It’s summer: Hurray! But guess what? Fall will be here in a about a minute and so will your annual pledge campaign. Make sure some of the key work is done or well underway before "summer doldrums" really sink in! Here are some questions to ask now:
Who? Who's this year's Stewardship Chair? (If you're reading this, it might be you!). Who else is on the team? Are they meeting? Do they need any resources?
Another important "Who" are the Vestry. As leaders in the church, individual Vestry members should model strong stewardship behavior. One excellent practice some churches do is distribute pledge cards to their Vestry in advance of the regular campaign launch, in order to get Vestry commitments in first.
- This means you can get a better sense of progress toward your ultimate goal early, and
- You can include in your messaging the good news that 100% of the Vestry has already pledged their financial commitment for the coming year (even better messaging if each member has increased their pledge)! That builds good energy and momentum.
Can you distribute 2020 pledge cards to the Vestry now?
Who's on the list? What does your master list look like? Have names and spelling all been checked? Do you have accurate home addresses and emails? Do you have the preferred name noted so you're not sending a letter to someone addressed "Bob," if they always go by the name "Robert"?
And speaking of the master list, has it been segmented so you can personalize your communications better? Someone who pledged last year should receive a letter that includes "Thank you for your pledge last year," of course. Speaking of personalizing, "Dear Frank and Barbara," is always preferable to "Dear Parishioner." Mail merge makes that easy.
Don't forget people who pledged in the past but not this last year. In professional fundraising, they call last-year-but-not-this-year LYBUNTS, and will develop special strategies to communicate with them. You don't want to shrink your mailing list every year to only include the most recent pledgers. Someone may have dropped off and they just need a personal contact. Who are they and who will reach out?
What's your messaging and theme? Do you have a theme for your fall pledge campaign? The best theme is specific to the special spirit of your church. Perhaps these questions will help:
- What are we known for in our community?
- What do we want to be known for?
- How does this intersect with God's Mission for us?
Themes should be simple and memorable. Think too about how you can use visuals to help promote the theme - make it even more meaningful.
One resource for a theme is The Episcopal Network for Stewardship (TENS). Because our Diocese is a member of TENS, you have access to TENS' materials. User name is Matthew and password is five:16). This year's TENS theme is "Shining our Light." A word of caution though -- it is always better to personalize your materials as much as possible. Use TENS as a jumping off point, but don't be reluctant to really make your church's personality shine through!
This newsletter is produced by the Bishop's Office in conjunction with the Diocesan Council for Stewardship. To subscribe, contact Cynthia McChesney at firstname.lastname@example.org. We have lots of additional stewardship resources available for your use, including the Diocese of Newark website and our Stewardship Matters Facebook Page.