Respond to Givers, Encourage Giving
Glen Chase and I have been talking about encouraging giving. He makes an important point that some of us seem to miss: The church is one worthy organziation among many seeking charitiable gifts. A lot of those other organizations do a much better job of encouraging additional giving.
A simple way to encourage giving is to recognize the gifts we receive. I think this is especially true of other than usual gifts. For instance, a congregation helps a non-member family at a moment of crisis. The family gives the congregation a $1,000 thank you. The gift is acknowledged, they're told what great things will be done with the gift. Ongoing contact is maintained with the family. Down the road the family likes a program that is coming up. Another gift is given. (This happened in a congregation I served.)
I'm not talking about pandering to people. I'm talking about being gracious -- saying thank you. I'm talking about taking the opportunity to tell someone who has been generous about the importance of what my church is doing. I want them to know that what they did is important and that they are appreciated. I want them to know that this is a good place to invest in the work of God's realm -- even if they don't think of it as the work of the realm, but simply that we are doing something they think is important too.
Do you have a protocol in your organization by which donors are thanked; your mission is stated; and their additional support is welcomed and encouraged?
I'm a recently retired Pastor so our family has no church affiliation. Our giving is to the Lord, so we've looked at other than congregations to continue our giving. Here's two effective ways offering recipients have responded to us.
- Lutheran Disaster Relief sent a thank you letter, stated the amount of our gift and featuring current areas of need and how they are working there. At the bottom of this letter was this smiple sentence: "Remember LDR in your will." There was an addresed envelope enclosed by which I could send additional gifts.
- Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary did about the same thing. Thank you for your gift of ____. " They went on to talk about what excitement there was on campus with the incoming class. I know the writer of the letter. On the bottom of the page was a brief personal note.
Our Synod is in process of developing a protocol when a gift is received. Out of the conversation with Glen I came up with some questions I think should be considered. I invite your comments about them -- what would you add? -- leave out? What has worked or NOT worked for you? Here's my questions:
- Who handles money, especially unique or unusual giving, that comes into the organization?
- What sorts of red flags, alarms, trip wires should be in place to set in motion the kind of response we are talking about?
- What does the IRS require when gifts come in at a certain amount . . .
- What is the amount?
- What language is required?
- Does the amount have to be listed?
- What sorts of things should be in the letter/note/phone call/email that's going to go out?
- personal note?
- personal note attached?
- an additional addressed giving envelope?
- naming a specific ministry that is being featured?
- LDR simply has a line at the bottom of their thank you letter "Remember LDR in your will." Is there a way to include something like this?
- Who and how do you decide if it should be a letter or a more personal contact?