Here is the second installment of a series of articles from Wayne Lynch, Executive Consultant.
What is a Proper Climate for Giving?
Definition: A proper climate for giving is one where God’s people experience the joy of giving because they have been moved by the Holy Spirit and challenged to support the Great Commission.
Giving thrives in an atmosphere of trust. Integrity is the oxygen that gives life to donors. The people know they are loved, served, and are serving and loving others. (See Desko –“Building an Atmosphere of Trust.”) The expectancy of God’s work in their lives and how they can impact others are present. They are working toward “excelling in the grace of giving.”
- It’s all about the “Mission.” This is more important than money. The primary reason people give is: they “believe in the mission” of an organization. Therefore, the school must be very clear about its mission and filter all programs and activities through its grid.
- Vision motivates givers and raises money. Clear direction for the future of the school helps excite people about the possibilities of what God can do with their resources.
- Develop and maintain “openness and integrity.” Full honesty and clear communication are absolutely essential. Good school leadership communicates both successes and failures, both good decisions and mistakes.
- Generosity in school leadership. When the school leadership is generous, even though they do not communicate how much they give, the community follows their leadership. All board members must be giving to the school.
- Seek to build “A people of God,” emphasizing the role of Biblical community. Treat all givers and potential givers as being of equal value in God’s sight.
- Teach about giving. A master plan for teaching stewardship principles should include reaching toddlers through senior adults.
- Prayer follows financial investment. This is similar to the principle that where your treasure is your heart will be. People pray for the ministries they have given to support.
- Celebrate successes. Thank donors and volunteers regularly and profusely. Encourage, exhort, and uplift the people. Use testimonials of God’s provision.
- Develop systems of accountability. Regular reporting of the use of funds as directed is absolutely essential.
- No school or ministry has ever survived without money.
A school with a healthy giving climate is characterized by:
- An understanding of the school’s mission
- A clear vision of where the school is headed
- Generous leadership
- A commitment to prayer
- A fully informed community
- Strong accountability
- Godly, stable leadership
- A pattern of negativity. The only time many school communities hear about giving is when the school is behind in their budget or some special project is to be funded. The only printed communication is a statement of the deficit.
- Never mentioning giving. Many consider giving such a private matter that it is ignored altogether. When this happens, the importance of stewardship is minimized. People need training and teaching in biblical stewardship.
- Announcing construction of a new building before firm costs and funding are identified. Many schools will prematurely announce projects and then see the costs continue to increase. The project may then need to be reduced in size so people are disappointed and often lose confidence in leadership.
Critical Guiding Passage of Scripture:
Micah 6:8 – “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
- Compassion, empathy, and sympathy are great ways to encourage people to give.
- Schools should not see themselves in competition with other ministries for the donor’s gifts. The decision to give is between the donor and God. They must follow their heart.
- People don’t like to give to pay off debt or cost overruns.
- Don’t tell people to “Give till it hurts,” tell them to “Give till it feels good.”
- There are more verses in the New Testament on money and material possessions than on Heaven and Hell combined.
- Always use funds exactly as the donor designates. Do not borrow internally from restricted funds. Nothing discourages giving like mistrust.
- Establish a stewardship committee that is responsible for developing a-wide long-range plan for raising money.
- The mission statement should be clearly visible on all church buildings and literature, and be memorized by all leadership and staff.
- The “vision” or direction of the future of the school needs to be clearly understood by the community.
- School leadership should commit themselves to open, honest, positive communication about finances and stewardship.
Schools and churches with the most financial problems usually have debt, instability in leadership and lack of direction. To compensate for this, there is a constant emphasis on the budget – often “how far we are behind” (failing to tell how expenses have been cut or are reduced as well), or that “we only increased the budget 2% this year” (as if there were something spiritual about small increases, when actually small increases usually keep people’s sights low), or using the budget as an excuse for all “no’s” (“it’s not in the budget so we can’t do it,” or, “we’ve used up the budget”). The only time the community hears about giving is when the school is behind in the budget.
The easiest way to destroy an atmosphere of trust is to use a donor’s gift in a way other than what the donor directed. No apology seems to be enough to rebuild the trust. These donors never seem to regain their enthusiasm for giving.
- “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” – Proverbs 29:18
- “An audience that doesn’t pay is very critical.” – George Burns
- “One of the greatest missing teachings in the American Church today is the reminder that nothing we have belongs to us.” – George MacDonald