As 2021 ends, nonprofits are discussing how best to solicit end-of-year gifts. Most often, the discussion centers on methods of giving such as taxes and retirement accounts. But, during the Christmas season, we believe a focus on stewardship – the heart of giving – serves to enhance year-end fundraising.
The United States Catholic Conference of Bishops unveiled four tenets that define stewards: Our lives, and all that we have, are gifts from our loving God. As stewards of God’s gifts, we take care of what we have and generously share it with others. Seeing everything before us as gift – whether sparse or bountiful – we joyfully accept the responsibility to grow and return them to God.
Stewardship is about adopting an attitude of gratitude. Freed from the notion that acquiring more and more material goods makes us happy, we experience the deep-seated joy that comes from developing, using and sharing our gifts. Embracing stewardship, we find ourselves serving others.
Seeing through the lens of stewardship changes our vision about our projects and constituents, and how we invite the latter’s support. Instead of focusing on the ‘method’ lens, we look through the ‘heart’ lens – sharing how addressing the need will serve others. Our goal becomes inspiring one another to share our gifts and talents as members of the community.
As Fr. Henri Nouwen said, “we have a vision that is amazing and exciting. We are inviting you to invest yourself through the resources that God has given you – your energy, your prayers, and your money – in this work to which God has called us.”
Transforming others to adopt a life of stewardship does not happen overnight. A good place to start today is to frame your year-end-giving appeal in the language of stewardship; begin including stewardship tenets as a part of all meetings and the fabric of the organization’s work; be intentional; and understand that this is a journey for everyone.
If you have questions about stewardship campaigns or need help with other strategies to achieve your organization’s goals, please contact me.