Giving Statements: From Boring to Wow!


Giving Statements: From Boring to Wow!
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.  “Cool (because that’s the kind of thing I said lo those many years ago). Someone has taken the time to write me something.”  And, there it was.  It said something like – and this may or 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).  So, 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, or choir member (for an example of a child’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.

In general,

  • Make the note short and sweet, a third of a page can be long enough and easily slips into an envelope. 
  • Add a photo.
  • Personally sign the letter.  Use a pen color other than black so that people will know someone actually signed it and that it wasn't copied.

On the bottom of the statement itself, have the treasurer or financial secretary simply write, “Thank you!”  People will read it.    

For some other ideas, take a look at 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 hilarious, cringe-worthy, and spot-on t-shirt pictured above.

Start planning now and ask someone to write a short note of thanks that you can add to your fall quarterly statement.  Go ahead – tickle the generosity bone of your congregation through something as boring as a giving statement.  You just might be surprised by the wow factor it produces.
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.

Cesie Delve Scheuermann is a consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing. Over the past decade, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she helped raise over $2 million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. She served as the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference Lay Leader from 2008-2012.  Somehow, she has found it in her heart this year to forgive the person who wrote the nasty note on her giving statement 30 years ago. Her position with the Conference is funded through a generous grant from the Collins Foundation. You can reach her at inspiringgenerosity@gmail.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.