Stewardship Practices – Common and Best
In the fall of 2011, the Stewardship and Mission Table of the Metro D.C. Synod sent out an online survey to each pastor of the synod, asking them to give us a glimpse of their congregation’s stewardship practices. I want to say thanks to the 50 pastors who answered the survey – roughly two-thirds of the synod’s congregations.
Below are the results from the survey. Our Table felt that knowing some of the practices would show us how we can serve as a helpful resource.
In addition, we will lift up some BEST PRACTICES we’ve learned about in the months to come. This month, we want to focus in on writing a Mission Letter that accompanies a giving update to your members. Bold type in the survey results below indicate a best practice we will be lifting up in future months.
1) Does your congregation prepare a Narrative Budget?
Yes- 40.4% No- 59.6%
2) Do you ask your members to make a financial pledge each year?
Yes- 88% No- 12%
3) If you ask for financial pledges, does everyone in the church get the same letter or do you send different letters?
Same Letter- 86.4% Different Letter 13.6%
4) Do you send Thank You Letters if someone makes a pledge?
Yes- 52.2% No- 47.8%
5) Does your congregation print the weekly giving and expenses in the worship bulletin?
Yes- 26% No- 74%
6 & 7) Do you send “individual giving updates” to your church donors/members during the course of the year? If so, how often?
Monthly 4.2 % (2 churches)
Quarterly 66.1% (31 churches)
Bi-Annual 4.2% (9 churches)
Annual 4.2% (2 churches)
Never 6.4% (3 churches)
8 ) If you send an “individualized giving update” to your members during the year, do you send a Mission Update Letter (i.e. celebrating your ministry in some way)
Yes- 27.7% (13 churches) No- 72.3% (37 churches)
9) Does your congregation offer an electronic giving option?
Yes- 82% (41 churches) No- 18% (9 churches)
BEST PRACTICE: MISSION LETTER
Here’s what we’d like to suggest. Send a well-crafted, brief, one-sided Mission Letter with your giving statement. Many of you already send at least a quarterly giving update, reminding the individual giver how much they have contributed, which is important. Sending other correspondence with it can give donors something more.
1) Speak about your congregation’s mission, how you are changing lives, or some ambitious goal that you are starting to tackle.
2) Be upbeat and hopeful but challenge people to grow in generosity.
3) Use pictures whenever you can as people are drawn to images.
4) Ideally the person writing this should be the one who has the most influence over the mission of the congregation- THE PASTOR or Council President. If you can, initial or sign all of these letters in blue ink. (The extra effort to show your members/donors you care is well worth the extra effort!)
Download this sample Mission Letter (pdf file), “Off to a Good Start,” to see an example of the impact a Mission Letter can have. Also available is a reproducable Survey Results and a Best Practice handout from which this blog post is taken.
Editor’s note: The Rev. Dave Sonnenberg is chair of the synod’s Stewardship and Mission Table