Cultivating a Culture of Generosity All Summer Long

As we move into the weeks of the Summer Diaspora, it is a good time to think creatively about a few ways to sustain your congregation’s stewardship efforts, keeping them strong and visible over the next three months.

The participants in the UU Stewardship Lab, a Facebook Group, came up with a few ideas to get our creative juices flowing….

One stewardship leader reports, “The trick to keeping stewardship going over the summer is to make it about being together. Stewardship means caring, and the most important part of caring for our congregation is caring about our fellow congregants. When we do this properly people feel wanted. They know that we really care for them, and they for us. Then the financial part kind of takes care of itself.”

“We’re planning on keeping the ‘Why I pledge’ pulpit testimonials going through the summer. We’re also going to work with the Membership team to discuss annual giving at the classes for new members,”  said another stewardship leader.

“I’ll tell you the great idea our minister (Rev. Chris Bell, UU Congregation of Santa Rosa, CA) proposed: no committee meetings in July. Everybody takes a break at the same time (except Worship Associates, volunteers at our weekly breakfast for the homeless, etc.),” Ellen Skagerberg explains, “which means people serving on several committees get a real break. I think this is our 3rd year doing it now, and everybody looks forward to it.“

“It’s refreshing to take a break sometimes, not drive ourselves quite so hard.” Ellen reminds us.

Garnett Losak, of the Community Church in New York City, shares some of the ideas her stewardship team has successfully implemented in these early weeks of June:

1) Hold a “Summer of FunD” event with $2,500 in matching funds raised for new pledges.  There was a special table during coffee hour, decorated with flowers and a tablecloth. We set out pledge materials: pledge cards, brochures, etc. We raised over $10,000! with the matching funds that’s $12,500!

2) Share lots of information about what we’ve done this year.

3) Affirm choice not to go into our endowment beyond the prudent 4.5% draw.

4) Celebrate the calling of the first woman serving as our Senior Minister –since 1833!

Summer Leadership Retreats may offer an opportunity for the Stewardship Team, congregation lay and professional leaders to spend some time in a more relaxed setting exploring concepts and practices of good stewardship and planning for the next fiscal year.   You may choose a book to read that stimulates new thinking and enlarges the scope of stewardship in the minds of leaders.  There are some great reading and small group study materials to inspire you and your fellow congregants in the recommended resource list at the end of this post.

Think about ways to nurture a culture of gratitude and generosity across the generations during the summer weeks.  For example, you might invite individuals and families to clarify their religious values, reflect upon a higher calling, and engage in faithful stewardship planning.  There are several great workbooks and guidebooks to recommend, designed for children, teenage youth, as well as younger, middle-aged, and older adults.

Invite families to keep a “summer gratitude journal” of their experiences and reflections.  These could be shared as part of a summer vesper service ritual or special worship series later in the fall.  Gratitude inspires giving, so cultivating gratitude in peoples’ lives reinforces the culture of generosity you strive to create all during the church year.

Get creative with your summer stewardship activities, and make them fun and celebratory!

Use the following summer activities to stimulate your imagination for how to connect them with multigenerational stewardship themes:

  • The pot of gold at the end of a rainbow
  • Walking the labyrinth of generosity
  • Abundance of Ice Cream Sunday
  • Flying kites
  • Collecting shells on the beach
  • Hiking to the Mountain Top                        
  • Lemonade and Watermelon
  • Hawaiian Luau
  • The Garden of flowers or vegetables
  • Balloons
  • Ball games
  • Out on (or in) the water
  • Family Picnics

May your summer weeks be filled with abundant gratitude, joy, generosity, and re-creation!



Resources for Small Group Study:

Wright, Lauren Tyler.  Giving—the sacred art, Skylight Paths publishing.  2008.

Free downloadable UU Study Guide for use with Giving—the sacred art 092

Stewardship:  The Joy of Giving (five session multigenerational curriculum).  2000. UUA.

Resources for Reflection (adults):

Burgess, Gloria.  Dare to Wear Your Soul on the Outside.  2008. Jossey-Bass.

Walker, Cami.  29 Gifts:  How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life.  Lifelong Books.  2009.

Resources for Younger Generations:

Share Save Spend.  Curriculum series and workbooks for youth and adults.  2005.

Kidz4Money.  The Mindset of Wealth book series and workshops for young people .

Zeiler, Freddie.  A Kid’s Guide to Giving.  2006.  Innovative Kids.