You Are Competing for Ministry Dollars

Communication // January 5, 2009

For years, my family has supported a child (now a teenager) through World Vision. While the part we play is admittedly small, it is something we have chosen to do as a way of involving our children (now also teenagers – yikes!) in another lesson of giving. (Yes, for those of you wondering, this financial support is over and above our tithe, which goes in total to our church.)

To help our kids relate, we intentionally chose to support a young girl that shared the same birth month and year as our youngest daughter. It has made it easier for us to relate to our “adopted” girl in this long distance relationship.

How often do you thank your church family for their faithfulness in giving to support the ministry plan of the church?

Did you know that one reason donors tell us they don’t give, is because no one ever says “thank you” to them? While I agree that should not be their motivation for giving, I do understand the importance of letting people know they are appreciated. It just plain feels good!

Today we received a letter from the World Vision program manager of our sponsored child’s district. It is a letter expressing thanks for our support. In addition to expressing thanks, there are several lessons you can take away from this letter by following a model similar in it’s design and content.

Here are the points and how they chose to verbalize them in their letter to us:

  • We are reminded of the ongoing struggle their citizens face as they strive to serve those less fortunate in their country. This is a reminder of the ongoing mission in the country and why we chose to initiate our support in the first place.

“This letter serves as an appreciation for the tremendous support you have extended to Taung ADP, located in the southern part of Lesotho which is characterized with chronic poverty, HIV/AIDS, environmental degradation, drought and new increasing food prices.”

  • They acknowledge our current circumstances and the economic hardships many are feeling here in the United States. They don’t ignore the possibility that we ourselves may have suffered some financial stress this year.

“Our sincere gratitude is felt because of the prevailing hard global economic times experienced by the people of the United States.”

  • They express gratitude for our ongoing, faithful support in spite of potential hardships

“At such a time as this you still give without ceasing. We do not take this gesture lightly. We really appreciate your support.”

  • They remind us to celebrate the good that is done through our gifts, while again emphasizing the vision of their mission.

“It is through your support that our program has managed to overcome some of the challenges of our area, such as food insecurity, water and sanitation, shelter, education for orphans and vulnerable children and of course malnutrition in children and the elderly. The community has been trained to build and use drought tolerant homestead gardens that enable families to produce vegetables throughout the year. Seeds were provided to needy families with homestead gardens. Supplementary feeding was made available for child-headed households, families with children under five years of age and HIV/AIDS patients.

I am proud to let you know that lives have been transformed because of your support.”

  • The letter ends with a prayer and a scripture, not an “ask.” There is no solicitation for additional help. (I know that will come in future communications!) How often do your constituents hear from you when you really do NOT want anything from them?

You are competing for your constituent’s charitable dollars with organizations all around the world! You do realize that, don’t you?

How well do you communicate your vision for ministry?

How often do you communicate that vision?

How do you acknowledge the circumstances your people may be facing – letting them know you are sensitive to what is going on all around us?

How many opportunities have you taken to stop and genuinely say “thank you” separate from any other agenda?

Think about these questions and let’s resolve to do even better in 2009!

About Rusty Lewis

As a church leader, there’s nothing more frustrating than not having the funding to do what God’s calling you to do. But when you think about trying to address that problem, you feel overwhelmed, you dread the potential pushback from your congregation, and you’re not sure where to turn for help. Over the last 18 years, I’ve helped more than 120 churches close the gap between their current financial reality and what they need to move forward in ministry.

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