Gathering in Those Remaining Pledges

Many congregations run their annual campaigns in the early spring.  By now, the hope is that all the pledges are collected by now, forecasting an ample supply of dollars for the next year’s funding goals.  In our ideal scene, the budget presented for congregational vote shimmers with abundance and glows with the promise of all that can be accomplished in the coming months.

However, many stewardship leaders report that after the first flurry of pledge returns, things slow down.  Some household in the congregation are difficult to reach and it can be a challenge to gather in all the remaining pledges to wrap up the campaign and fulfill the budgeted income goals.  Congregation leaders wonder….how can we gather in those remaining pledges?

In his book Ask, Thank, Tell, Charles R. Lane offers the following advice about wrapping up the annual campaign:

  • Have the follow-up plans in place before the campaign begins;
  • Consider having one person of the stewardship team to focus on the follow-up
  • Follow-up should occur quickly, within three weeks after the majority of the pledges are in;
  • Send out letters, campaign info, and pledge cards out with an envelope addressed to the church (stamped can help!) for faster return.
  • Stop the contacts after the follow-up letter to avoid perceptions of badgering, which can do more harm than good.

Other ideas for gathering in the remaining pledges include:

  • Send out two email messages, spaced two weeks apart, followed up with a phone call.
  • Provide campaign and pledge updates on your congregation’s website and social media sites, encouraging people to join in with their pledge.
  • Send out a reminder postcard with information about where to find pledge forms or how to pledge online.
  • Announcements in the orders of service or on Sunday mornings.
  • Put pledge cards in the orders of service or in the pews and invite people to fill them out and put them in the offering plate as it comes by.
  • The Minister, Senior Staff, or Elected Leaders make personal contact with all lapsed major donors to check in and encourage another generous pledge.
  • Scheduling small group social events where conversations about the congregation and how the mission, ministry and programs are funded, with pledging information available.
  • Newsletter updates on the annual campaign and ways people can pledge and contribute their financial support—it’s never too late!
  • Small groups and committees that are active in the congregation may provide a means for communicating about the annual campaign—these leaders can help spread the word.
  • If not already available, consider setting up an online pledge form or giving link on your congregation’s website.
  • Don’t forget to have a ready supply of current information about stewardship and annual pledging on your pamphlet racks, on bulletin boards, and at your visitors table for newcomers.
  • Consider a celebration or community social event to catch people’s attention!  An ice cream social after the service or Sunday Brunch may be an enjoyable way to engage people’s support.

For more ideas on annual stewardship campaigns:

Clark, Wayne B., PhD.  Beyond Fundraising.  2007.  Unitarian Universalist Association.  http://www.uuabookstore.org

Lane, Charles R. Ask, Thank, Tell.  2006.  Augsburg Fortress.  www.augsburgfortress.org

50 Ways to Improve Your Annual Stewardship: http://www.churchleadership.com/pdfs/50Ways/50_Ways_Annual_Stewardship.pdf