Changing Times: Technology & Stewardship

What is the current state of charitable giving? 

There are definite signs of improvement in the U.S. economy, yet the effects of the recent recession appear to be lingering with regard to giving to religious and other charitable organizations.  In light of our tightening family budgets, we must be more resourceful, efficient, and responsive than ever in our stewardship practices.

What trends are affecting us? 

Technology presents new challenges alongside immense potential benefits.  With the heightened use of the Internet and the advent of social networking, there is an increasing dependence on computer and smart phone technology.  The changes in online communication and information sharing are happening at a startlingly rapid pace and we must adapt our practices in order to keep in step with these ever-evolving changes.

What must we remember?  

Giving is about relationships.  Fundraising and stewardship are about giving, and therefore, attention must be focused on our relationships as a multigenerational community. Generosity springs from the heart.  It is not a rational matter, but a relational
matter – an emotional response to that which inspires and motivates.

Why do we give generously to our congregation? 

First, we give as individuals who are grateful to be part of a faith community.  We care deeply about the principles and religious values , and in affirmation of the congregation’s mission, ministries, and programs that make a difference in our lives, and in local communities and society at large.  We give because our congregations and our religion are worthy of our deepest commitment and greatest generosity.

How might we respond to these trends and priorities?

  • Increase online visibility—our congregation’s website must be visually
    appealing, with content that reflects the mission, values, and ways that people
    of all ages can be involved.  Include a compelling message about the importance of stewardship and means for online pledging and/or giving.
  • Make use of electronic communication and social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter to promote our congregation.  Email, electronic newsletters, blogs, and social networking are the primary means of communication for younger generations, and increasingly so among middle and older adults.
  • Establish or develop a planned giving program. With the current shift in generational giving patterns and the significant transference of wealth underway, it is important to help our congregants leave a legacy.
  • Budget for growth and advancement, not maintenance and decline—to align our budget to reflect our congregation’s mission, values, priorities, ministries, and programs.

I am interested in hearing how you and your congregation or organization are navigating the new technology trends to keep your relationships and giving levels strong.