Set Your Generosity Priorities – Part 1
1. Thank people who gave a first time or unexpected Christmas or year-end gift. If you haven’t done it yet, do it now. It’s actually a little late, but better late than never. I was reminded of this on Friday when I had two people from two states tell me that they had NOT been thanked by a church where they had given a recent donation. After texting me about this, one friend sheepishly wrote, “…I realized that I shouldn’t give in order to be thanked.” I wanted to reply ever so sarcastically, “Oh Puhleezz.” But instead (trying to follow my anti-sarcasm New Year’s resolution), I acknowledged his guilt by saying, “That’s true but churches shouldn’t just expect gifts without acknowledging them…A ‘thank you’ helps promote generosity. And it’s easy.” Go find those new or unexpected Christmas donors and thank them.
2. Schedule a day, every week, when you will write four gratitude notes. These notes can be to people in your congregation or community. They don’t need to be long or complicated. A brief, heartfelt note of thanks for the time, talent, and/or treasure of a particular person will make you feel good and will undoubtedly be a welcome and treasured surprise for the recipient. Just think, over the course of a year 208 people could get a gratitude note from you. Awesome!
3. Every Sunday (yes, every Sunday), plan to thank your congregation for being generous and for supporting ministries that make a difference. For a few of you who are struggling financially, this may be hard to do – but do it anyway. Dig down and find ways to thank people. Thank them for making your building available to the community. Thank them for providing a way for people to grow spiritually. Thank them for singing with gusto. Thank them for supporting ministries outside the walls of the church. Over the course of 52 weeks, you will help your congregation know that God indeed, “loves a cheerful giver” because what they give brings joy to and matters in the lives of real people.
Those are the generosity priorities for week one. Next week, come back to see a sample (and trust me, simple) stewardship calendar that you can use to keep your generosity priorities right on track. This is a New Year…let’s embrace the newness and fresh start that we’ve been given. It’s a gift; let’s not waste it.
Cesie Delve Scheuermann (pronounced “CC Delv Sherman,” yes, really) is a consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing. Over the past fifteen years, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she helped raise over three million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. She resolves to switch from ice cream to gelato. She was the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference Lay Leader from 2008-2012. Her position with the Conference is funded through a generous grant from the Collins Foundation. She is available to consult with churches. You can reach her at email@example.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/inspiringgenerosity.
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Cesie Delve Scheuermann is consultant in grant writing and stewardship/development working with the Conference. From 2008-12 she was the Conference Lay Leader for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference.