Outline of a Stewardship Visit

Interviewing –  a conversation with a purpose

The oldest, most universal method people have used to invite one another to contribute financially to their congregation via face-to-face conversation.  Done with skill and sensitivity, this approach allows people to discover and share commonly held values and arrive at a clearer understanding of one another and their faith community.

Before the meeting, briefly review:

Our annual campaign booklet, the giving guidelines, and SEAT method (below).  These steps will make the stewardship visit more fun, focused, and productive.

The Stewardship Visit:

Share —your personal support of the congregation and its ministry.  Let them know what it means to you, your hopes and dreams for it, your level of participation and financial support.  Don’t hesitate to share your excitement about anything you feel strongly about; interfaith activities, service networks, youth groups, adult programs, our values, our staff, religious education, Sunday services, the monthly giving and outreach programs, our music and choir, and feeling and energy of the congregation this year.

Explain —any aspects of the canvassing effort that might be unclear to the person you are canvassing.  Make an honest effort to help them understand the need for an annual pledge drive and the process of the pledge drive, if necessary.  Honestly answer any questions they may have.

Ask–specifically for pledge that is as generous as can possible.

  • Look them right in the eye and hand them their pledge card like this is the most important thing you will do today.   “It is my pleasure to be able to ask you to      support the work and ministry of Our Congregation.  Here is a pledge form.  Would you please be as generous as you possibly can?”
  •  Make sure they understand how to fill it out.
  • Take the pledge card back from them when they are finished.

Thank — them for their pledge as you accept the pledge card.  When you get home write them a brief, personal thank you note for sharing their time and for their pledge.  Write a note even if someone hasn’t made a pledge for this year.

Shared by the staff and lay leaders of the First Unitarian Society of Denver and the First Universalist Church of Denver.  Adapted by Laurel Amabile with permission. 1/2012

4 thoughts on “Outline of a Stewardship Visit

  1. I agree with Tom. People are hungry for community and belonging.

    This year we threw caution to the wind and tried something different than the individual visits: three social events, all of them open to all members and friends during Stewardship Week. A tea, during the day; a dinner for families in a members home, and a large dinner held in the hall of our neighboring Congregational Church, as we do not have our own space where we can all fit (yet!)

    Having events at different times allowed for individuals who might not go out at night anymore to come during the day, and for those with day or evening work schedules a chance to participate. Families with young children could socialize without worrying about their children being “too noisy”, and the larger group still came together for the traditional large dinner we have held for many years. Turnout was excellent, and we while we have not yet reached our goal (which is 20% higher than last year), we have already surpassed last years goal, and given that we have had a significant drop in membership this past year, we are very pleased with the feedback, both verbal and financial. Yes, it was a lot of work, but it was well worth it- and a lot of fun!

  2. This technique is a good guide for soliciting pledges, and donations. However, unless there is a feeling of belonging to the community, the results will be less than optimal. The traditional denominations are fading because, “it’s my church,” has been replaced by, “I am a member of.”
    We hold our memberships on our resume, but give time, talent and treasure to where we belong. There are prosperous churches in poor neighborhoods, and dying churches in upscale areas.

    Nurturing the feeling of belonging to the Congregation, the District and the UUA, is crucial to our denomination’s survival. If we only have members we will slip into history.

    The needed debate is not how to get bigger pledge income, it is how to foster the feeling of belonging.

    Tom Reilly belongs to the Dorothea Dix UU Community, Bordentown City, NJ and is the Joseph Priesley District Board Treasurer

    • You and Suzanne are both so right! The one on one contacts are an effective method of building relationships within the community on a smaller scale, but there is always benefit to community-building through group activities. Thanks to you both for your comments.

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