If we celebrate or recognize Thanksgiving in our churches, it’s often expressed through acts of service – community dinners for those in need or with no family in town, deliveries of food boxes or turkeys, or worship services for shut-ins. I’d like to suggest you consider adding a new audience to those recipients of our acts of Thanksgiving service: volunteers and donors.
As part of our series of 25 fundraising ideas for churches, we’re exploring ways you can build your stewardship program. Today’s concept is extending the concept of gratitude at Thanksgiving to our donors and givers. Like all of our ideas in this series, it doesn’t have to be complicated or cumbersome. This is just one more tool in your toolbox you can consider as you plan ways to cultivate and grow the passion of your donors and volunteers for your church and its mission.
Here are some simple ideas to get you thinking about what might work well for your congregation. Give thought to small groups, adult Bible studies, or men’s or women’s fellowship groups who might be looking for a project – any of these could be a great fit for their leadership and ownership.
Thank you calls. Gather a group of church leaders willing to spend an hour making calls to thank your church’s donors. Bring in lunch or dinner and give each caller a brief script (sample below) and a list of 5-10 donors/tithers. In many cases, callers just end up leaving a voicemail expressing gratitude to donors for their faithfulness. This will be an unexpected and meaningful expression of thanks to your donors. I’d also suggest you consider doing the same for your key volunteers.
“Hello! This is Anita calling from Grace Church – a group of us are joining our pastor today in reaching out with a thank you call to all of our donors whose giving makes this church possible. So, I just want to say thank you on behalf of everyone at Grace for your generosity and faithfulness to God’s mission in the world through this church. Thank you, and happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.”
Thank you notes. A twist on the idea above is to gather a group willing to sign cards for donors and volunteers. One nonprofit I know made a habit of this each year at Thanksgiving – their volunteers and donors receive a card filled with signatures and personal notes from all those they’d worked with the prior year on committees or on the staff.
Special recognition. Consider adding a gratitude component for donors during the worship service prior to the holiday. This could be as simple as a recognition moment or slide, or it could be a small token of acknowledgment to those who’ve given faithfully this past year. Some churches annually provide a coaster or mug to those who make a pledge during their stewardship drive…this could be a time to amplify that tradition into a true gratitude moment.
Again, any simple small gesture you add to your calendar this year will be another step in deepening donor passion and honoring their gifts.
If you’d like guidance on this or any other fundraising topic, we’re here to help. Our partnership with ACST enables us to come alongside churches looking for help in growing their donor commitments.
About Tim Smith
Tim has over 30 years of experience in Church, Non-Profit Administration, Management, and Fund Development. Serving as an Executive Pastor and Chief Development Officer in growing Churches and Non-Profit Organizations. He has provided a wide range of expertise and resources. Tim serves as the Founder and CEO of Non-Profit DNA. A boutique firm committed to helping nonprofits and churches. By building their capacity through fundraising, leadership, team building, staff recruiting, and coaching