Generosity and Stewardship

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. John 3:16

Often people think that stewardship involves asking the congregation for money every so often – particularly if there is a financial crisis in the parish.  However, there is much more to stewardship than money. 

Everything we have comes from God – our families and friends, the world we live in, all our possessions and money as well.  God even gave his own son, for our salvation and is an example of his unbounding love and generosity.

Stewardship isn’t about money.                                                           CartoonChurch.com     

It is about generosity.  It is about faith and discipleship.                                                                                                   

It’s God’s generosity that demands a response -  to say thank you, to nurture those gifts and to give something back to God, our neighbours, communities and environment.  Generosity is rooted in our relationship with one another and with God.  That generosity gives everyone an opportunity to share in the mission of Christ and the ministry which supports that mission.

I am the vine, you are the branches.  Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.  John 15:5

Encouraging giving in tough times

The COVID-19 pandemic has led us into a very difficult time in the life of our nation and of our Church.  The suspension of public worship and closure of our church buildings, loss of income from cash collections, envelopes, occasional offices, fundraising events and hall lettings will have a huge impact on the income of our parish churches.

As Archbishop Justin has recently said, the Church of England is not closing down – but Church is changing. This has to be so if the Church of England is to continue to be the Church for England - our ministry is now needed more than ever in so many different ways.

There are some things we can do to soften the impact of the COVID-19 virus on our church’s finances.  It is an oppportuity to communicate with our church family, to tell them what is going on and to consider how they can play a role in supporting their church and its ministry through these tough times and into a brighter, stronger future. 

It is also a time to think about the ways in which people give to the church, and how we need to change in response to this new way of doing church.

Why do people give to Church, what will stop them and how can we encourage them?

If you want to encourage your church family to give, remember to:

  • tell them where the money will go,
  • show them that you can manage their money,
  • lead by example with your own generous giving,
  • make it as easy as possible to give.

Here’s a checklist of things to do to mitigate the worst effects of COVID-19:

  • Communicate to your parish the impact that COVID-19 is having on the financial situation of your parish, clearly and transparently – if people don’t understand the need they can’t respond.
  • Make sure you are set up for online giving, encourage people to use it and keep all your avenues of digital communication up to date.
  • Encourage envelope and plate givers to move to standing orders (even if it is just for now).
  • Provide an opportunity to give in an online ‘offertory’ during streamed services.
  • Encourage one-off donations in addition to regular planned giving.
  • Think about how you can make up lost income from fundraising events.
  • Check that your Gift Aid and GASDS claims are up to date.
  • Make the most of the excellent resources to be found on the Parish Resources website.www.parishresources.org.uk

Keeping connected – going digital in an age of isolation

While no one is in church at the moment, most of us are online.  We are shopping online and surfing the internet.  Providers like Zoom have enabled us to work virtually, meet one another and socialise and, of course stream our church services.  We can also give online, and the evidence is there that churches which are enabling online donations are getting more money coming in.

The video in this link will take you through setting up an online account, step by step.

This link has plenty of information about how to encourage online giving.

You set up your online giving through the Parish Buying service.  There is more information here: and here

For a table showing all the online giving providers, including the costs, look here

Thanks!  And what next?

Things will still be difficult for a while, and being shut out of our churches is really tough.  It is worth asking however where God wants us to be at the moment.  Where is this leading?  What does the Bible say about generosity and giving and are we, as a parish, living up to that?

What we are doing with the gifts that God has given us, whether it is our time, our money or our skills; are we giving with a joyful heart, a real joyful heart.  Not from leftovers.

Remember to thank your donors, individually, letting them see the difference which their money has made.  Just as we appreciate the gifts which we are given, our givers really need to feel appreciated at this time, and we can look forward to being together again soon.

More giving and stewardship resources

The Diocese of Liverpool has a very comprehensive website covering just about anything you can think of in relations to generosity and giving.  It can be found at www.givingingrace.org.uk

The Church of England’s co-operative buying service negotiates good deals on everything from online resources to energy to stationery and fire safety:  www.parishbuying.org.uk

Stewardship is a charity which promotes generous and tax-free giving.  They produce some good free resources on different aspects of financial stewardship and discipleship.  You can find them at www.stewardship.org.uk

Grant funding

The Diocese of Rochester has established a Covid-19 Emergency Relief Fund to help parishes in difficulties over the current situation.  Information can be found here: 

Ecclesiastical Insurance has produced some very good guidance on grant funding.  As well as lists of trusts and advice on writing applications there are tips for churches fundraising during the COVID 19 crisis.  https://www.ecclesiastical.com/church/fundraising/

If you are running a church project which has been affected by Coronavirus a number of charities have made funding available to fill in the gap.  Most of these won’t be relevant to church groups, but for those running community based projects there may be something here:  https://www.grantsonline.org.uk/coronavirus.html

Stewardship campaigns

A giving campaign is an effective way to encourage people to review their giving, set up a standing order and sign up for Gift Aid.  They can make a real difference to parish finances.  Here is guidance on running a giving campaign:

Running a stewardship campaign

Here are some templates for brochures and forms.  You can use them as they are, or adapt them for your church.

At the centre of a giving campaign is a presentation to your congregation.  This is usually during the main Sunday Service, but can be done at other times, to suit your particular circumstances
Stewardship presentation

After the presentation it is important to follow up with people who haven’t responded.  It can be done tactfully, and will work wonders for the effectiveness of your campaign.  Here are some suggestions on how to go about it.
Follow up guidance

Worship Resources

There are well over 2,000 verses in the Bible about money, wealth and possessions.  You can find some scripture readings on giving and generosity here

For hymn suggestions relating to generosity and stewardship click here

Legacies

Our churches are very important to our congregations, and many people want to leave a gift to their parish church in their will. Every year PCCs across the country receive around £45 million from legacy giving – an average of £3,000 per parish each year, and these legacies make a huge difference to many churches’ mission and ministry.

There is also a spiritual side to leaving something to the church. We are reminded that everything we have in this life has been given to us by God, so we may wish to give something back.

Your church PCC needs to agree a policy on how legacy income will be spent. Many people will gladly leave a gift in their will if they know the money will be used for a mission project, or to improve the building or facilities, but would be less keen for their gift being used just to fund every day running costs.  There is a template policy, which you can use as a starting point.

It’s helpful to have some low-key leaflets available at all times in your church.  An example which can be altered to suit is here or the Church of England has produced some materials, available at https://www.churchprinthub.org/?cat=460, mostly for free.

https://www.churchlegacy.org.uk/ is the Church of England’s legacy website.

A Powerpoint presentation is available here, which can be used for further information.

Friends Groups

In many places people don’t go to church but really value the church building for its history, architecture and beauty.  They may not value the ministry which goes on inside the building (unless they want to get married there, or have a funeral), but if the church building was closed they would be up in arms. 

This is where Friends Groups are useful.  These groups exist to raise funds for the fabric of the church and in doing so take pressure off the small congregations whose responsibility it is to maintain the building.  Everything you need to know can be found at https://www.parishresources.org.uk/friends-schemes/

Get in contact

If you would like further support with your stewardship and fundraising, please contact:

  • Liz Mullins, Stewardship Advisor on: liz.mullins@rochester.anglican.org

(Please note Liz works part-time so may not pick up your email immediately)




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