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Letter to a new priest or lay person beginning stewardship work

Letter to a new priest or lay person beginning stewardship work

Fearless Fundraising #23

“Fearless Fundraising” is a series on church fundraising by Charles LaFond, an Episcopal Priest, author and master potter living on a farm in New Mexico. Charles is the author of many books including Fearless Church Fundraising and now, Fearless Major Gifts: Inspiring Meaning-making. For more information, videos and model documents go to


Welcome to this beautiful work of fundraising for mission.


There is one single priority and that is to midwife the conversation between donors and prospective donors which leads to friendship with the parish and a financial gift to our mission.  We are essentialists.  We seek to do less, but better.


Whatever is needed to accomplish the financial goal is the top priority.  All other work and requests are secondary to this one goal.  At the beginning, learn the craft and the trade and get back-up and support in data entry and data management alongside donor gift stewardship (how gifts are cared for) and donor acknowledgment (how the donors are thanked 5-7 times in a year, the first thank-you being human, and immediate.)


A key job will be to identify and research the top pledgers, donors and prospects (not suspects) who can give what they are able and, with care, to find those able to give $1,000 or more after sufficient visits and friendship-development. Your biggest asset will be follow-up.  Our biggest threat will be lethargy, distraction or scarcity (fear.)


Your top methods of doing this work will be cheerfulness, honesty, kindness and attention to detail.  Keep short accounts – so that if anyone becomes us annoyed, angry or is offended you can sit down and discuss the stories in our heads until everyone has clarity and whomever needs to apologize has done so; and that apology accepted. Hopefully this can always be done on the same day as the negative feeling, and before the end of the business day, no matter what needs to be cancelled in order to accomplish it.


You are a part of an Advancement Team in this church. “Advancement” is the umbrella term for the various tasks and departments which coalesce around development (fundraising or pledging or stewardship) and contribute to resource development for mission.  Jesus was clear about asking for money and so are we.  It is a ministry to those needing to give some of theirs away. The development (stewardship) task (and the associated “Development (stewardship) Committee” is tasked with one thing: raising then money needed in 2018, mostly through major gift development (person-to-person asks.) Alongside that work is the data management, donor acknowledgment and donor relations which will precede, support and accompany the work of asking for gifts.


Alongside the development work there is other work which goes into supporting development and that work includes, grants research and writing, communications, preaching and teaching, social media, branding, special events, case development (the Why) and volunteerism (raising people.)


We are midwives – holding a proverbial towel and bowl of hot water – helping the donor’s birth of meaning-making.


Welcome to this important work.


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