Inspiring Generosity


6 Tips for a Great Christmas Letter

   Perfect for letter writing....hot cocoa and marshmallows.

The music is playing. I love hearing Andy Williams (yes, that Andy Williams) crooning, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” I get misty-eyed listening to Nat King Cole’s, “The Christmas Song.” And I especially love anything Kelly Clarkson or Karen Carpenter want to lyrically tell me about Christmas.
For some of you, Christmas means oh-so-much-work. There are not just regular worship services to plan, but there’s Christmas Eve and the especially dreaded “Christmas. On. Sunday.” I’m exhausted for you.
There’s one more thing to keep on your to do list: the all-important Christmas letter. I write about this every year because:

  • People are expecting a letter from you.
  • People are feeling more generous in December.
  • People want to give at Christmas.
  • People need to be asked to give.

For those who have read my posts about writing year-end letters before, this is your review. If you’re new, this is your primer.
Here are my top tips (I would say “for tots” but that would be taking it too far) as you start writing this all-important letter:
1. Get your head in a spiritual place. Remember why you’re writing the letter. The “above and beyond” gift you’re requesting is (a) benefitting the awesome ministries of your church and (b) a way for your congregation to respond to God’s call to be generous.
2. Be clear about the need. In addition to understanding that the giver gives as a spiritual discipline, it’s also a good idea to let your reader know why your congregation needs their gift. Is there a special ministry you’re trying to fund? A last push to make sure your budget is in the black? A community non-profit that needs your support?
3. Write the letter to one person. Think of your favorite person in your congregation. Picture your Aunt Sally. Imagine good old Tom. Write the letter with that person in mind. Be personable and write like you talk.
4. Make it readable. Time and again, I see letters where the writer is trying to cram every important idea onto one sheet of paper. And when those words scroll over in to the second page? They make the margins smaller and the font goes teeny tiny to make it fit onto one page. Who wants to read that? Two-pages is always my standard. If the story is really compelling? Three-pages is just fine.
5. Address it to a person. If at all possible, have the salutation be to the person who will be reading the letter. “Dear Brother and/or Sister in Christ,” “Dear Friends,” “Dear I Can’t Figure Out Mail Merge” does not have the same impact as reading one’s name in the greeting.
6. Use a signature. There’s nothing sadder than seeing a big bunch of white in between a “God bless” or “With Gratitude,” and a typed in name at the end of a letter. Your church isn’t all that large? Handwrite your name (using a blue pen). Church a little too big for that? Scan your signature and cut and paste it into the white space.
These top tips should get you on your path to a fabulous year-end letter. Want more ideas? Check out some of my old posts:
How’s that Year-End Letter Going?
It’s Not Too Late! Write Your Best Year-End Letter Now
Your Most Important Letter of the Season
And…as usual, my annual Christmas gift to you still stands: Send me a draft of your church’s Christmas letter. I’ll take a look at it and give you some friendly feedback.
Go on now, grab that hot chocolate and cozy up to the fireplace. Maybe it’ll be the Bing Crosby/David Bowie version of the Little Drummer Boy that’ll get you revved up. Whatever it takes…enjoy.

Cesie Delve Scheuermann (pronounced “CC Delv Sherman,” yes, really) is a Stewardship Consultant for the OR-ID Annual Conference. She is also a Senior Ministry Strategist with Horizons Stewardship. For 25 years, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she has helped raise over three million dollars for numerous churches and non-profit organizations. Maybe hearing Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly do a remake of Bing and Bowie’s Little Drummer Boy is more up your alley. You can reach Cesie at inspiringgenerosity@gmail.com or on Facebook or at CesieScheuermann.com and one more…cesieds@horizons.net.
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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.