Building a Culture of Stewardship Through Annual Campaigns

You’ve likely heard it said, or maybe even uttered these words yourself, “no one likes it when we talk about money in the church.” Yet, at the heart of every church community lies a commitment to stewardship and the incredible opportunity it offers – a calling to steward and share our resources and gifts as part of God’s redeeming work in the world.

The Heart of Stewardship
Stewardship transcends financial contributions; it gives people the opportunity to express gratitude and responsibility for God’s gifts. It’s about recognizing that everything we have – our time, talents, and treasures – is entrusted to us by God. As caretakers, we have an amazing  opportunity to use these gifts to bring glory to God by serving others. When you are inviting people to give, it’s an invitation is discipleship. It is disciple-making in action.

So, how we talk about money matters. It should not be about fulfilling the church budget, though that might be the outcome. Stewardship is about discipleship. It is about mission. In this light, why wouldn’t we want to talk about money? It gives us the opportunity to:

  • Invite our congregants to be a part of God’s work,
  • Teach about the joy of generosity, and
  • Celebrate the impact of what God is doing.

The Annual Campaign
Annual stewardship campaigns are an opportunity to unite your congregation behind a shared vision, understanding that each person’s participation is vital. They are an opportunity for the congregation to discern God’s work in their lives and what God might be calling them to do in the year ahead with their resources.

At Resurrection, our annual stewardship campaign is typically held in November, which ties to Fall Harvest and Thanksgiving. The focus is not on covering the church budget. Instead, it is an invitation to discipleship, an invitation to experience the joy found in giving and to discern what God is calling each of us, individually, and the congregation as a whole to do in the year ahead.

Our campaigns include:

  • A Sermon Series – This yearly sermon series on giving helps congregants know what the Bible says about money and generosity, while also encouraging something to strive toward, like tithing. Here are some ideas for stewardship sermon series.

  • Commitment – We invite congregants to complete a commitment card as an act of worship. It is a spiritual practice where each donor has the opportunity to pray and to discern what God might be calling them to sacrifice. On commitment weekend, worshippers bring their completed cards forward as an act of gratitude and commitment for the year ahead. Our average gift from a donor who completes a commitment card is 387% greater than those who do not complete a card.

  • Personalized Communication – We personalize communication to our donors – to equip them with information and resources they need to make decisions about their contributions and involvement in the church. For example, for donors 70 ½+, we provide information on how to use their IRAs as a resource for giving. To donors who faithfully make a commitment each year, we send a different communication than to those who have never made a commitment. This way our communication feels personal, not like a standard fundraising plea. Our website is also an important tool for providing information to donors.
  • Celebrating Impact and Thanking Donors – Every act of stewardship – no matter the size – leaves a kingdom impact on our church and broader community. Stories of transformation and lives touched are reminders of the profound difference our giving makes.

As a small way of expressing gratitude to donors who turn in a commitment card, we give each a Resurrection coffee mug along with a personalized thank you letter. Throughout the year, we continue sending personalized thank you notes to donors who make their first gift, make a large gift, or complete their commitment card.

Most donors want to be generous. They want to be part of helping meet the needs of their community. But they need to be asked. When we embrace stewardship – and, yes, talk about money – we embrace our calling to be faithful stewards of God’s gifts.

We will continue to explore strategies and principles for building a Culture of Generosity at Leadership Institute 2024. Join Resurrection Donor Relations for a Pre-Conference Workshop that will include practical and actionable ideas to guide your generosity and development planning. Register now!

Debi Nixon serves as the Executive Director of the Resurrection Foundation and Donor Relations. She is passionate about helping others experience the radical love of Jesus through hospitality and about helping others steward their resources and gifts for greatest kingdom impact. Debi and her husband Reed enjoy being at the lake, taking walks, and time with their two grown children. But if you want to know her true joy…ask about her grandchildren!