We often think about our parishioners stewarding their time, talent, and treasure. But what about us stewarding our donors? Stewardship recognizes that what I have isn’t really mine to expect or possess. Anything I have, I’ve received as a gift. Our donors are not our own. There are plenty of places they could give besides the parish. But here they are, supporting their local faith community!
Recognizing and honoring the gifts of your parish donors is important. It shows respect for the person, builds relationship, and encourages future involvement in parish life. As you prepare tax statements for 2018 donors, what else are they receiving from you? Remember, stewardship goes both ways! Here are some fresh ways to say thank you” to your end of year donors, and anyone else who walked with you in 2018.
Send a Creative “Thank You”
Often at year’s end, the pastor writes a final ask or sends a letter of gratitude. The letter is printed en masse on parish stationary, with a digital version of the pastor’s signature. This standard method words, but why not be creative this year? How about…
- Have each parish school student make a thank you card, and send one out to each giving household.
- Set aside a staff day for giving support. Give each staff member a list of donors, and spend the day giving everyone a call. Keep the call to 5-10 minutes or, if no one picks up, leave voicemails of gratitude.
- Design a simple postcard for print with photos include parish ministries in action. Combine the photos into one postcard, or dedicate different cards to different ministries.
Create a Thank You Video
A personal, heartfelt connection can go a long way. You may not be able to shake hands with every tithing parishioner, but creating a “thank you” video can still create a human connection. The video could involve thanks from the pastor, a montage of clips from parish life, or messages from impacted programs. Keep it between 90 seconds and three minutes. Share the video via email, at during Sunday Mass announcements (if you have the audio visual ability), and on your parish’s social media page.
Establish Giving Tiers
This could be implemented in your year-end thank you, or created now for use throughout the year. Examine the number of one-time and monthly givers, as well as their amounts. Establish specific actions for the different levels. For example, parishioners giving $25-$50 a month will receive a thank you letter. Parishioners giving upwards of $500 a month will receive a handwritten note from the pastor, as well as an invitation to a “thank you” breakfast.
Intercede for Your Donors
When we discuss stewardship, often we mention that we’re more blessed in our giving than in our receiving. How about praying for that blessing in the lives of your donors?
- Offer a designated “thank you” Mass for the intentions of those who give to the parish…and send them an invitation!
- Designate a staff holy hour with intercessory prayers and reflections for all who donate to the parish.
- Tally up the number of giving households at your parish. Set aside time to pray the rosary as a staff on a weekly basis until each household has a “Hail Mary” or decade offered up for them.
Host a Donor Cultivation Event
Donating to one’s parish might seem to be expected. We might even treat it that way as a parish staff! Still, ongoing engagement is a great way to engage parishioners in the stewardship and development efforts of your parish. The point of a cultivation event isn’t to raise funds, but to grow relationships.
The event organizers will vary based on the makeup of your parish. It could be organized by the stewardship committee, finance council, or a few mission-minded parishioners or parish staff in tandem with the pastor. Plan for a casual event in a comfortable atmosphere, like appetizers at the rectory or a cookout at the home of a parish council member. This allows for relaxed, yet intentional conversations. This isn’t the time for another “ask,” but the organizing team should be prepared to share more of parish success stories and the impact from the year. The invitations could go to all current givers. However, note higher donors to receive a specific, personal “thank you” from someone on the organizing team, or the pastor himself.
What do you do to thank your parish donors?