We hope in this space to begin a larger conversation about the spirituality of stewardship and the ways it forms us as disciples of Christ. At the same time we seek to support you in managing the practical demands of financial stewardship by providing best practices and resources for conducting meaningful and successful campaigns.
We welcome your comments, insights, and suggestions at any time. Contact the Rev. Canon Jimmy Hartley for additional information.
Recommended Stewardship Resources
The Episcopal Network For Stewardship
TENS is an association of church leaders who understand, practice, and proclaim God’s call to generosity and financial stewardship. Visit the TENS website at www.tens.org.
ECF Vital Practices
ECF Vital Practices offers vestry members and other congregational leaders the resources and tools to respond to the changing needs of the Church. Visit the ECF VItal Practices website at www.ecfvp.org.
United Thank Offering's Stewardship Guide
Click here for Building Gratitude and Generosity TogetherGenerosity Together: A Stewardship Guide for Congregations rooted in gratitude from the United Thank Offering
The video series Introducing Stewardship with Kristine Miller from ChurchNext provides an excellent introduction to stewardship, including best practices and common mistakes, and would be time well spent for any stewardship campaign chair or members of a stewardship committee. Allow 45 minutes to one hour.
In his article Transformative Stewardship Calendars, Chris Harris writes, “At its heart, stewardship calls us to a lifetime of discernment around the following question: How do we steward (put to good use) the gifts we’ve been given in all their many forms to do the work that God has given us to do? Many, if not most, parishioners associate stewardship with the church’s fall financial stewardship campaign. How can churches expand the meaning of stewardship and continue teaching about stewardship throughout the year? Chris Harris’ article provides creative ways to incorporate stewardship teaching throughout all the seasons of the church year. Read more >
Theology of Money
How do we become good stewards of our financial resources? Even Jesus Needed Money by Dennis Maynard is an easy-to-read guide for congregations and families who are seeking a theology of stewardship–healthy, realistic practices around spending, saving, and giving. The book would be a great choice for a parent’s forum and could be a recommended resource for individuals or families in need of financial guidance.
The article Dollars and Discipleship says “Stewardship is about using the gifts God gives us to do the work God calls us to do.” How do we align our use of money with our theology and values? How can we shift from “transactional” to “transformational” giving in our churches?
Annual church stewardship campaigns are the primary way churches raise funds to pay for church operations and building maintenance. While these are key reasons for fundraising, regular stewardship campaigns serve the greater work of enabling churches to fulfill their missions and strive to toward their visions of building up God’s kingdom. The stewardship resource New Consecration Sunday describes three types of giving in churches:
- Offerings only (no formal stewardship campaign) – Individuals typically give 1.5% of their income.
- Stewardship campaign with pledges – Individuals tend to give 2.9% of their income. Writing down financial commitments leads to a higher level of giving.
- Percentage contributions – Churches ask: What percentage of your income do you feel God calling you to give? On average, giving increases to 4.6% of income.
Does your church have an annual giving campaign? Have you discovered campaign strategies and/or best practices you would like to share? We would love to post them here.
Stewardship Campaign Resources
Project Resource offers resources on types of giving and strategies for planning a successful annual stewardship campaigns.
The Diocese of Virginia creates wonderful annual campaign resources each year, which are available here.
The Stewardship System from Church Development encompasses a full range of materials for supporting annual stewardship campaigns. It includes a philosophy of giving and useful language for helping parishioners understand the importance of stewardship for their faith journey.
New Consecration Sunday teaches stewardship from a spiritual rather than fundraising perspective, asking the question, What is God calling me to do? Resources include a Guest Leader Guide, Team Member Manual, and CD.
The Best Practices below are drawn from resources provided by the Episcopal Church Foundation.
Before you Begin
- Create an annual stewardship statement that reflects your church’s mission and vision. Angela Emerson in Creating a Culture of Giving suggests considering the following questions as you write your stewardship statement:
- What do I believe about God and money?
- What am I committed to doing about making my faith and my relationship with God a more integral part of how I think and act about financial decisions?
- To what action, process, practice, and/or reflection do I want to invite our congregation?
The resulting three-part statement leads with the statements, “We believe,” “We commit,” and “We invite.” Read more about process for developing a statement >
- Show (preach, teach) how giving supports your congregation’s internal and external ministries.
- Have a plan. Create a timeline for your campaign, including follow-up.
- Decide who will do what and make sure your campaign team has the training it needs before you begin.
- Document campaign goals. Will the campaign fund operations or ministry initiatives as well?
- Be (or become) comfortable talking about money.
- Set up multiple ways to give: envelopes, electronic funds transfer, website, text, stock transfer. Different people and different generations of people will have preferred ways to give. Provide clear instructions for each.
In the Beginning
- Have a set start (kick-off) to your campaign. Support from clergy and leadership should be visible.
- Send each parishioner a letter describing the campaign and how it works. Include your stewardship statement, campaign theme, and campaign goals. Consider adding a personal note.
- Give thanks! Be sure your campaign is joyful and celebratory. This is a time to give thanks for the blessings in individual lives and the life of the parish.
Throughout the Campaign
- Celebrate the mission and ministry of your church.
- Have parishioners give personal testimonials about how the church or a particular ministry has impacted their lives.
- Be transparent about church finances, including the annual budget, campaign goals, and how people’s gifts will be used.
- Give thanks!
At the End
- Have an ingathering of pledges on the final Sunday of the campaign. Be sure you have communicated information about the ingathering.
- Give thanks – for the church; the members, visitors, and guests; the financial gifts; and the work to be done in the year ahead! Have a celebratory brunch or special coffee hour.
- Send thank you letters to each person who has pledged.
- Follow up personally with individuals who have not pledged.
During the Year Ahead
- Send regular statements to each person who has pledged. Statements ensure transparency and serve as a reminder to pay pledges.
What to Do When Pledges Fall Short
Not every stewardship campaign is successful, but there are concrete things you can do to understand why, regroup, make up budget differences, and plan for a more successful campaign next year. Read more now >
Brueggemann, Walter, Money and Possessions, Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2016.
Clif, Christopher J., Not Your Parents Offering Plate: A New Vision for Financial Stewardship, Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2015.
Freeman, Henry B. Unlacing the Heart: Connecting with what Really Matters, Richmond, IN: H. Freeman Associate, LLC, 2015.
James, Russell, Inside the Mind of the Bequest Donor: A Visual Presentation of the Neuroscience and Psychology of Effective Planned Giving Communication, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013.
LaFond, Charles, Fearless Church Fundraising: The Practical and Spiritual Approach to Stewardship, Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse Publishing, 2013.
Mesler, Joseph B. translator, Moses Maimonides’ Treatise on Tzedakah: Laws Concerning Gifts to the Poor, Department of Religion, College of William and Mary, 2003.
Nouwen, Henri, The Spirituality of Fundraising, Nashville: Upper Room Books. 2011.
Robinson, Kerry Alys, Imagining Abundance: Fundraising, Philanthropy, and a Spiritual Call to Service, Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2014
Shaw, Haydon, Generational IQ: Christianity Isn’t Dying, Millennials Are Not the Problem, and the Future Is Bright, Carol Stream, IL, Tyndale House Publishers, 2015.
Slaughter, Mike, The Christian Wallet, Westminster/John Knox Press, 2016
Smith, Bradford, Shue Sylvia, Vest, Jennifer Lisa and Villarreal Joseph, Philanthropy in Communities of Color, Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1999.
Walker, Wyatt Tee, Common Thieves! A Tithing Manual for Black Christians and Others, Martin Luther King’s Fellows Press, 1991.
Cultures of Giving: Energizing and Expanding Philanthropy by and for Communities of Color: http://www.latinocf.org/ pdf/Cultures-of-Giving_Energizing-and-Expanding-Philanthropy-by-and-for-Communities-of-Color.pdf
Philanthropy and the Black Church: https://www.learningtogive.org/resources/philanthropy-and-black-church Generational Characteristics from 2001 to 2017 http://www.pewresearch.org/category/publications/
- Self and Group Reflection Questions
- Changes in Giving (PowerPoint presentation)
- Generational Characteristics (PowerPoint presentation)
- Project Resource manual
- Sample Gift Acceptance Policy
- Sample Gift of Stock Policy
- Narrative Budget Sample