De-bunking Fundraising Myths – Part 7 (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 seventh 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).  Are large givers going to barricade the road we wish to travel down?

As always, we encourage you to leave comments.

Fundraising Myth #7

Myth: Generous givers feel entitled to complain loudly when things do not go their way. They attempt to “hold the congregation hostage” by threatening to eliminate their financial and volunteer support.

Truth: There may be a few generous givers who feel entitled , but not many. Fundraising consultants have an axiom that says, “People who give the most complain the least; those who give the least complain the most.” People are more committed to faith communities when they give joyfully of their aptitudes, abilities, and money (their gifts), when they willingly proclaim the faith community’s good works (their call), and when they participate in the work (spiritual vocation) of their faith community. With few exceptions, the most committed congregants are those who are helpful and supportive to a fault. The people who are vocal obstructionists often lead with their heels, giving little of their gifts, call, or spiritual vocation to their faith community.

‘Secret Ingredient’ in Religion Makes People Happier

The following post has been excerpted from the December 9, 2010 issue of Science Daily and shared with us by stewardship consultant Larry Wheeler. The article supports our long held belief that there is a clear connection between community building and successful annual budget drives; stronger congregational communities create many financially committed donors.

Does your congregation have that secret ingredient?

‘Secret Ingredient’ in Religion Makes People Happier.

While the positive correlation between religiosity and life satisfaction has long been known, a new study in the December issue of American Sociological Review reveals religion’s ‘secret ingredient’ that makes people happier.

“Our study offers compelling evidence that it is the social aspects of religion rather than theology or spirituality that leads to life satisfaction,” said Chaeyoon Lim, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who led the study. “In particular, we find that friendships built in religious congregations are the secret ingredient in religion that makes people happier.” (more…)

“All we ever do is talk about raising money!”

Here’s a short story recently shared by a lay leader. Sound familiar?

“We used to have a lot of fundraisers to help balance our annual budget. Most notably, we ran a fall at-your-service auction and a spring yard sale. After a  while, people got worn out from all the hard work and the excruciating pressure of needing to raise a certain amount of money each time. It got harder and harder to recruit volunteers to run these events.
Then, someone had an epiphany: ‘Not only is this really hard work, but, for the most part, we are just exchanging money among ourselves.’ And then someone estimated the amount of time required to run each fundraiser. It was easy to see that conducting fundraisers to balance an operating budget was not at all cost effective.”

Fundraisers to build community are great. Fundraisers to support external ministries are also great. Using fundraisers to balance an operating budget . . .not so much. (more…)

Stewardship as Spiritual Discipline

A Mini-Sermon by Barry Finkelstein
UUA Congregational Stewardship Consultant
Emerson UU Church, Marietta, GA
November 14, 2010

I am one of the crazy ones – the people who sign up to do stewardship in our churches.  Go around and talk to people about money.  Both in my own church and as one of the Unitarian Universalist Association’s congregational stewardship consultants – which is how I come to be among you this weekend.

When I ask myself why I do this, an image pops immediately into my mind.  An image of one of my former churches – South Church Unitarian Universalist – in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.   We’re in the sanctuary – a beautiful historic sanctuary inside a granite monument of a building – and it’s January 1 2008, a  Tuesday.  On what might have been an ordinary New Year’s Day, the church is filled with people, with energy, with magic.  A beautiful, powerful magic that changed the world. (more…)

De-bunking Fundraising Myths – Part 6 (of 12)

This is the sixth of the twelve part series in de-bunking fundraising myths (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). We’re examining these myths closely to clear-up these false assumptions about giving.

How involved do people want to be when they give the congregation money?

As always, we encourage you to leave comments.

Fundraising Myth #6

Myth: People want to make their contributions without getting involved in the messy decision-making process of the congregation.

Truth: Many want to share their opinions about how the faith community’s internal programs and global ministries are conducted. For some, having an opportunity to provide decision-making input is a tangible benefit of giving. It is a way of investing in the programs and ministries of the faith community.

Is Your Congregation in the Used Car Business?

The following question was recently posted on the UUmoney listserv:
“Is there a best way for a church to receive the donation of a car and turn it into cash?”

While that’s an intriguing question, a better question might be, “Should a church accept donation of a car?”

Ideally, a congregation has anticipated this second question and has written a clear endowment document. This document provides written policies for a planned giving program and clearly describes what types of gifts can be accepted without review and which gifts require approval of the governing body or the entire congregation.

It is especially helpful to outline a procedure for reviewing gifts of real estate, used cars, or other personal assets that may be difficult to sell. Does the congregation really want to be in the business of managing a piece of real estate, or brokering a deal on a donated car, or assessing the value of Aunt Maude’s priceless bric-a-brac? (more…)

Nurturing Young Stewards

UU Society of Sacramento, kids planting a garden

When visiting with different congregations I encourage the leadership to think about how to help the children become good stewards of their faith community. Even the littlest ones can plant a bulb on the grounds and watch it grow over time. By the time they are teens, however, they are able to articulate in joyful and powerful ways what their faith community means in their daily lives. They freely share what they like, what they wish were different and are almost always so willing to help bring about their desired future. Adding teenage youth to your discussions about the future, in your committee meetings, and sitting at the table with the adults is a wonderful way to grow their understanding of stewardship in the fullest possible meaning. Teens also serve as a powerful reminder to adults that their decisions today will impact the next generation.

How is your congregation including youth in their most important discussions? Are they prepared to be givers of time, talent and treasure as they become adults and members?

“The Power of Giving” – Book Review

When many people think back to the best times in our life, often a part of this memory is the experience of giving to another. One of my fondest memories was when I participated in a volunteer trip two years after Hurricane Katrina devastated many parts of New Orleans, LA. Our volunteer group participated in the clean up of both a day care center and a school library. By the end of the week, many of the trip members (including myself) felt this experience to be so profound that it changed our lives forever. In fact, it was so profound for me that it had some weight in my decision to go back to graduate school and pursue my Masters degree in Social Work. So, when I started reading The Power of Giving by Azim Jamal and Harvey McKinnon, memories of experiences in my life where I had given something came back to me, and I was reminded of how impactful the feeling of generosity can be.
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De-bunking Fundraising Myths – Part 5 (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 fifth 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). You may have seen the commercials for Bing about search engine overload, and we may feel that way sometimes but it doesn’t necessarily mean that congregants don’t want to know where their money is going.

As always, we encourage you to leave comments.

Fundraising Myth #5

Myth: Because many people are suffering from information overload, they do not want to know how the congregation is using their contributions.

Truth: May people, although overwhelmed with information in their daily lives, are also well educated and a bit skeptical. They are less likely than previous generations to have blind faith that the congregation is using their money wisely. They want to know that their contributions are making a difference, and they are interested in the facts and figures as well as the narrative that explains the ways that their financial gifts are being used. (Note that this does not necessarily mean they want to see long columns of numbers as found in a detailed line-item budget.)

Vanco Services – how they can help your congregation

In past blog posts we’ve mentioned Vanco Services.  For this post we asked Vanco Services to share some more information about how they can help your congregation and some specific information about their work with UU congregations.

Guest Author, Stephen J. Rose, Director of Marketing, Vanco Services, LLC

As a provider of electronic giving solutions to thousands of churches, Vanco Services, LLC is pleased to share insights we’ve gained over the past 15 years that may be helpful to Unitarian Universalist congregations.

Special challenges

Seasonal donation slump. Donations tend to track closely with the number of weekly worshippers, producing a seasonal donation slump in most congregations. A church’s operating costs and program expenses continue year round but weekly check & cash offerings are erratic and typically taper off after Easter and then drop—often precipitously—during summer months before recovering in the 4th quarter. Vanco data shows an average 43% decline in weekly giving by paper check from Easter to mid-summer.  Even the most dedicated churchgoers miss services. Vacations, illness and weather (good and bad) all enter into the equation. In the fall of 2009, the flu—and even fear of the flu—depressed attendance at services. Late-year snowstorms in 2009 also kept worshippers at home in some areas of the country—a critical development considering most churches receive up to one-third of their annual contributions during the month of December.
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