This month, we're thinking about thanks... especially for those who support nonprofits in their important work. It's time to think outside the box about stewardship. 


Last month, I attended a unique fundraising event. After a full day of learning about the impact the organization is having and listening to inspiring stories, the host introduced the person who would be presenting the giving opportunities with “…and now it’s time for the Sermon on the Amount!”

The joke was unexpected and delivered perfectly! Laughter rippled across the room, and I braced for something akin to an annual stewardship sermon or the standard year-end letter whose core message is “we need money to meet budget and you need to give more.”

Refreshingly, this stewardship message felt different. Instead of an appeal to give to meet budget, there was an invitation to make a thoughtful investment in a worthy mission.

Stewardship shouldn’t be about raising money. It should be about people. The mistake non-profits and ministries sometimes make is talking to people about giving and money only when they need it. Instead, great stewardship practices should focus on what you want for people to feel a part of, not what you want from people and their wallets. Effective stewardship provides an opportunity to remind people that we will accomplish something amazing when we give and work together. Successful strategies need to communicate the vision, build authentic relationships, engage people in appropriate ways and say thank you.

As you finalize your plans for the coming year, these four reminders may be helpful:

  1. Tell your transformational stories often. Faithful givers of their time, talent and treasure want to know what happens when they give. They want to know the output - a meal, clothing, or a building, but to touch their heart, givers need to embrace the outcome. By sharing your transformational stories often and in multiple ways, people at all giving levels will feel that they are a part of something important and have made a wise giving decision according to their capacity.
  2. Talk about money and giving in relationship to your mission. It takes money to get things done and those with capacity to give are listening for a vision to get excited about and partner in. Instead of talking about money in the context of what you need to meet budget, invite people into partnership in the vision. Consistent messages that your organization is effective, while connecting money and giving to your mission reinforces that the purpose of your organization is to not to spend as little as much as possible, but to spend as much is wise and possible in pursuit of the big, bold vision.
  3. Expand your giving options. The Covid pandemic has accelerated the urgency for digital giving strategies and text, Vemno, PayPal, QR/mobile and other strategies are becoming more common every day. By promoting digital giving opportunities, you’re developing the stewardship muscles of young givers too and inviting them to experience the joy of partnering in a worthy mission that aligns their values and intentions with their practices.
  4. Celebrate every gift and every giver. It takes a village to accomplish a worthy vision. Some givers will fall into the high capacity giving segment, others are your faithful givers in the mid-range, others are taking initial steps in giving to your organization, and others are still moving towards giving and partnership with you. Since stewardship is primarily about people, find a unique way to authentically recognize each of these segments and celebrate the ways every person is contributing to making your vision a reality.

Thinking outside the stewardship box means honoring every giver, helping them to thrive and find joy in partnering with you on the journey toward a better future.


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Posted by Laura DeVries
Laura DeVries

Written by Laura DeVries

With a focus on coaching nonprofits, NGOs and churches, Laura provides strategic insight and guidance to faith-focused organizations who are living out their unique vision and mission.

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