Inspiring Generosity


Steal This Letter! Christmas Edition

It's not too early to think about Christmas!

Technology is not my friend. My spouse and I test drove a new car on Friday and it stopped working. We had to get a loaner to get back to the dealer. Yesterday, I was on the phone (I kid you not) for FOUR hours trying to get a “simple” phone problem fixed (and it wasn’t fixed). After that, I had to mail in my computer for repair. And to top it all off, as I was watching the terrible/awful show “The Bachelorette” last night because someone has to, the TV stopped working. Well, that last one may have been a sign from the Lord about my viewing habits. Just a guess.
But why fret about technology? It’s Christmas letter time!
Earlier this year, I offered up a sample “ask” COVID-19 letter for you to adapt to your congregation/organization. It was wildly popular. So, I’ve created a new letter that you can use at your discretion for your Christmas appeal. There’s really no need for everyone to re-create the wheel. Amirite? If you’re super excited about this – like I am – you can access the letter here.
There’s a bonus – the Northwest United Methodist Foundation has created a one-page piece outlining all the COVID year-end tax advantages. People are motivated to give for a variety of reasons, so I highly recommend that you include this with your year-end letter. You can access that document here.
While I have included some of these same tips in my sample letter, let me highlight the more important things you should remember:
1. Be positive, be realistic. No one wants to read about how the “ship is going down.” Even if it is, you can write about how blue the water is from up close. Get yourself in a good frame of mind before you begin writing or editing your letter. However, you also want to let people know about the need.
2. Be clear, be specific. Don’t use the vague, “your gift makes ministry possible,” highlight a few of those ministries and write about the lives that are being changed as a result. Let people know if there is a shortfall and by how much. Challenge them to help meet the need.
3. Make your letter readable. Scrunching your important words onto one page in 10-point font with half-inch margins is a sure way to have someone toss the letter aside to “read later” (which could mean never). Embrace the notion that your letter will be two pages, use (at minimum) a 12-point font with one-inch margins all around. Consider bolding certain phrases for people who like to skim letters (count me as one).
4. Make it easy to give. This is not about your letter, per se, but it will impact the response you get from it.
- Include an addressed envelope (it’s not necessary to put postage on it).
- Consider a response card for people who want to give using a credit card (but who don’t want to use your website).
- Use the response card as an opportunity to connect. Ask a simple question or two. For example, “What do you miss most about church?” or “Tell us your favorite church-related Christmas memory.”
-  Include information in your letter reminding people that they can give on-line. 
- Don’t have on-line giving? It’s really, really time to invest the time and money to make that happen. It’s not a fad.
Your Christmas letter can be uplifting even as you outline the needs of your congregation or organization. You know why? Because you are in the business of transforming lives through the power of faith. Not many people can say that. It’s something to celebrate, especially as we honor the One whose birth we remember. Joy to the World!
P.S. As always, my Christmas gift to you is an offer to review (and edit) your year-end letter. You can send it to InspiringGenerosity@gmail.com.

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’s trying to be very Zen about her lack of control over technology. “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.” She’s not very satisfied with that, but for now, it’s her new mantra. You can reach her at inspiringgenerosity@gmail.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/inspiringgenerosity or at CesieScheuermann.com.
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Cesie Delve Scheuermann
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.