Every year we see new trends — cars, fashion, technology — we even add new words to our vocabulary. Some trends are fleeting but others become a long-term classic like cellular phones, Facebook or a 1960s muscle car.
The Church has its own share of leadership, growth strategy, and ministry program trends, too.
So when it comes to asset-based stewardship strategies, many churches struggle with determining if this will garner long-term impact.
Let me start by helping you understand what I mean by “asset-based stewardship.” It’s a strategy which, done properly, helps people understand what it looks like to steward what God has entrusted to us in our estates and in our investments as opposed to our bank accounts. Executed well, asset-based stewardship results in both current and long-term ministry funding, which can be exponentially more impactful than what is possible through cash-based stewardship.
In addition to basic misunderstandings about the concept, one of the greatest obstacles to adoption and success in the church community boils down to a single question….
Does this help us SERVE our people or is it just a new approach to fundraising?
Of course, there are several significant benefits of asset-based stewardship strategies:
- Asset-based giving can result in significant gifts both today and in the future.
- Asset-based giving may lead to ministry-changing gifts.
- Asset-based giving allows the giver to tap into a much larger pool of resources.
Right away, you can see how asset-based stewardship strategies have the potential to change how people think about and act upon the desire to be generous. The increase in ministry funding alone is enough to get any church excited about implementing an asset-based fundraising strategy.
But for long-term Kingdom impact to occur with our asset-based strategy, we must stop a moment to gauge the motives of our heart.
Colleges, health institutions or well-known nonprofits request funds on a regular basis—and asset-based stewardship is just one of the tools they use. Their donor base is not surprised when approached for a non-cash gift such as stocks, real estate, or mineral rights.
However, a church or a church-based organization must take a different approach. In fact, the direct appeal used by other nonprofits might not always be the best approach.
That’s because the Church is more than a cause—it’s a community.
And a divine one at that… led by none other than the Son of God Himself.
Within the Church, the key is to move beyond a simple appeal and help people see how giving out of assets helps them become more deeply involved in the work of your ministry.
How do you ensure that your heart and your ministry are positioned correctly to fulfill this tall order? These five tests can lead us to the answer:
Test #1: Is your church known for its generosity?
Are you and your congregation already investing in the lives of the community outside the church walls in a meaningful way?
If so, how well are you telling that story?
Test #2: Does your church participate in open-handed giving?
Do you encourage your congregation to donate to other organizations?
What is your response to hearing that news?
Test #3: What is the condition of the heart of the “asker”?
Consider the individuals tasked with being the face of the organization to the potential donors: Are they good stewards? Reputable?
Do they have a healthy view of “wealth”?
Test #4: How is the church going to use the money?
Is it going to salaries or overhead? Or will it be going to something else? Does this “something else” align with the values, goals or desires of the giver?
How transparent are you being with your congregation about how funds are used?
Test #5: Are you an equipping church (Eph. 4) in other ways?
Is your church already supporting and equipping as outlined in Ephesians 4 or would the asset-based stewardship appear to be disjointed from the church’s heartbeat?
If you thoughtfully answer the five questions posed here, you’ll see that asset-based giving can be an integral part of your church and not a trend. It can be sustained to give you long-term results if it fits the cultural heartbeat of your church, embodying integrity and consistency.
Here is a great example: There was one such moment that came to one of the ministries with whom we partner with at The Giving Crowd. An individual was retiring and wanted to make a sizable donation from their stock portfolio to assist the ministry to pay down a significant debt. It blessed the church because it lessened the deficit. It blessed the donor by alleviating the individual’s tax bill.
How did something this incredible happen?
This gift was made possible by a mindset and heartbeat that permeates the leadership and staff of this church: Every member of their congregation is someone to be served, not someone to serve them.
How do we know this?
Because everyone on that leadership and staff could answer each one of the above five questions. This wasn’t a fad or a trend for them. It was a heart-level commitment that spurred a game-changing gift that blessed many and will never be forgotten.
Putting It into Action
So, what about your organization? Where is the heartbeat of your team?
There are individuals in your community who can bless you in a significant way. Are you purposeful about serving them?
If you’d like to learn more about integrating asset-based fundraising into your church fundraising strategy, Steve Caton is the President of The Giving Crowd and regularly writes about stewardship and fundraising on The Giving Crowd blog.