Stewarding Your Congregation: Following the Golden Rule at Church | npENGAGE

Stewarding Your Congregation: Following the Golden Rule at Church

By on Jun 19, 2019


Thanking your church's financial supporters

In my last article, “Communicating Your Church’s Financial Needs,” we discussed the second step to fundraising in church, explaining financial needs and spending. In my final blog post in this series, we’ll delve into step three, showing appreciation and impact.

My parents repeated the golden rule to my siblings and me hundreds, if not thousands, of times. I know that the golden rule isn’t really written in most major religion guidelines, but it is certainly a core concept in many households.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

So, do you and your church staff like to be appreciated? Yes! Most people will say they are underappreciated and would love to hear some thanks beyond a quick greeting like “good sermon” at the end of the service.

Do churches want to see the impact of their spending in various areas? Of course, they need to make sure that they are being good stewards of what was given to them.

Are we practicing what we are preaching?

Do churches show appreciation of donations—be it offerings, tithes, or time? “Well … um … we have volunteer appreciation week at church.” No, that’s not exactly what I’m asking, but it is along the same lines.

How do you appreciate and show impact without sending a zillion thank you letters?

Think about the most meaningful thank-you’s you’ve received. Were they elaborate long-winded novellas of appreciation? Were they huge celebrations of what you did for someone? Or, were they a sincere thank you from a struggling friend or a sticky hug from a child who tells you that you’re the best? “Little things mean a lot” isn’t merely a sentiment, it’s a fact. A quick text of thanks from a friend or saying, “We appreciate you volunteering today,” can be just what I need to hear. Recently, for the fourth week in a row, the church nursery coordinator needed me to help hold babies so parents could attend service. Her smile and genuine thank-you meant so much. At the end of the service, one of the mothers brought around little muffin tops for those who worked in the nursery for the day. These were small gestures that I’ll remember (especially the next time I’m asked to volunteer).

Yes, the above examples are mostly geared to appreciating volunteers, but the same can be said for your financial supporters. Do you thank people for their generosity or for being good stewards of their money? Do you thank them for entrusting your church with their hard-earned money? Do you thank them at all? What little comment can be made from the pulpit, added to the bulletin, or stated on the website? Recently, my church celebrated the financial support from a fundraiser for our youth. The church shared pictures and said thank you to all who came out to help the youth and support the church. People liked the post and shared it. We celebrated together.

How can you go from “thank you” to donor evangelism? Read: The 5 Phases of the Faith-Based Supporter Life Cycle

Remember to celebrate the little things as well as the big goals that you reach. Yes, you can have a huge celebration when you open the new church or finish your capital campaign, but remember to celebrate the little things and to say thank you. Sometimes, the best thank-you’s don’t even contain those two words—they contain heartfelt appreciation and a smile.

But what do I mean by impact?

Impact combines outputs and outcomes. Your outputs may correlate to keeping the lights on, and toilet paper stocked in the restroom, but how did you help the communities, the families, and the individuals in your church? These are your outcomes. Did you help improve the lives of x number of people through your grief counseling services? Were you able to provide food to families in your food pantry, or clothes through your clothing closet, or scholarships through your fundraisers?

Some churches have a monthly focus on spending outside of overhead or have a general comment during offering about what giving helps support. Each month, they support a food pantry, a homeless mission, a center for abused women, or something else in the community.

Did this topic pique your curiosity? Your church can dive more fully into the concept of showing appreciation and impact in Blackbaud’s Organizational Best Practices workshop, “Faith—Giving and Engagement.”


Melissa is a principal instructional designer with more than 20 years of experience in the nonprofit, corporate training, business management, marketing, and university spheres. Currently, she creates interactive, outcome-based classes and workshops with a focus on people, process, and technology.

Melissa’s education, nonprofit, and business background provides a unique view of the overall training curriculum and the tiny details that make educational experiences remarkable. Her passions revolve around family, exquisite training design, immersive outcome-focused trainings, and project management.

Melissa earned her MBA at Western Michigan University.

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