September 2022
Stewardship in a New World

A Wonderful Time To Be Generous

Now, friends, I want to report on the surprising and generous ways
in which God is working in the churches…” 2 Corinthians 8:1 (MSG)

This is a wonderful time to be generous. Giving USA reports that Americans gave nearly $485 billion to charitable organizations last year – a four percent increase from 2020. Sixty-seven percent of those gifts came from individuals. Religious institutions received the largest share – nearly $136 billion.

For longtime members of faith communities and for newcomers, COVID has not only introduced us to new ways of gathering, but also to new ways of giving.

Habitual Generosity

Habitual generosity refers to how we routinely offer gifts for our local faith communities. New habits and tools have opened fresh avenues for generosity. Stewardship has moved beyond the confines of a once-a-year event to a year-round focus on God’s abundance and a recurring invitation into the adventure of generosity. Here’s some resources to introduce your faith community to Year-Round Stewardship and the Habit of Generosity:

Abundance: Creating a Culture of Generosity. Michael R. Ward. ISBN: 1506461409
Annual Giving Campaign Tools. ECF Vital Practices
One-Minute Stewardship. Charles Cloughen, Jr. ISBN: 9781640650084
Stewardship for All Seasons. Giving program by GSB Consultants.
A Year-Round Stewardship Program. Eugene Grimm and Richard Bosse
Year-Round Stewardship Practices. Webinar by

Flexible Generosity

Financial giving has become far more flexible. As of 2021, 80 percent of consumers preferred card transactions over cash, and check-writing is becoming obsolete. The venerable giving envelope has given way to on-line giving portals, ACH giving, social media/crowd funding campaigns, giving apps, text-to-give and QR codes.

These are not just gadgets, gimmicks or fads. They are tools to make it easy for supporters to be generous to Christ’s work through your faith community. When used well, these tools deliver a seamless experience of generosity that leaves a lasting impression of doing good, rather than lasting frustration at being blocked by technical glitches, complicated procedures or limited, outmoded means of giving. Here are some services to help your faith community create a reliable framework for flexible generosity: Vanco Faith ,, Easytithe and PushPay.

Planned Generosity

As families mature and their assets grow, they develop an enlarged capacity to make generous plans. Two popular financial planning tools structured for generosity are Donor Advised Funds (DAFs) and Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCDs).

A DAF is a charitable investment account managed by a sponsoring organization, such as a financial firm, community foundation or the Episcopal Church Foundation. Donors deposit assets into the DAF and receive an immediate tax deduction for their charitable gift. The funds are then invested for tax-free growth and the donor can advise grants from the DAF to any charitable organization.

QCDs provide a convenient way for your supporters aged 70½+ to make a charitable gift to your faith community from their Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs). Although IRA account holders are not required to make a minimum distribution (RMD) until age 72, beginning at age 70½, they have the option to designate tax exempt distributions totaling up to $100,000 per year to be transferred directly from their IRAs to the charitable organizations they choose.

Becoming familiar with DAFs and QCDs opens doors for your faith community to benefit from your supporters’ generous plans. Invite supporters to make DAF grants and 70½+ supporters to make QCD gifts to your faith community.

Make it easy for donors to give these gifts. Consider hosting a DAF-QCD workshop led by a trusted financial advisor or including a DAF-QCD invitation in your weekly announcements.

Recognize DAF and QCD gifts when they arrive – usually in the form of a check from the financial firm managing the accounts. Though you will not send a tax-deductible gift receipt to DAF or QCD donors, a note of thanks builds relationship and encourages ongoing generosity.

For guidance on DAFs and QCDs, contact Jim Murphy, ECF’s Managing Director for Stewardship Resources and Operations at (212) 870‑2844 or

Leaving a generous legacy

This is a wonderful time to be generous. Between now and 2050, Baby Boomers are transferring an estimated $30 trillion in assets through their estate plans. Up to $1 trillion of those assets is expected to be designated for charitable organizations. This is referred to as “The Boomer Trillion.”

This is an ideal time to invite your Boomers to leave a generous legacy by including your faith community in their estate plans. Faith communities have longstanding relationships with their supporters – sometimes spanning generations. Also, faith communities tap into a donor’s cherished values and core beliefs. For all these reasons your faith community is an ideal place for a supporter to leave a generous legacy through their last and often largest gift – an estate gift. This won’t happen automatically. It requires an invitation and, sometimes, a little help.

The Episcopal Church Foundation (ECF) offers two resources to help you walk with supporters and invite them to leave a generous legacy for your faith community:

1. ECF360, ECF’s on-line “DIY” comprehensive stewardship resource. There are free resources, and additional support is available by subscription.

2. ECF Endowment Management (EM), providing comprehensive endowment services, including help to grow your endowment through planned gifts.

A third resource is Jim Murphy’s new book Faithful Giving: The Heart of Planned Gifts, featuring ecumenical and interfaith perspectives on how to cultivate legacy gifts, including a case study from my former work with the ELCA Foundation.

Now is the most wonderful time of the year – a wonderful time to be generous!

Yvonne Lembo serves as Director of Development at ECF. For more than 20 years, Yvonne’s expertise has helped families, congregations and faith-based organizations harvest more than $50 million for their mission, stewardship and legacy goals.

Yvonne regards her work as an expression of God’s ministry call for her life. She holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Harvard University, the Master of Divinity with honors from Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP), and Certified Estate and Trust Specialist coursework with the Institute of Business and Finance.


This article is part of the September 2022 Vestry Papers issue on Stewardship in a New World