Five Rules of Stewardship
Do something worthwhile
Tell people about it
Get them involved
Ask for support
A solid financial foothold is an essential foundation for any congregation as it goes about its life of worship and mission. The Diocesan Stewardship Office exists to provide parishes and their members with the advice and the wherewithal to raise and conserve the funds needed to thrive.
Even though religious organizations receive more annual gifts than other charities, churches receive far fewer planned gifts, such as bequests, than would be expected. Since the largest gifts we make come at the end of life, this is a very unfortunate situation. People don’t leave a bequest to their churches is they were never asked, and don’t know how to make a gift.
Fortunately, Legacy Sunday gives you a chance to change this. It is designed to be as close to a turnkey program as possible.
- Select an appropriate Sunday.
- Adopt a vestry resolution (see enclosed) supporting Legacy Sunday.
- Recruit one or two people to help organize the event.
- Present anyone arranging for a planned or major gift to your parish with a certificate from the Society of the Magi, our diocesan recognition organization. Simply give me the names so I can have the certificate printed.
Read page 445 of the Prayer Book. If you don’t think people need a reminder to prepare for the end of life, many lawyers know horror stories about what happens when people don’t have Wills or they’re out of date.
The most important part of a planned giving ministry is repetition. Please regularly include in your Sunday bulletin a request for people to consider making a gift to the church. Bishop Grein suggested at least tithing to the church whatever we leave to our schools or colleges.
Finally, the Bishop of New York encourages recognition of anyone arranging for a planned gift, or a current major gift, by joining the Society of the Magi.
The Basic Steps are Known
Capital campaigns can help a congregation in many ways, provided they are done correctly. Fortunately, so many have been done over the years that the basic steps for a church are well established. Some experts feel congregations should undertake a campaign at least once a decade because of the accompanying focus on mission associated with a capital campaign. It is certainly true that capital campaigns usually make congregations healthier.
Using professional campaign counsel is one of the most important steps to assure a successful campaign.
Cultivation of the congregation should continue throughout the campaign.
Six Essential Steps
There are six essential steps to a successful capital campaign.
- First, start planning. Create or examine the long range plan adopted by the vestry. Which goals have the greatest urgency? Identify several goals so the campaign will have broad appeal. These goals will eventually be stated in a compelling way in the case statement. The feasibility study, which tests the reasonableness of the goal, is part of the planning process.
- Second, get organized, which begins by recruiting the campaign committee. The committee’s responsibilities include: developing the plan, setting policies, soliciting leadership gifts, provide overall management, and appoint other committees as needed.
- Third, solicit major gifts, which are also called leadership gifts, before the campaign is officially launched. Most counsel recommend a “top down, inside out” approach. Begin soliciting top prospects for major gifts and those who are most involved in the congregation.
- Fourth: general solicitation after launching the campaign. If you have 50% of the goal in advance gifts, you will be well on your way to success when you launch with a kick-off event. The challenge is maintaining the momentum.
- Fifth, celebrate success. A successful conclusion calls for a celebration and words of appreciation.
- Sixth, it’s not over till it’s over. Evaluate the campaign, record pledge payments (usually over a 3 year period), and identify other projects for the next campaign.
A capital campaign provides a congregation with many benefits: enhance the visibility of the mission and programs, address long-term goals, spiritual growth in generosity, broadens support base, and involve people in new ways.
Advice for parishes
If you have been asked to lead or join the Stewardship Committee in your church, and will be asking people to make an annual pledge or gift, you will find some basic information below to get started. Annual stewardship can be challenging, but very satisfying as you help support the ministries and people in your parish.
What makes people into more generous members of our communities?
- Church attendance and volunteering
- People committed to the central teachings the church
- Greater emphasis on helping others
- Involvement in the parish
- Marital status – especially if spouse attends
- Financial accountability – a feeling of sufficient information
- Enthusiasm for local programs
- Those who plan their gifts (percentage or annual dollar amount)
What do Churches with Successful Stewardship Programs look like?
- Participatory leadership
- Sense of moving forward
- Feeling of lay ownership
- Strong trust in leaders (clergy and lay)
- Full array of programs appealing to all members
Vice-Chancellor Vandenberg’s Presentation on Parish Endowments and the Responsibility of Vestries to Manage them Prudently.First shown at the 2013 Diocesan Convention. To view directly on the diocese’s Vimeo page, click here: https://vimeo.com/79227488.