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Choosing the right moment

20 February 2015

After reading one of your recent columns on fund-raising, we realise we also need to address stewardship on an annual basis, and we want to fit stewardship and finance for the building into our calendar without a collision. Can you help?

THE revenue required for running the church on a daily, weekly, and annual basis has to take priority in the calendar. There are timely moments for stewardship renewal. When the annual budget is prepared by the PCC is a good time for setting out the stewardship targets for the year. Some will have this work done in the late autumn, and November is the best month of the year for generosity, so these can work together. But it's not too late.

January is the month of lowest giving to charity; so if you haven't got the stewardship renewal under way yet, spend January and February planning for a spring-renewal campaign. The best programme I have experienced in action is the campaign The Responsibility Is Ours (TRIO), produced by Southwark diocese; but your own diocese probably has an officer who can assist if needed.

One sure method for not inadvertently pressurising churchgoers into giving to a capital or building fund instead of much-needed stewardship is to focus your fund-raising on church and community. Plan events that focus on fun and fund-raising in a programme that appeals to all the people in the area.

Most of the cash raised will be based on people buying what they want, whether a raffle ticket, bric-a-brac, or jumble. This way, churchpeople contribute more in volunteering than in donating more money than they might want to. Some churches are able to ask church members for donations towards capital projects, but, if this is the case, avoid planning a donor campaign too close in time to the stewardship renewal.

So your annual "money" calendar will place first the renewal of stewardship in its prime location; then put in the "cash cows" - the events that always produce a good return - before adding in new ideas. Sales and fairs usually produce more funds than concerts and exhibitions, as the latter require a considerable outlay of effort. But a concert that packs the building may produce good income from ticket sales. If you are holding a music event that has community-wide appeal (such as a concert of Christmas music), it is far better to pass the collection buckets around during the last song than to have a retiring collection.

Making applications to trusts and other outside funders is not time-sensitive as church contributions and local fund-raising are. January, which is a dead month in terms of general donations, would be a good time for a small group to work on a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund, National Churches Trust, and others. Let this small group take a minor part in your fund-raising over the year, as they may have more than used up their time on the fund-raising grant applications.

Send your issues and questions to maggiedurran@virginmedia.com 

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