Recognizing First-Time Givers


Recognizing First-Time Givers

What’s that?  You notice there’s something different in your offering plate.  The new family who has been attending your church for the past month or two has written their first check to your church.  How are you going to respond to such a gift?  For most congregations, it’s with silence.  

But, that’s definitely not how it has to be.  Nelson Searcy in Maximize – How to Develop Extravagant Givers in Your Church suggests sending a “first-time givers” letter.   The letter is important because it:

-    Recognizes and appreciates that a gift has been given
-    Gives you an opportunity to reiterate the mission of your congregation
-    Assures the giver that you know how to appropriately handle their money
-    Lets you write a personal note of thanks

There is no set formula for how this letter should look but here’s one example.

In addition, here are a few guidelines you should follow to make your letter as effective as possible:

1.    Include a picture
2.    Address the letter to a real person (as opposed to “Dear Friend”)
3.    Put it on letterhead
4.    Personally sign it (be sure to use a different color pen so it’s clear that it’s not copied)
5.    Write an additional note of gratitude.

Don’t miss a great opportunity to reach out to someone who may be making a leap of faith by giving.  Go ahead and write that letter. And, really, don’t be too shocked when you see new gifts in your offering plates.  Rejoice, and recognize those first-time givers.

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 nearly $2 million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations.  She served as the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference Lay Leader from 2008-2012.  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.