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Black Friday…Cyber Monday…Giving Tuesday…December 2nd

As we enter the busy season of holiday shopping and spending, it is easy to lose sight of our desire to be generous with those we love and the causes we care about the most. We get swept up in the frenzy of commercial marketing and in being a consumer.

#GivingTuesday is a refreshing alternative to spending. It focuses on our natural inclination to be generous and contribute to the organizations that are making a positive difference in world.

In a recent webinar hosted by Donor Perfect, it was reported that online giving to nonprofit organizations participating in Giving Tuesday 2013 were up by 19%, about twice that of organizations not participating. And, participating organizations saw similar increases in average gift amounts.

With this level of success in just a couple of years, every charitable organization should take notice and join this  global movement. 

Joining Giving Tuesday does require an investment in time and energy on the part of organizations. It is largely an online fundraising effort, so your organization will need to ready your website and mobilize your constituents and social networks to maximize the opportunity.

The #GivingTuesday website has lots of great resources to get you started, and you can track activities and trends through the hashtag on social media. If you are a smaller charitable or faith community, you may be interested in the suggested communication strategy I have developed for my clients: http://wp.me/P1xUUk-1qx

Together we can Dream Big and Give Big this season!

Laurel 2012

 

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RESOURCES to help your UU congregation or organization raise funds:

Faithify:  http://vimeo.com/94507174

A Prayer for Remembrance and Thanks

Spirit of Life, fall afresh upon our community today. Make us a people who remember, who give thanks, who bless and are blessed, and who dare to dream the beautiful dream of justice, healing, and peace that our hearts long for.

We remember our mothers and fathers in faith who listened to your call and worked to build this faith community with a wide and loving heart. We remember those whose generosity built our churches, whose vision saw beyond their own horizons, whose hearts and hands toiled in the vineyard of good works, works of justice and peace.

Make new, we pray, our practice each day of compassion and justice close to home and around the world; renew our hunger for peace in a world marked by violence and grief; strengthen the commitment of our leaders to speak truth to power and to work with those who shape our public life so that together we will build a more just society for all of your children.

We give thanks for the gifts of ministry and for ministry. Lift up and inspire the shepherds who care for our flock and the leaders who serve faithfully, quietly, joyfully, day in and day out.

Give us the energy and foresight of the gentle but persistent gardener who sees the rich harvest in the smallest of seeds: may our churches flourish, large and small, old and new.

Prosper the work of our hands, so that, moment by moment and day by day, in every generation and every age, we will be salt, we will be light, we will be leaven in this world you love so well.    Blessed Be.

Adapted by Laurel Amabile from a reading by The Rev. Kate Huey, United Church of Christ, with permission generously granted by the author.      Sept 21, 2011

Ecumenical Stewardship Center:  http://www.stewardshipresources.org/

There’s No Better Time for Good Stewardship

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There are times in the life a congregation when giving and cash flow takes a dip. When this happens, leaders get alarmed, panic sets in, and the wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth begins. The temptation is to take quick action to alert the congregants about “the budget crisis” and urge everyone to give more money immediately to mitigate the distressing circumstances. If that doesn’t work, the budget slashing begins. The leaders’ impulse, of course, springs from their dedication to the congregation and a strong sense of duty to maintain its financial health and well-being.

I have observed this pattern many times….

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Resist those reactive impulses. Slow down. Gather more information about the circumstances affecting the congregation’s bottom line. Take a more strategic and thoughtful approach.

In his latest book, The Church Money Manual, church consultant and author of several excellent books on stewardship, J. Clif Christopher provides guidance to clergy and lay leaders, based on years of experience and insight.

Here are the highlights of Christopher’s wise advice:

  • Gather membership, attendance and giving data from several years back to the present so that you have a better view of the facts.
  • Notice any fluctuations in the giving patterns, exploring any circumstances that may explain the rises or dips. Were there fewer Sundays this year in September than last year?  Did storms force a closing or lower attendance last winter? Were there special events two years ago that drew more families?
  • Attend to relationships, noticing if you have not been seeing some of your loyal attendees or highest contributing members. Rather than speculate on the reasons why, make contact with these folks and find out what is going on for them.  Are there hurt feelings, misunderstandings, or pastoral needs? Ask for their honest feedback, and listen with care.
  • Clarify the congregation’s mission, purposes, and priorities. People give to an inspiring mission and vision for the future, so convey it in visible and engaging ways.
  • Once your leadership team has compiled and assessed your findings, formulate a stewardship strategy for communicating with the congregation and individual donors using time-proven approaches outlined in all of Christopher’s and most fundraising books.

Seek always to align your congregation’s mission, message, and relationships–and the resources will flow!

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