About (and this is scary to print because some of you weren't even born yet) 30 years ago, I received my first "quarterly statement." Receiving one of these hallowed documents meant that I was giving to a church on a regular basis and they were letting me know just how much I had given over the course of the year.
At the bottom of what looked like a bank statement, there was a hand written note. I thought, "Cool" (because that's the kind of thing I said lo those many years ago), "someone has taken time to write me something." And, there it was. It said something like – and this may or may not be a direct quote - "You are behind on your pledge. Pay up." Wow. As you can imagine, that really tickled my generosity bone.
It doesn't take a PhD in good manners to know that this is not an appropriate thing to write to anyone who is voluntarily giving a donation (I'll leave the collection agencies to deal with everyone else's late payments). How can you make the quarterly statement go from being a lifeless document to one that makes people feel good about their offering or inspires them to think (gasp!) more deeply about generosity? Here are a few ideas:
- Add a thank you letter from someone in your congregation – an adult, kid, child, choir member
- Insert a note from a member describing why he or she believes in tithing
- Have your clergy person write a letter of thanks, with additional information about how the church's vision is being lived out because of the congregation's generosity
- In general,
- Personally sign the letter using an ink color other than black (so that people will know someone actually signed it)
- Add a photo
- Make the notes short and sweet, a third of a page long so that they can easily fit into an envelope
- On the statement itself, have the treasurer or financial secretary write a simple, "Thank you!" at the bottom. Believe me, people will read it.
For some other ideas, read the blog post "I Gave to Your Ministry and All I Got was this Lousy Statement" by Rusty Lewis - who also came up with the t-shirt image.
Start planning now and ask someone to write a short note of thanks that you can add to your next quarterly statement. Go ahead – tickle the generosity bone of your congregation through something as boring as a giving statement. You'll be surprised at the impact.
Cesie Delve Scheuermann, consultant in grant writing and stewardship/development, Oregon-Idaho AC
United Methodist Church Giving is about people working together to accomplish something bigger than themselves. In so doing, we effect change around the world, all in the name of Jesus Christ. To read stories about the generosity of United Methodists click here.