Inspiring Generosity


Don’t Bury the Lead

                            Don't bury the lead.   Chad Horwedel @flickr.com

Friends, I can hardly believe it, my dear little girl is 24 today. In her honor, I’m going to bake a dog cake.

This will no doubt go in the annals of cake-baking history along with my famous monkey cake, owl cake, and, the forever infamous, “I’ve had a little too much to drink,” Barbie cake (stand up straight, Barbie! Stand up!).

Please pray that the dog cake doesn’t end up looking like a blob of dead gray squirrel. Thanks!
Because of my need to go all Great British Bake-Off today, I’m going to try and keep this short and sweet:
Don’t bury the lead.

What do I mean? When you’re writing your stewardship, Christmas, or year-end appeal letter, be clear with your reader from the get-go why you’re writing to them.
And why are you writing? It’s the first thing you need to determine. In all likelihood, you’re asking for a financial gift. That’s great. Really! Own it. You’ve got to feel OK about asking someone to fund an organization, congregation, or ministry that you love; one that you feel passionately about.
Get to the point early in your letter: you need funds.
I have read many a letter where I have no idea – until perhaps the very last paragraph – that my financial support is needed to keep vital services going. In fact, sometimes it feels like a “bait and switch” has occurred. There are lots of thanks (not a bad thing) and lovely, fluffy words in the middle and then WHAM. Time to get to the purpose of the letter in the very last paragraph: would you send a gift?
No doubt, you’ve been told that asking for money should be awkward (despite the fact we have advertisers and sophisticated non-profits doing it ad nauseum 24/7). You’ve been taught that we should be embarrassed to ask for money directly. As a result, you obfuscate and write around the elephant in the letter.
But let’s go back to how you feel about your congregation or the people who receive your services:

  • You know what you do is important.
  • You know what you do is necessary.
  • You know what you do is life-giving.
  • And you know it takes money to make it happen.

So, when you write your letter asking for financial assistance for something you feel passionately about, don’t bury the lead.
In the next few weeks, I’ll be posting my semi-annual “Steal This Letter – Christmas Edition.” I’ll be working to practice what I preach. But if I bury the lead, I know that you’ll let me know.

Then again, if this dog cake thing works out, who knows? I might have a whole new career ahead of me. Stay tuned.

Cesie Delve Scheuermann (pronounced “CC Delv Sherman,” yes, really) is a consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing. For nearly 25 years, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she helped raise over three million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. She’s a little worried that her cake might turn out like one of these. You can reach Cesie 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.