Before Asking for Money–Listen!


Everyday conversation in the United States begins with a customary greeting that goes something like…

listening ear child

“Hi! How are you doing?”

“Fine.  How are you doing?”                                     

“Fine.  Life is very busy.  Have a great day!”

“Yeah, you too!”

This is often where the communication ends, if it goes this far at all. The greeting is automatic; listening–really listening–is rarely involved.  Research, however, indicates adults spend about 80% of their daily time communicating, with 93% being non-verbal communication.  It is estimated that adults engage in listening about 45% of the time.  This is the same proportion of listening time estimated in the 1929 research by Dr. Paul Rankin.

Interestingly enough, with the rise of mass media communication between 1950 and 1980, the amount of listening time increased to over 50%. Since then, the advent of email and social networking has caused a slight increase in reading and writing over listening.

Seasoned fundraising consultant and author, Mal Warwick underscores the importance of listening in fundraising:

Is she a good listener? I’ve never met a fundraiser who was truly successful without being a dedicated and effective listener.  In face-to-face solicitations, listening is essential to understand the way that a donor’s personal values and interests might be linked to a particular project. But listening is just as effective in direct mail, telefundraising, or other forms of direct response: how else could she really come to understand what a project or issue is about, or what motivates donors?

In fundraising, face-to-face conversations are an effective way to build relationships and financial support. Strong relationships are central to a healthy and flourishing community.  Money and energy flow in community.

Those who are gift stonesinitiating the conversations on the part of the organization must practice active listening, which is an essential practice in fundraising and annual stewardship. One place to start is to find out more about what matters most to the prospective giver, listening for ways they connect with the mission and priorities of your congregation. When we ask questions that elicit the positive emotions an individual has about the congregation and its faith values, the more likely he or she will commit to financial support. Only after you listen and learn can you connect the person’s values, commitment, and monetary resources into a compelling reason to give. This practice of intentional and positive communication is called Appreciative Inquiry. Appreciative Inquiry should be a central aspect and practice in congregational stewardship and fundraising.

Listening Tips for Organizational Stewards and Fundraisers:

  • Focus on the people and relationships–learn what is important to them about their involvement, their interests, priorities, and values.
  • Listen attentively–let them know they are worthy of your attention and a valued part of the community.
  • Ask questions that elicit positive feelings about the organization and the faith values–listen carefully for ways to explicitly connect their positive energy, time, and resources to advancing the mission and potential of the organization.
  • Be mindful that there are generational differences, theological perspectives, and tenure of membership factors that may affect your ability to listen and identify with those you talk with–be open to new perspectives and ask for clarification.
  • Take notes on key points for follow up–let them know their input is valued and will be taken into consideration.
  • Ask for their contributions and commitment, then allow time for them to respond.
  • Express appreciation–Thank!
  • Follow up on any key points and report back–this builds trust and accountability.
  • Thank again.

Wishing you success and prosperity~

Laurel Amabile portrait 2

Laurel signature

Resources to Develop Listening Skills for Fundraising:

Warwick, Mal.  Are You Getting Your Money’s Worth from Your Fundraising Staff? 2005.  Mal Warwick Associates.

Wilson, Thomas D.  Winning Gifts: Make Your Donors Feel Like Winners. 2008.  John Wiley & Son.  An excerpt from the book devoted to the importance of listening in fundraising is found on the Association of Fundraising Professionals:

Generosity Fitness–a New Year Resolution for 2017!

Happy New Year text with cookies on the wooden background from aboveIt’s time to add Generosity Fitness to the list of our New Year Resolutions, for the spirit and expression of generosity enhances and deepens all the other aspects of life. Generosity matters.  It inspires giving and brings happiness to our lives.

This tradition of New Year Resolutions arose eons ago, inspired by the legend of the Roman god Janus, who is depicted with two faces. One of the faces of Janus looks to the past and the other to the future. The Romans believed Janus could forgive their transgressions, so they made offerings and promises at the beginning of each new calendar year.  Janus was believed to take notice of these gifts and bless the peoples’ lives for the year.  That’s where the month of January gets its name.

According to a recent NBC News poll based upon Google search terms most used in 2016, the Most Popular New Year’s Resolutions for 2017 are:  Get Healthy, Get Organized, Live Life to the Fullest, Learn a New Hobbies, Spend Less/Save More, Travel, Read More. Not surprisingly, these resolutions are about improving one’s life through good health, learning and see new things, and effectively managing money and material possessions. Essentially, this boils down our drive to experience happiness.

A good deal of research has been conducted about the correlation between altruistic behavior and happiness.  Experiments have been conducted at various universities, including the use of brain scans that track the various pain and pleasure centers affected by altruistic behavior, such as charitable giving, helping others, and volunteer service.

OFireworksur pleasure centers light up not only when we receive money or kindness, but also when we give money away or help another out of compassion. Studies show that those who receive money are more likely to give money away, and in larger amounts than those who have not received money before being asked to give.

One Harvard Business School study looked more closely at the cause and effect relationship between giving and happiness.  Happier people give more and giving makes people happier, such that happiness and giving may operate in a positive feedback loop (with happier people giving more, getting happier, and giving even more).

So, how might we fulfill our resolution for greater Generosity Fitness in 2017?

  • Make a commitment to a regular practice of giving and volunteering
  • Contribute the cost of your daily coffee to a cause that matters to you–or better yet, the cost of your monthly fitness or golf club membership!
  • A Month of daily acts of giving and kindness
  •  $5.20 or $52 per week for 52 weeks of the year given to your faith community or other worthy organizations
  • Sponsor a program or scholarship that will benefit to those in your community
  • Make a planned gift or bequest to a cause or organization that matters most to you
  • Organize a social fundraising event that brings people with common interests and a desire to make a difference in their community
  • Most of all, use your imagination.  Be creative.  Experience the joy of cultivating generosity in the world!

May this new year bring you many blessings and great abundance~ 

Laurel Amabile portrait 2   Laurel signature




References and Resources for this article:

Anik,  Aknin, Norton & Dunn.   Harvard Business School working paper, Feeling Good about Giving: The Benefits (and Costs) of Self-Interested Charitable Behavior.   2009.

Brooks, Arthur C. Who Really Cares.  Basic Books.  2006.

Chan, Amanda L. Huffington Post. 2013.  7 Science-back Reasons Why Generosity is Good for Your Health.

Firestone, Lisa. Huffington Post. 2014. The Benefits of Generosity.

Feeling Good about Giving: The Benefits (and Costs) of Self-Interested Charitable Behavior. Authors: Lalin Anik, Harvard Business School Lara B. Aknin, University of British Columbia Michael I. Norton, Harvard Business School Elizabeth W. Dunn, University of British Columbia

Smith, Jordan Michael. New Republic. Sept. 2014. Want to Be Happy? Stop Being So Cheap!


A Comprehensive List of Stewardship Resources

hands generosity

Books & Resources by UU Authors

UUA Bookstore has a wide variety of books on congregation financial planning, stewardship, annual canvass, environmental stewardship, and giving for all ages:

Clark, Wayne. Beyond Fundraising: A Complete Guide to Congregational Stewardship, UUA, 2007.  Available via UUA Bookstore, ISBN# 1-55896-523-8.

Durall, Michael. Creating Congregations of Generous People, Alban Institute, 1999.  UUA Bookstore item #7018.

Durall, Michael, Beyond the Collection Plate: Overcoming Obstacles to Faithful Giving, Abington Press.  UUA Bookstore item #7040.

Dwinell, Jane and Germann-Melosh, Ellen.  Big Ideas for Small Congregations: a friendly guide for leaders2007.  Spirit of Life Publishing, Montpelier, VT.  UUA Bookstore.

Ewert, Mark V. The Generosity Path. 2014. Skinner House Books. Unitarian Universalist Association.

Giving Speaks for UU congregations & organizations hosted by Laurel Amabile, CFRE.

Hauser, Aisha and Lawrence, Susan. Wonderful Welcome. Tapestry of Faith curriculum.  2008.

Heller, Anne Odin. Churchworks: A Well-Body Book for Congregations.

Henrickson, K. Peter. Financial Management in the Church, sixth edition. 2006.  Downloadable pdf version online:

Ohio-Meadville District, Stewardship Resources:

Scheyer, Fia and Lewellen-Dix, Ruth. The Joy of Giving. by 2000, UUA.  Online curriculum, for single document version.

Sweetser, Terry & Milnor, Susan. The Abundance of Our Faith. UUA, 2006   Available via UUA Bookstore item #7092.

Stewardship For Us website and blog by UU Stewardship consultants.

Thayer, Robert. Offerings:  Remarks on Passing the Plate. 2004, Skinner House, UUA Bookstore item #7193.

Turnip Video, Dramas to Provoke Generosity, CD with video and downloadable skits by UU fund-raising and stewardship campaigns.  Proceeds to benefit the Eno River UU Fellowship, Durham, NC,

The UU Small Group Ministry: For the outline for a “Stewardship” session developed for Roots and Wings Covenant Group at the Eno River UU Fellowship, Durham, NC:

UU University at GA 2009–Finding Our Common Wealth: Stewardship as Transformational , co-led by Rev. Cecilia Kingman and Rev. Jeanne Pupke.  DVD set A People So Bold available for purchase:

UU Curriculum Resources with Stewardship Themes 

Infante, Patricia Hall and Messner, David H. The Wi$dom Path: Money, Spirit, and Life. 2013. Unitarian Universalist Association. Tapestry of Faith series. Downloadable version:

Hauser, Aisha and Lawrence, Susan. Wonderful Welcome, Tapestry of Faith curriculum. Unitarian Universalist Association.

Scheyer, Fia and Lewellen-Dix, Ruth. The Joy of Giving.  2000. UUA.  Available online as a pdf download .

Ecumenical Stewardship Organizations & Online Resources

The Alban Institute, , (800) 964-2700 2121 Cooperative Way, Suite 100,  Herndon, VA  20171.  Alban Bookstore, Training programs, Consulting Services, and Research

Augsburg Fortress, , 1-800-328-4648

Center for Christian Stewardship (United Methodist Church) David Bell, Director, , 877-899-2780

Choose to Save, (all ages) website:

The Ecumenical Stewardship Center,

GIVING is an annual magazine publication of the Ecumenical Stewardship Center, an affordable resource for religious organizations.

Giving Speaks blog and website for UU congregations and organizations.

Learning to Give (all ages)   Note:  This website is chock full of resources for religious organization, educators, parents, children and youth, younger and older adults.  Included are a variety of interactive activities and numerous links to relevant sites and organizations.

Living the Good News and the Office of Stewardship at the Episcopal Church Center, Growing A Grateful, Generous Heart, 2003, Living the Good News ( , 800-824-1813),  ISBN #1-931-960-15-1.

Make It Simple: A Resource for Stewardship Education and Annual Response (online with downloadable resource, using a Christian framework), Evangelical Lutheran Church in America,

Moonjar (all ages)  A program of  saving, sharing, and spending that features special boxes with three compartments for each. Links to the Seattle Foundation resources for children and parents found at:

Save Share Spend, Nathan Dungan, Founder, website:

The Search-Institute (Lutheran) Searchable website with a wide range of resources, including the topics of stewardship.

Stewardship for Life (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America)

Stewardship Books for Congregation Leaders

Barna, George.  How to Increase Giving in Your Church.  1997.  Regal Books, Ventura, CA.

Blanchard, Ken and Cathy, S. Truett, The Generosity Factor, 2002, Zondervan.  ISBN #0-310-24660-1.  A parable based on biblical principles of personal stewardship for those who sense there is more to life than getting more.

Branson, Mark Lau.  Memories, Hopes and Conversations:  Appreciative Inquiry and Congregational Change, ISBN# 1-56699-288-5  Alban.

Callahan, Kennon L. Giving and Stewardship in an Effective Church:  A Guide for Every Member. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1990.

Christopher, J. Clif. Not Your Parents’ Offering Plate: a New Vision for Financial Stewardship. 2008. Abingdon Press.

Christopher, J. Clif. Rich Church, Poor Church: Keys to Effective Financial Ministry. 2012. Abingdon Press.

Christopher, J. Clif. The Church Money Manual: Best Practices for Finance and Stewardship. 2014. Abingdon Press.

Central East Regional Group (CERG) Including the link to the webinar series Putting Your Money Where Your Heart Is: New Ideas in Stewardship. The webinar uses the book Not Your Parents’ Offering Plate by J. Clif Christopher, for which a UU study guide has been created:

Gary, Tracey, and Kohner, Melissa. Inspired Philanthropy:  Your Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Giving Plan,  2nd edition. 2002, Jossey-Bass.  ISBN:  0-7879-6410-7

Growing A Grateful, Generous Heart is a curriculum set which includes a Leader Guide, Parent/Family Resource, and booklets for children in four different age groupings.  The basic message is that of biblical stewardship, with engaging and age-appropriate activities and easy-to-follow format.

Jeavons, Thomas H., and Rebekah Burch Basinger. Growing Givers’ Hearts: Treating Fundraising as Ministry. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2000.

Johnson, Janice, FCBA, and Swint, Ruben. Weaving Our Lives Together:  A Stewardship Program For Your Congregation. 2004,  NACBA Press, Richardson, TX, (800) 898-8085, ,  ISBN: 9705433-6-0.

Kessel, Brent. It’s Not About the Money, Harper One, HarperCollins.  NY.  2008.  ISBN: 978-0-06-123406-4.

Outlines a new path of financial and personal growth based on insights from the          world’s spiritual and wisdom traditions.  Features eight financial archetypes to help readers understand their own financial habits, and exercises to transform one’s financial life from the inside out.

Malphurs, Aubrey and Stroope, Steve. Money Matters in Church.  2007.  Baker Books.ISBN: 10: 0-8010-6627-1.

This is a practical guide for congregation leaders with tips for strategic budgeting, stewardship and special campaign organization, effective income projections, expense tracking, and auditing processes.  Draws upon biblical theology and current practices.

O’Hurley-Pitts, Michael. The Passionate Steward: Recovering Christian Stewardship from Secular Fundraising. Toronto, ON: St. Brigid Press, 2001.

Roehlkepartain, Naftali, and Musegades. Growing Up Generous:  Engaging Youth in Giving and Serving, ISBN: 1-56699-238-9, available through Alban Bookstore.

Robertson, C. K.  Transforming Stewardship.  The Episcopal Church of the 21st Century.  Church Publishing, NY.  2009.  ISBN #970-0-89869-607-3.

Ryan, M.J. The Giving Heart, 2000, Conari Press, ISBN # 1-57324-521-6

Ryan, M.J. The Grateful Heart, 1994, Conari Press, ISBN #0-943233-84-4.

Wright, Lauren Tyler. Giving—the Sacred Art. Skylight Paths Publishing, Woodstock, VT.  2008.   ISBN:  978-1-59473-224-9.

Practical tips and inspiring thoughts for living a life of abundance and spirit-filled generosity.  Giving as worship; giving as stewardship; giving as charity; and giving as justice are the topics.  NOTE:  For the UU Study Guide for use with Giving—the sacred art,

Zech, Charles E. Best Practices in Parish Stewardship, Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division.  2008.  ISBN:  978-1-59276-492-1.

Sources of Readings, Prayers, and Meditations for Worship

The Worship Web, UUA online resource, featuring Worship Resource for a Troubled Economy,

Stories for the UUA’s Tapestry of Faith Curriculum Series:

Books on Giving and Generosity for Parents and Religious Educators

Bjorhovde, Patricia O., Editor. Creating Tomorrow’s Philanthropists: Curriculum Development for Youth, New Directions for Philanthropic Fundraising, Number 36, Summer 2002, sponsored by The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University and the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), Jossey-Bass.  ISBN:  0-7879-6435-2

Edelman, Marian Wright. The Measure of Our Success, 1992, Beacon Press, Boston.  Harper Collins (paperback).  ISBN # 0-06-097546-6.

A mother’s message to her sons and other people’s children in the form of twenty-five lessons for life as moral, caring individuals.  This is also good reading for teen youth and young adults.

Heiss, Renee. Helping Kids Help, 2007, Zephyr Press, , ISBN # 978-1-56976-211-0

This book provides adult mentors with ideas for helping children and youth organize successful charitable projects, to evaluate which charities to support, team-building, and real stories.

Price, Susan Crites. The Giving Family: Raising Our Children to Help Others, 2005, Council on Foundations.  ISBN # 0-913892-99-8.

This book offers dozens of simple family activities to engage children of any age in learning the value of giving their time, talents, money to people and causes that matter.

Roehlkepartain, Eugene C., Naftali, Elanah Dalyah, and Musegades, Laura. Growing Up Generous:  Engaging Youth in Giving and Serving, 2000, Alban Institute,  ISBN # 1-56699-238-9.

This book provides the principles and practices to help youth develop generosity and service to others as ways of life.

Weisman, Carol. Raising Charitable Children, 2006, F. E. Robbins & Sons Press.  ISBN #0-9767972-0-8

An easy-to-read practical guide for parents seeking to introduce their children to charitable giving and volunteering.

Zirkel, Annie M.  You’ll Thank Me Later, 2009. AZ is Publishing.  ISBN: 978-0-615-32777-8

A resource for parents (and religious educators) to help nurture generosity, gratitude, and optimism within themselves and in their children.

Books on Giving and Generosity for Children, Youth, and All Ages

Brumbeau, Jeff and de Marken, Gail. The Quiltmaker’s Gift. 2000, Orchard Books (Scholastic, Inc), ISBN #0-439-30910-7.

This beautifully illustrated picture book tells the story of a generous quilt-maker who finally agrees to make a quilt for a greedy king, but only under certain conditions. In the end, she causes the king to undergo a change of heart.

Cooney, Barbara. Miss Rumphius. Puffin Books ISBN: 0140505393

The story of Miss Alice Rumphius—known as the “Lupine Lady”– who grew up hearing the stories of her beloved grandfather and decided upon three things she wanted to do: to see faraway places, to return and live by the sea, and to make the world more beautiful.

DiSalvo-Ryan, DyAnne. City Green. 1994, Scholastic Books.  ISBN # 0-590-62218-8.

Set in an urban setting with multicultural illustrations, this is a story of a girl who sets about transforming a vacant lot into a community garden, inspiring her neighbors to take part in its creation and upkeep.

DiSalvo-Ryan, DyAnne, Uncle Willie and the Soup Kitchen. 1991, William Morrow & Co. Inc. ISBN # 9-780688-091651.

A boy spends the day with his uncle in the soup kitchen, preparing and serving food for the hungry in his local area.

Fine, Edith Hope, Under the Lemon Moon. 1999, Lee & Low Books.  ISBN# 1-58430-051-5

A story set in Mexico featuring a young girl who learns about compassion, justice, and the power of forgiveness.

Flikkema, Elizabeth, Make the World a Better Place:  My Sharing Time, Talent and Treasure Activity Book. 2005, Learning to Give Press, Muskegon, MI.  ISBN # 0-9774155-0-3.

The central character to this activity book is an ant, nicknamed Ant Phil. Ant Phil teaches young people about philanthropy through engaging activities, language, and stories.

Forsyth-Vail, Gail. Stories in Faith. 2007, UUA, Boston.  ISBN # 1-55896-528-9.

Wisdom tales drawn from many cultures and traditions are presented in a framework of the seven principles of Unitarian Universalism and its six sources of faith. It is designed as a resource for parents, religious educators, ministers and seekers, and offers ways to use the stories in multigenerational settings.

Garwood, Galen. Panom: And the Stone of Light. 2011.  Marrowstone Press.  ISBN # 97806154412.

Based on a Buddhist tale about a great elephant matriarch and her interactions with human beings that lead to greater understanding, generosity, and appreciation of the natural world.

Hughes, Shirley. Giving. 1993, Candlewick Press. Cambridge, MA. ISBN #1-56402-129-7.

This story book is for young children, featuring behaviors of giving and sharing among family, friends, and in community.

Hutchins, Pat.  The Doorbell Rang. 1986, Mulberry Books, NY, ISBN 978-0-688-09234-4.

Ma has made a dozen delicious cookies.  It should be plenty for her two children.  But then the doorbell rings—and rings and rings and rings.  Great message about generosity and sharing for young children.

McCloud, Carol. Have You Filled A Bucket Today? 2006.  Ferne Press.  ISBN# 978-0-9785075-1-0.

A colorful book for children that encourages positive behavior by expressing kindness, appreciation, love, and generosity in their daily interactions.

McPhail, David. Mole Music. Henry Holt and Co.  ISBN:  0805067663

A little mole living underground decides to learn to play violin.  As he does so the mole’s music is heard above ground and without his knowing, influences and transforms those above who hear it.

Moore, Mary Ann. Hide & Seek with God. 1994, Skinner House Books, Boston.  ISBN# 1-55896-277-8.

God comes alive in a variety of multicultural, non-sexist forms—as transcendent mystery, the mother and father of life, peace and silence, light and darkness, and more.  This book offers stories for young and old that speak to God as a source of abundance and life’s blessings.

Muth, Jon. Stone Soup. 2003, Scholastic Books, New York, ISBN# 0-439-33909-X

A story for all ages with lovely Asian watercolor illustrations, the author retells this familiar old trickster tale, combining his love for Zen Buddhism and Eastern culture in celebrating the power of generosity.

Pfister, Marcus. The Rainbow Fish. 1992, North-South Books, NY.  ISBN #1-55858-009-3

The story of a beautiful fish that learns to make friends by sharing his most prized possessions—his shimmering scales.

Pinkwater, Daniel Manus. The Doodle Flute, 1991, MacMillan Publishing,  ISBN# 0027746356.

A story of two boys–one with the only doodle flute around and one who wants to have one—come to an agreement on how to best share this special item.

Polacco, Patricia. Chicken Sunday. 1992, Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers, New York.  ISBN# 0-698-11615-1.

Based on the author’s childhood experience, this moving story promotes an appreciation of diversity and generosity.

Rogers, Fred. The Giving Box. 2000,  Running Press Book Publishers.        ISBN # 0-7624-0825-1.

Beginning with a message to parents, this book contains folktales and fables that illustrate giving and generosity.  In addition, there are activities for families, including the practice of the “Giving Box.”

Rosewood, Olivia. Gratitude Soup. 2009, self published.  ISBN#  1448681286.

A collage style book for children and their parents/caregivers to offer ideas for creating their own gratitude art.

Ryan, DyAnne DiSalvo. City Green.  HarperCollins.  ISBN: 068812786X

A young girl sees a vacant lot in her community and sets about the process of transforming the lot into a community park for all to enjoy.

Sabin, Ellen. The Giving Book: Open the Door to a Lifetime of Giving. 2004. Watering Can Press.  ISBN # 0-9759868-0-5.

Written as a workbook for children in the primary grades, provides a fun way to learn about generosity, to identify the causes they care about, and to discover ways to give and to keep a record of their giving.  NOTE: This books may not be perceived as inclusive to all socio-economic groups and may require balancing messages about “helping others” to be inclusive of diverse educational, family, income backgrounds.

Sage, James. The Little Band.  Scholastic.  ISBN:  0590462369

A little band that parades through town, making positive changes along the way.

Sandman, Rochel. As Big as an Egg: Story About Giving. 1995. Hachai Publishing. ISBN: 978-0-922613-77-9

Bubbe Hinda stands near the bread-line collecting food for the sick during WWII.  She never knew about her mitzvah helper, Chaim, who learned in mysterious ways the importance of giving to others, as Bubbe Hinda’s example showed.

Shea, Pegi Deitz. The Carpet Boy’s Gift. 2003, Tilbury House, Gardiner, ME.  ISBN:  13978-0-88448-249-9

Yearning for freedom and schooling for himself and the other children who toil in a carpet factory in Pakistan to repay loans from the factory owner to their parents, Nadeem is inspired by a former carpet boy named Iqbal to lead the way.

Schwartz, David M. If You Made A Million. 1989, Mulberry Books                ISBN #0-688-13634-6.

This book describes the various forms money can take—coins, paper, personal checks—and how it can be used to make purchases, pay off loans, or build interest in the bank.

Stafford, Anika. Aisha’s Moonlit Walk. 2005, Skinner House Books, Boston, MA.  ISBN# 1-55896-485-1

This book features eight stories and seasonal celebrations of the pagan year.  This book lends itself to stewardship of the earth and giving/receiving/gratitude.

Steptoe, John. Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters. Amistad. ISBN: 0688040454

A story set in Africa about Mufaro and his two beautiful daughters—one selfish and mean and the other kind and generous.

Williams, Betsy Hill, Editor. UU and Me Collected Stories. 2003, UUA, Skinner House Books, Boston, MA  ISBN:  1-55896-455-X

This book is a collection of 26 stories featured in the uu&me! magazine series provide a rich source of stories that promote generosity, service, and caring for our earth and its creatures.

Williamson, Nancy S. 52 Ways to Teach Stewardship 1999, Rainbow Books, San Diego, CA.  ISBN #1-885358-16-4.

This activity book is designed for ages 4-12 and teaches the concepts of Biblical Stewardship through a series of 52 activities.  The authors grant permission to copy the activity pages for classroom use.

Zeiler, Frederika. A Kid’s Guide to Giving. 2006, published by innovativeKids.  ISBN # 978-1-58476-489-2.

Written and published by the time she was twenty years old, Zeiler researched and listed a variety of worthy organizations under the categories of people, animals, and the environment.  This book includes inspirational stories about young people and their expressions of generosity.

Activities and Practices that Foster Generosity in Children and Youth

  • Worship experiences with opportunities for children and youth to contribute in the offertory, to assume leadership roles in the service, tell their stories, play music, and share their joys and concerns.
  • Opportunities to volunteer in meaningful ways in congregational service activities and multigenerational events.
  • Create leadership roles and training experiences for children and youth to      contribute their skills and talents.
  • Take the time to educate children and youth in the rights and responsibilities of      membership, including ways that they can appropriately contribute financially as well as in service to the congregation and wider association.
  • Give children and youth a voice in the budgetary and financial decisions that      concern them.  This may include decisions around contributing part of the offering to a social justice cause, fund-raising opportunities, youth group budget line.
  • Tell the stories of the ways Unitarian Universalism and the congregation has made a difference in your life and in the wider world.  Model generosity of spirit and giving.
  • Worship or program leaders has a stack of crisp new dollar bills, one per child.  Engage the children in conversation about different ways we get money (earn it, save it, receive it as a gift), and the things we do with it. Then play a game:  give the children a chance to earn a dollar by playing.  With two volunteers, hold one dollar up vertically and let it drop toward one’s outstretched finger & thumb. You need fast reflexes to catch it! If you catch it, you keep it! After a couple of practice demonstrations, pass out the dollars bills for the children to try in pairs. After everyone has a chance to play, there is a new round. Give each child a dollar      and invite them to think about what they would do with their dollar. Would they spend it, save it, or give it away? Follow up with the children in a couple of weeks to ask them what they chose to do with the dollar they were given.
  • The Unitarian Fellowship of Houston kicks off their campaign with a green luncheon, and the children make a dish to contribute. Green fruit salads (grapes, honeydew,  kiwi, granny smith apples with a lime-thyme dressing) and guacamole deviled eggs have been especially appreciated. The elementary-aged children take the offering as ushers (yes, in “big church”)  every Sunday.
  • Morristown, NJ puts together little envelopes with a colored label with the word’s “Children’s Offering.”    The children are given the envelopes when they enter the sanctuary and they put money into the collection basket every Sunday.  The Treasurer keeps track and sends the DRE weekly reports about how much money the children have given.  There is a growing sense of ownership among the children in contributing to their Fellowship.  At one time our children left before the offertory, but now they participate by giving.  It’s such a good thing.                                                                                                                

Unitarian Universalist Giving Opportunities for All Ages

  • Giving and Generosity section of the UUA website: for a variety of planned and Legacy giving programs, congregational, and individual giving opportunities.
  • Friends of the UUA individual giving:
  • UU Partner Church Council:, supporting Unitarian Universalists around the world.  Congregations may contribute funding to support partner churches in Khasi Hills, India, the Philippines, and Transylvania.
  •  Natalie Gulbrandsen Ministerial Scholarship Fund
  •  The Living Tradition Fund: provides scholarships and financial assistance to ministers and seminarians.
  • Church of the Larger Fellowship:, our virtual congregation, linking UUs around the world through publications, audio, and religious education programs. To contribute to CLF:
  •  LREDA Endowment Fund:
  •  UU Service Committee:, this is the organization that sponsors the “Guest at Your Table” program of individual giving.  The UU Service Committee has a number of other service projects to support.
  • The Sienna Project:  Building Schools in Guatemala.  This non-profit organization is a living memorial to Sienna Lavanhar.  The Sienna Project is connected to the Religious Education Program of the Unitarian Society of Ridgewood, New Jersey.  For more information:  or email:
  • Chalice Lighters—Check the UUA website to find the district your congregation is part of to sign up as one of your region’s Chalice Lighters.  These are smaller donations made three or four times a year in support of congregations in your district/region.