It all comes down to making a compelling case

Quite often, I receive phone calls from congregational lay leaders who want to explore various techniques to ask congregants for annual financial commitments. Our experience has been that there are a number of techniques that can be implemented as an alternative to a stewardship conversation-oriented annual budget drive. Beyond Fundraising provides descriptions of several techniques, including commitment Sundays, cottage meetings, annual congregational dinners, faith promises, pony express, telephone conversations, and direct mail appeals.

We have found, however, that the technique is not nearly as important as making a compelling case. Congregants will make financial commitments if they understand the significance of their gift . . . what difference it will make. In this era, the successful annual budget drive requires that congregants understand the connection between their gift and the vision/mission/ministry of their congregation.

I welcome stories about successful annual budget drives that you have conducted. How did you ‘make the case’? What technique did you use? How did you define success (beyond meeting your financial goal)? How many lay leaders were involved in the drive?

Financial Stewardship Campaign Case Statement – Chapel Hill, NC

Making a compelling case is one of the most important elements to a sucessful annual budget drive or capital campaign.  Congregants want to know “what difference will my contribution make?”  So when a congregation is preparing for an annual budget drive or capital campaign its extremely important to take the time to draft a compelling case statement about what can/will happen when the annual budget drive or captial campaign goal is met.  Congregational Stewardship Consultant, Frankie Price Stern, shares with us this Financial Stewardship Campaign Case Statement from the Community Church of Chapel Hill, UU, her home congregation.

“How Will We Love This World?
2010 Financial Stewardship Campaign
Community Church of Chapel Hill, UU
Case Statement

Transformational love is at the heart of our faith and history as Unitarian Universalists and as members and friends of the Community Church of Chapel Hill:
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Give So That Giving Transforms Your Life

The Reverend Mary McKinnon Ganz, Minister of Community Building at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington, VA (UUCA) is leaving that ministry to go to another congregation in Massachusetts. Here is her wonderful final sermon at UUCA.

Reverend Mary McKinnon Ganz

I post it here, not because it mentions my name, but for the reason that it speaks beautifully about the true faith it requires in our congregations to set aside our pessimism and bring our “wild hopes” of things being different. It speaks to the risk of truly living out our values and fully stepping into our engagement with the world. She makes the connections beautifully between believing in our congregations, investing in those hopes, and enacting them with stewardship. Rev. McKinnon Ganz truly preaches about stewardship with love. Enjoy:

Last Words: View from the Tightrope
by Rev. Mary McKinnon Ganz June 13, 2010

CENTERING WORDS:

deeper is life than lose:higher than have
~ e.e. cummings

Only connect!
~ E.M. Forster
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De-bunking Fundraising Myths – Part 2 (of 12)

We’ve all heard myths about fundraising.  These often lead us to do the exact opposite of what we should be doing to raise money.  We’ll be running a twelve part series de-bunking fundraising myths to take a close look at these false assumptions about giving.

This is the second in the series and we will run one each month (if you can’t wait to a year to read all of them you can purchase the book Beyond Fundraising: A Complete Guide to Congregational Stewardship and read them in Chapter 1: The Spiritual Roots of Stewardship).  Just because people say that it is true and have repeated it over time does not mean that it is the truth much like the existence of a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

As always, we encourage you to leave comments.

Fundraising Myth #2

Myth: Because baby boomers (those born just after World War II) are generally self-centered, materialistic, and achievement-driven, they do not give much money to faith communities or other charities. Furthermore, they do not have the time to offer their call or spiritual vocation to their congregations.

Truth: Research conducted in 1994 by the Barna Research Group indicates that baby boomers were the most generous generation of the twentieth century. Barna states, “If we compare their giving to that of prior generations when those people were the same age, boomers emerge as more generous.” His research indicates that boomers might be willing to give more to faith communities if furnished with sufficient motivation to do so. It is the “show me what difference my contribution will make” mindset of many boomers that often frustrates older congregational leaders. In contrast, these older congregants come from a generation that sees giving as an obligation and an expectation. When older leaders fail to understand the motivation of boomers, they are unsuccessful at raising money from boomers and often unsuccessful at recruiting them for leadership roles.

Does this sound familiar? (Endowment Fund Question)

“[My congregation] does not have a coherent policy regarding earmarked gifts, special funds, special fundraising etc… We also have a history of programs raising their own funds as well as some history of people who participate in just one aspect of church life not pledging to the whole stewardship campaign but contributing to their favorite program, if at all…”

That statement has been excerpted from a current discussion on the UU-Money email list.  The following information might be helpful if your congregation has experienced the same dilemma.

Sample Endowment Investment and Distribution Policy

A. General

  1. The Endowment Fund Committee shall invest the assets of the endowment with the objective of earning an average total return of 8 to 12 percent consistent with moderate risk.  The Committee shall endeavor to invest the assests of the endowment in a socially responsible manner. It is intended that reasonable restrictions placed on any gift by the donor will be faithfully followed, subject to the Committee’s determination of the integrity and best intersts of the endowment.
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Congregational Stewardship at GA

The Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations’  49th Annual General Assembly in Minneapolis, Minnesota is only 20 days away.

General Assembly, GA, is our yearly meeting of congregations where we come together “to take part in the governance of our Association, to build together a vision for its future, to learn from each other, to work, talk, play, and imagine together, to grow together” (from the opening of the General Assembly Program). 

Congregational Stewardship Services traditionally has a presence at GA.  Wayne Clark and Robin Nelson (Director and Program Manager, respectively, for Congregational Stewardship Services) will be attending, leading workshops, meeting with leaders, staffing “the booth”, and available at GA.  Additionally, some of the Congregational Stewardship Services consultants will be at GA.  Notably, Mark Ewert, will be co-leading a workshop #3009 Stewardship as Authentic Presence with Dr. Sharon Groves as well as leading a discussion group

For a complete listing of all of Congregational Stewardship Services offerings at GA:

Congregational Stewardship Services is part of the larger Staff Group called Congregational Life.  As such, we will be in the Congregational Life “booth” #642 in the Exhibit Hall.  If you have questions for us you can stop by “the booth” and leave a message for us and we’ll be sure to get back to you as soon as we can. 

See you at GA!

De-bunking Fundraising Myths – Part 1 (of 12)

We’ve all heard myths about fundraising.  These often lead us to do the exact opposite of what we should be doing to raise money.  We’ll be running a twelve part series de-bunking fundraising myths to take a close look at these false assumptions about giving.

This is the first of the series and we will run one each month (if you can’t wait to a year to read all of them you can purchase the book Beyond Fundraising: A Complete Guide to Congregational Stewardship and read them in Chapter 1: The Spiritual Roots of Stewardship).  Just because people say that it is true and have repeated it over time does not mean that it is the truth much like the existence of unicorns.

As always, we encourage you to leave comments.

Myths About Giving #1

Myth: Those in low-income households don’t have money to contribute, so they offer their time instead.

Truth: The myth that people contribute money or time has been disproved. Recent research by Ian Evison, formerly of the Alban Institute, shows that, in general, financial contributions follow an investment of time. Those who give more time also give more money. In addition, anecdotal observations by fundraising consultants indicate that people with limited income often contribute a higher percentage of that income than those with larger incomes.

Furry Vengeance – Film Review

Recently, I was approached by an individual from the company Different Drummer, a Fan-mobilization agency, about attending a premiere of the movie Furry Vengeance. I took this opportunity and ran with it as I was interested to see how big a role the theme of sustainability and respect for the environment would play in it. Additionally, I was intrigued by the fact that there was a campaign running simultaneously with the release of the film. The campaign, as their website states “will focus on the importance of endangered species and habitat preservation. A customized package including activities and materials, distributed to elementary students nationwide, will engage and educate future environmentalists. It will offer tools and opportunities for students to explore the natural areas of their communities and develop skills and deeper knowledge of habitat and animal protection issues.”

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New Orleans Congregations Still Need Your Help

New Orleans is back in the news again. Unfortunately there’s the possibility of yet another disaster in the Gulf Coast region. While our attention is starting to focus on a potentially catastrophic off-shore oil spill, three Unitarian Universalist congregations continue to struggle with the after-effects of Hurricane Katrina.

The following short video is being shared because so many of you remain concerned about these three UU congregations. Take a look at what they have already accomplished. Make a commitment to help in their ongoing struggle.

Does Your Congregation Have a Healthy Distribution of Financial Commitments?

Have you ever wondered if your congregation’s distribution of financial commitments (annual pledges) is healthy? Because so many lay leaders have asked that question, the UUA stewardship consultants created a chart that illustrates a healthy distribution of financial commitments:

The first 25% of total dollars is coming from the first 10% of the household donors
The second 25% of total dollars is coming from 15% of the donors
The third 25%of total dollars is coming from 35% of the donors
The final 25% of total dollars is coming from the last 40% of household donors

We believe that this distribution is healthy and we recognize that it is not the norm. We encourage congregations to use this distribution as a guide, not as the one and only answer to healthy finances.

Over the years, we have consulted with many congregations in serious financial trouble because they were overly dependent on a few household donors in the first quartile of giving. If 10 percent of household donors contribute the first 25 percent of total giving, a congregations is not too vulnerable if a top donor moves away, reallocates their financial commitments to other causes, or dies without having left a bequest to the congregation. On the other hand, if only 5 percent of household donors contribute the first 25 percent of total giving, a congregation will have a serious financial problem if a top donor ceases to contribute financial commitments.
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