March 16, 2018

3 Steps Toward Your Annual Giving Campaign

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:

  1. Form a story-telling team with representatives of your Stewardship, Communications and Finance commissions. As a team, identify some big activities ahead on the church calendar and what ministries are involved. This is fun brainstorming, especially if you start was some obvious high points, such as Easter, which involves ministries of worship, music and many others. Other milestones might be Pentecost, the end of the Christian formation year, acolyte training, baptisms, the Bishop’s scheduled visit, a Habitat for Humanity project or other community outreach project of your parish.
  2. Document the goodness. Set a plan for who will photograph and write about each of the activities you have identified, and how these stories will be communicated to the congregation: Facebook, Twitter, newsletters, etc. Then do it. Keep a record of all of this joyful communication.
  3. Create a narrative budget. A narrative budget tells the story of the impact of your congregation’s giving. It explains how the dollars offered back to God in gratitude are used to impact lives, which is a lot more interesting and meaningful than a line item presentation. Practical guidelines for creating such a budget are found in a Vital Practices article by Lisa Meeder Turnbull of the Episcopal Diocese of Maine, entitled Narrative Budget Template. Your Treasurer/Finance Committee’s involvement in your Story-Telling Team will help ensure that you will develop an accurate representation of impact.
    Once the narrative budget is created, illustrate it with all that documentation you’ve been using to joyfully tell stories about the impact of ministries. People want to know that their gifts make a difference. An illustrated, narrative budget does just that because it helps people make the connection between their giving and how much good happens because of their giving. It will be one important piece of your overall annual giving campaign materials.

It takes intentional effort and teamwork to create compelling messages about the spirituality of giving and what happens when people give generously. That’s why now is a great time to start.