The concept of stewardship is more than preparing numbers from your balance sheet or reporting how many kids have been served this year. It’s the difference between a thriving church and one that’s on life-support. The heart of stewardship is the careful nurturing of the trust that others have placed in you.
And, as with all personal relationships, so much of trust boils down to how well we communicate. One of the most crucial elements of being a good steward of your ministry to your givers and to your community is clear, consistent communication.
But clear communication is only the beginning.
In today’s world, transparency isn’t just a nice thing that really great ministries do — it’s a non-negotiable requirement of good communication and stewardship. Transparency builds confidence. Confidence builds trust. And trust builds long-term advocates and increased commitment.
So, how do you go about building clear, consistent communication with your current and future advocates? You can be confidently transparent, uniquely you, without looking like you are trying to impress.
Here are 4 principles of transparent communication with your givers that builds trust:
1. Be Unique
You were not created on an assembly line – so why do the same with your church?
What is it that makes your church different from others like yours? Let that shine through in how you talk about what you do.
- Are you community focused?
- Are you missions minded?
- Are you supporting young families?
- Are you encouraging senior members to mentor others?
Share your church’s God-given calling that inspires what you do each day.
2. Be Accountable
Most of us have heard of Compassion International. They serve and care for 1.5 million children worldwide.
They have come to know each child, their family and their communities to the extent that most nonprofits never venture by tracking four key life components of the children in their care – their physical, spiritual, social and intellectual well-being.
Can you say the same about your community, your events or impact? Start by defining three to four key measurements that you measure and report on. Accountability and transparency are the foundation in being a good steward.
3. Be Honest
Effective churches are that way because they have experimented through trial and error. Don’t be afraid to share with your members when things don’t go as planned. It shows that you are transparent, honest and (believably) human.
Just because something didn’t work, it doesn’t mean it’s not a great learning experience for the next time. Just because you failed to reach your giving campaign goal, it doesn’t mean that you’re a failure.
No one expects perfection. However, if that is all that they see, they will become suspicious. Don’t be afraid to own your mistakes. Your community will thank you for it.
4. Be Persistent
The last time you tried to learn something – math, foreign language, piano, or how to use new technology – how long did it take to catch on?
Effective communication and stewardship are the same way. While a giving campaign might be a “one and done” situation, connecting with people takes time and consistency in the message. Remember how Jesus told us the Kingdom would grow inside of people.
“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches,” Matthew 13: 31-32.
Jesus’ model is that you’ve got to keep throwing out the seed and trust God for the harvest…over time.
If you talk to a local pastor, they will tell you that, on average, people need to hear the message seven or more times before they will remember it – even more before they begin to act on it.
So, do not expect a single campaign or an email to do it. Stay the course.
No matter the size or reach of your church, you can practice the skill of clear and consistent giver communication.
Developing the practice of effective communication has the potential to be the largest catalyst for your church’s health. Don’t leave it open to interpretation. Churches that implement the principles of clear and transparent communication develop the trust and respect of their donors.
For more information about giving, The Giving Crowd just recently published an eBook “The 5 Myths of Asset Based Giving” to walk nonprofit leaders through common misperceptions and the truth. You can download that here.