A semi-random photo of Lady Bird Johnson
‘Tis the movie season so I’m trying to see the ones that have O.S.C.A.R. written all over them. I’m going to promote the now-on-DVD – “Get Out” (again)...plus add “Lady Bird” to the list. “Lady Bird,” rated “R”, is not (spoiler alert) a documentary about the former first lady. It is about a quirky high school senior trying to navigate teen love and relationships with her mom and best friend. Here’s the bonus: it has a positive view of faith and the Catholic school Lady Bird attends. It’s sweet, funny, and touching (I needed three hankies). Go see it. Now, on to this week’s post.
Last week we covered the all-important year-end letter. A key part of that letter is letting people know where their money is going. Nicholas Kristof recently published his annual “gifts with meaning” column in the New York Times. This year Kristof focused on encouraging people to give to the following projects: deworming a child, pulling decaying teeth, fixing a clubfoot, fighting ethnic cleansing, testing for cancer, and giving a bed net to fight malaria. After reading the snippets about each opportunity, who wouldn’t be ready to give?
The same can be said for the projects or programs that you might promote for special gifts this Christmas season. Your mission – if you choose to accept it – is to determine an effective way of telling the story of the project or program you want to see funded. Some folks take a special offering on Christmas Eve or during the Advent season to give to the community, to the church, or internationally (think of the well-known Sudan Project started during Advent 2004 by Ginghamsburg UMC, $7.1 million raised and counting). It’s a great way to encourage more generosity.
Wherever you choose to focus your special giving, here are a few tips:
1. Make it known: Start with the notion that people want to give, they just need to know the need. They can’t know the need unless you tell them.
2. Make it compelling: Let’s just say, “paying the electric bill” is not compelling. But, “making the community feel welcome because the building is open and inviting” is something people can support.
3. Make it concrete: “We want to provide 75 chickens for a village in El Salvador.” This makes the project real and not abstract.
4. Make it a stretch: People like to think big. “Last year we provided 20 nights of shelter for one person at our local homeless shelter. Through this offering our goal is to provide 25 nights of shelter. I think we can do it.”
5. Make it inspirational: Let folks know that their offering will change lives. In particular, let them know how one specific life will be different because of their generosity. Don’t skimp on the impact.
The church, for all its faults and failures, is still the one institution in our country that provides an incredible amount of financial support for an array of (mostly secular) local and international projects and programs. This is the time to let people know just how valuable their gifts are to the community and to the world. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to share the good news.
P.S. My offer is still good! If you want me to take a look at your year-end letter, send it on to me at InspiringGenerosity@gmail.com.