on one: engaging parishioners by telling the impact story of your church so far and linking that to a future vision.

Why is this important? We know that many donors today give not out of habit or convention, out of duty or obligation, but because they see that gifts are used in a way that makes a difference. Coupled with this, while all fundraising is fundamentally a future-oriented activity, endowment fundraising asks your members to think about the long-term future. Why sustain the mission and ministry of your church into the future? How do you envision growing the impact your church has already made into the future?

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May 17, 2023 by Josh Anderson

Topics: Endowments, Finance
March 30, 2023 by Juliette Acker

Success doesn’t just happen; we must plan for it. Many churches have an endowment fund, but not all have the markers of success. At ECF, we encourage churches to act intentionally and proactively to build a successful and sustainable endowment that engages the vestry, the endowment committee, and the whole church community. It’s important to continually assess your endowment strategy especially if an endowment lacks organization, if it is not growing with new gifts, or if many church members are unaware of the endowment’s existence or purpose.

How to Structure your Endowment for Success

Step 1: Identify the church’s vision for the endowment

The first attribute of a successful endowment is a clear vision of what it can help the church accomplish. Endowments are an excellent way for churches to ensure that the gifts they receive will continue to benefit the church for years to come, but that will only become a reality if there is a direct line from the mission of the church to the vision of the endowment. Are you clear about how your endowment fund can help your church fulfill its mission? (And are you clear about its specific purpose?) All church leaders – including both vestry and endowment committee members – as well as the congregation must “own” the endowment vision. Root it in your shared mission. Make it simple and compelling. And proclaim it clearly.

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Topics: Endowments, Finance
November 4, 2022 by Juliette Acker

The importance of legacy is firmly rooted in the minds and hearts of the parishioners of All Saints Episcopal Church in Tarpon Springs, FL. I interviewed The Reverend Janet Tunnell, the rector, James Rissler, chair of the Funding our Future committee, and Ellen Lightner, chair of the Perpetual Light Legacy Society, to learn how creating a legacy society helped and is continuing to help All Saints grow the church’s endowment for the future.

Founded in 1892, All Saints Episcopal Church is in sunny Tarpon Springs, Florida, a historical fishing village on the Gulf Coast. Generations of families have attended the church, yet it’s also a welcoming place for newcomers. “We are just a very close tight-knit family. When you come the first time you're embraced and welcomed, and you feel like you've been there forever.” Ellen Lightner said.

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July 11, 2022 by Carsten Sierck

“Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Proverbs 29: 18

Would you give money to a cause not knowing how it would be spent? Most people give to causes that affirm their cherished values, but donors are more likely to give when they know an organization will use their gift wisely … and believe the gift will make a difference. Churches face increasing competition for the time, attention, and money of their parishioners. Donors who care will give when they are moved by your mission, understand your plans, and trust you.

Endowment giving requires a special kind of trust. A donor must know a church will be trustworthy well into the future, beyond the time when the donor is part of the congregation. To inspire endowment gifts, to motivate new gifts and earn recurring gifts, church leaders can carefully build, nurture, and sustain that trust.

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Topics: Endowments, Finance
May 13, 2022 by Carsten Sierck

Do you believe in the mission and work of your church? Would you like to help your church ensure that it can serve people for years to come? If you answered yes, then you believe in the benefits of an endowment. An endowment provides financial support that can impact your community far into the future. It can build the vitality of your church and create stronger bonds with your surrounding community through the ministries your church creates and supports.

If your church wants to discuss if this is the right time to start an endowment, contact ECF’s Endowment Management program at endowment@ecf.org

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March 1, 2022 by Josh Anderson

I’m not sure about you, but I struggle with this stretch of the winter. This part of the year recalls images of Narnia prior to the fulfillment of the Golden Age Prophecy which saw the return of spring to a world suffering in a state of constant winter, never Christmas.

I’ve been thinking about winter a great deal, actually. I’ve been reading the book ‘Wintering’ by British writer Katherine May. In it, May describes “wintering” as “a fallow period in life when you’re cut off from the world, feeling rejected, sidelined, blocked from progress or cast into the role of an outsider.” ‘Wintering’ goes on to provide readers with guidance for transforming the hardships that arise before the shepherding in of a new season.

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March 20, 2019 by Melissa Rau

This month, we are highlighting five resources that can help your faith community invest in and maintain an endowment. Who else do you know who might appreciate these articles? Please share and extend an invitation to subscribe to ECF Vital Practices to receive Vestry Papers and the monthly digest.

1. In Four Steps to Maintain and Increase Your Endowment, Jerry Keucher shares the Dos and Don’ts of how to use your church’s endowment. If your church in considering establishing an endowment or wondering how an endowment might be beneficial, this is a very helpful read.

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Topics: Endowments, Finance
April 25, 2018 by Melissa Rau

This month we are highlighting five resources to help your vestry or other church groups learn more about effective endowment management. 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. An "Endow your Pledge" Campaign
In order for most traditional churches to function, they depend on the generosity of their parishioners in the form of pledges. What would it look like if some were to guarantee their annual pledge in perpetuity? In An "Endow your Pledge" Campaign, Deborah Kelly shares how her church educated and invited parishioners to think about endowing their pledge.

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Topics: Endowments, Finance
November 17, 2016 by Brendon Hunter

In the November Vital Practices Digest, we offer 5 resources for creating and growing endowments, practicing good oversight, and establishing year-round stewardship in your congregation.

It’s easy and free to receive more great resources for your congregation. Subscribe to ECF Vital Practices to receive Vestry Papers and this Vital Practices Digest in your inbox each month.

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Topics: Endowments, Finance
August 19, 2015 by Brendon Hunter

Building a Legacy for Future Ministry

In the August Vital Practices Digest, we offer five resources related to planned giving. As always, our fifth resource suggests a way to strengthen your practice of year-round stewardship.

It’s easy and free to connect with these resources for your congregation. Subscribe to ECF Vital Practices and receive Vestry Papers and this Vital Practices Digest in your inbox each month.

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March 18, 2014 by Erin Weber-Johnson
How an invitation or gift is received can be a telling indicator….
I live in small city. The other night I was coming out of a restaurant with some girl friends and found a wallet on the ground near my car. I looked inside and found a cell phone and credit cards. 
Wallet in hand, I got in my car and headed home, intending to call the owner. I got as far as Grand Avenue, the main street in St. Paul. There I saw a police car parked on the side of the road. “Wonderful timing!” I thought and pulled over. 
I got out of my car and motioned to the police officer to do the same. Explaining my situation, I handed the officer the wallet and asked if he would take care of it. The officer declined, saying he worked in the narcotics division and that his protocol required that he file it as evidence rather then call the owner.
After thanking the policeman, I got back in my car and drove home. Using the owner’s phone, I was able to look through the stored contacts until I found the wallet’s owner. Within a couple hours, the wallet had been returned to its owner. 

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Topics: Endowments
February 12, 2014 by Greg Syler

“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 endowment policy. Based on best practices from around the church, this policy has emerged from a conversation we’ve been having at St. George’s, Valley Lee: how can we most effectively put the financial resources of our parish into mission and ministry, first and foremost? What he was looking for, from me, was a nice introductory section to a thick financial document, something about the particularities of St. George’s Episcopal Church.

I’m afraid I must’ve flunked ‘Rector School’ because I haven’t forced the leadership of this parish to write a comprehensive mission statement. Truth be told, I’ve found a few mission statements in past records. And depending on whom you ask you might get a more definitive statement than I gave. I just don’t think mission statements motivate much, and I know the energy spent in creating them is in no way equal to the returns from having one.

My terse response, however, led to a bigger – and better – conversation.

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Topics: Endowments
August 5, 2013 by Richelle Thompson

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. These figurines are extraordinarily delicate. A workshop in southern Germany makes these, pouring porcelain over lace, creating exquisite, intricate dresses on these small statues.

For most of my life, I’ve kept them safety enshrined behind the glass of a china cabinet. With this latest move, they found a new place of honor.  And, oh I’ve enjoyed them. It’s silly, I know. But on a walk through the living room, I’ll catch a glimpse of them and am taken back to Bavaria, to trips as a child, to the first time I showed my husband this beautiful part of the world. When people come to visit, they often ask about the figurines, and I get to share their story. 

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Topics: Endowments
June 19, 2013 by Brendon Hunter

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, perhaps to have conversations related to both your annual budget and long term financial health such as endowments or planned giving. Other financial discussions you may need to have center on planning a capital campaign or updating the spending rules on your endowment. We’ve pulled together some articles and resources from ECF Vital Practices to help get the conversation started. You can find more by using the Topics section on ECF Vital Practices or using the search feature on the upper right hand corner.

Another resource is the upcoming TENS Conference, July 12 – 13. Many of the plenary and workshop sessions are available via live webcast; click here to learn more and register.

Thank you to the over 5,000 of you who have ‘liked’ ECF Vital Practices on Facebook. If you have found ECF Vital Practices useful in your ministry, please invite others in you congregation to subscribe to ECF Vital Practices, to receive Vestry Papers and this midmonth digest. Connect with ECF Vital Practices: like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Creating a Sound Parish Budget
Planning for fall stewardship campaigns and budgeting for 2014 should be underway right now – or maybe need to get jump started? Summer also can present cash flow difficulties for congregations, have you adequately prepared for this? Craig Bossi offers practical tips and suggestions for every congregation to consider in, “Creating a Sound Parish Budget.”

Authentic Tough Talk
Talking about parish finances doesn’t have to be difficult, but it’s impossible when you don’t have any information. This became clear to Dick Kirth when his vestry recognized that maybe they didn’t know as much about their budget and finances as they thought they did. Even though the congregation was in good shape, they discovered, “We were stuck without being aware that we were stuck.” In “Authentic Tough Talk,” he tells us how changing their conversations about finances opened the process, shifted the tone to relational, and helped increase pledging.

Blog Posts

"Final Affairs" Fair Offers a Good Way Out: Planning for end of life can be a fun and engaging activity for the entire congregation. Here is how St. Andrew’s in Seattle did theirs…

Spirituality of Fundraising: Can fundraising be good for your spiritual health? A recommended resource by Henri Nouwen for those embarking on stewardship or fundraising efforts.

More Fun Fundraising: Let’s look at our fundraisers, even those long-held, written-in-stone traditions, and ask an important question: Are they fun?

Tools and Resources

Summer Financial Webinars: Upcoming financial topics include legacy societies, capital campaigns, and stewardship. Be sure to reserve your spot and register today!

Administering Charitable Endowments: Do you need more information about endowments? This article is a great place to learn some of the basic framework of charitable endowments.

Addressing Lackluster Stewardship Campaigns: View a recording of this popular webinar online which looks at the role of messaging and how tone and content can impact annual campaigns.

Audits: A Necessity, Not an Option

If your congregation doesn’t already do an annual audit, consider finding a way to build it into your next year’s budget. Why an annual audit? As Tom Patterson points out in “Audits: A Necessity, Not an Option,” there are many creative ways for congregations of any size to be able to afford a yearly audit. “Internal or external audits should be seen as supportive and protective of the staff doing the day to day, month to month financial operations. The objective is not to “catch” people, but rather to allow them to sleep as well.”

Topics: Endowments