An oddly true & funny t-shirt by Rusty Lewis
About (and this is scary to print because some of you weren’t even born yet) 30 years ago, I received my first “quarterly statement.” Receiving one of these hallowed documents meant that I was giving to a church on a regular basis and they were letting me know just how much I had given over the course of the year.
At the bottom of what looked like a bank statement, there was a hand written note. I thought, “Cool” (because that’s the kind of thing I said lo those many years ago), "someone has taken time to write me something.” And, there it was. It said something like – and this may or may not be a direct quote - “You are behind on your pledge. Pay up.” Wow. As you can imagine, that really tickled my generosity bone.
It doesn’t take a PhD in good manners to know that this is not an appropriate thing to write to anyone who is voluntarily giving a donation (I’ll leave the collection agencies to deal with everyone else’s late payments). How can you make the quarterly statement go from being a lifeless document to one that makes people feel good about their offering or inspires them to think (gasp!) more deeply about generosity? Here are a few ideas:
- Add a thank you letter from someone in your congregation – an adult, kid, child, choir member (for an example of a kid’s letter click here)
- Insert a note from a member describing why he or she believes in tithing (for an inspiring example, see the letter from Melissa here)
- Have your clergy person write a letter of thanks, with additional information about how the church’s vision is being lived out because of the congregation’s generosity
- Personally sign the letter using an ink color other than black (so that people will know someone actually signed it)
- Add a photo
- Make the notes short and sweet, a third of a page long so that they can easily fit into an envelope
On the statement itself, have the treasurer or financial secretary write a simple, “Thank you!” at the bottom. Believe me, people will read it.
For some other ideas, read the blog post “I Gave to Your Ministry and All I Got was this Lousy Statement” by Rusty Lewis - who also came up with the t-shirt pictured above.
Start planning now and ask someone to write a short note of thanks that you can add to your next quarterly statement. Go ahead – tickle the generosity bone of your congregation through something as boring as a giving statement. You’ll be surprised at the impact.
What have you done to spice up your quarterly giving statements? Let me know and I’ll list some additional ideas in a future blog.
This blog was originally posted on August 13, 2014.