How to grow good stewards

Published October 1, 2006

Dear editor,
Re: Donations are our thanks to God (June letters). From a practical standpoint, it is inconceivable that the church would adopt fundraising models that are grounded in traditional Western economics and are so similar to those of other not-for-profit agencies, yet leave out a key element like donor recognition. Either the church is actively engaged in fundraising endeavours that involve the communication of dollars and cents, or it isn’t. If it is, then the approach should, at a bare minimum, include basic prescribed best practices for fundraising organizations, which includes saying “thank-you” on a regular basis. The National Study on Giving Volunteering and Participating tells us that those who support mainline Protestant churches tend to give equal, and sometimes slightly greater financial and volunteer support to secular not-for-profit organizations in their communities. Accordingly, these donors are already accustomed to thanks and recognition programs, and will become increasingly more so in the coming years as competition amongst charitable agencies continues to grow.

From a more philosophical standpoint, some would argue that the church has a moral responsibility to grow and nurture the generosity of its adherents, both financially and spiritually. If that is true, then how does one even begin to grow and nurture the complete picture of generosity in an individual, without saying “thank you?”

In the last five years I have received several tax receipts in the mail from three different Anglican churches for my yearly gifts. I have yet to receive even one message of thanks, which could have easily been enclosed with those same receipts at no additional cost to the parish. While I understand many congregations do give thanks it is sad to know that many more do not. If we are to grow good stewards then we need to begin with a stewardship 101 lesson in our own backyards, which starts with creating a culture of thanks and appreciation.

Michelle Hauser
Stewardship, Program and Education Co-ordinator
Diocese of Ontario
Kingston, Ont.


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