"But You Quit Asking."
“But You Quit Asking.”
Dennis Skley, Creative Commons, Flicker
Last week I received an excited call from a new Executive Director of a local non-profit. You could hear it in her voice that something good had happened. “You’ll never guess! We received a check for $1,000 today – out of the blue!”
Like the diligent taskmaster that I can be, I immediately said,
“Did you call to thank him?”
And, of course, she - being the very smart and well-mannered person I know her to be - had already called him. In the course of their conversation she asked him what had motivated him to give. And his response just about knocked her over:
“Well, I used to give all the time. But you quit asking.”
When my friend did a search, she found out that at one point this person used to give $5,000-$6,000 on a regular basis. “But you quit asking.”
For the first time in years, this wonderful non-profit sent a year-end appeal letter in December. The new Executive Director sends out a regular e-newsletter that always, in a very upbeat way, reminds people that their donations are needed and wisely used. They started asking again. And because they asked, donations increased by 34% in the first five months of 2015 over what had been earned in all of 2014.
No doubt, every week you do ask your congregation to give. But, this is why the annual stewardship campaign is essential in so many congregations. It’s your opportunity to ask people to make a formal and important step in their faith journey. Even more important, it’s your chance to positively tell your church’s story and outline a compelling vision for the coming year. An excellent stewardship campaign program will get your congregation talking about the spiritual good that comes from tithing and about what God is calling them to do to impact the lives of people inside and outside the church.
So keep that surprise $1,000 check and that phrase, “But you quit asking,” in the back of your mind when you feel awkward, or scared, or afraid you’ll offend when you talk to someone about money. Believe that people want to give and make sure you provide them a reason and opportunity to do so.
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 $2.5 million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. She is waiting patiently by her mailbox for the $1,000 check to arrive. 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; she is available to consult with churches in Oregon and Idaho. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.