If you give a wedding gift, you expect to receive a thank-you note. It’s common courtesy. If you don’t give a gift, you generally don’t get a thank-you note. Obvious, right? However, in church giving often nobody gets a thank-you note. Nobody gets thanked. Really. In many churches, donors get an annual receipt with no thank-you letter.
Charities, big and small, usually have people who are involved but who are not part of the annual receipt mailing. This situation is not unique to faith communities – does your organization have board members who don’t give?
Gratitude makes a springboard into generosity
I’m proposing here that everybody gets a thank-you note. Here’s why: gratitude generally and thank-you letters in particular make a good springboard into generosity.
When I propose sending thank-you letters to donors, some church members object. Not everyone gives; not everyone will get a letter. In this way of thinking, silence around giving seems fairer somehow. Silence is certainly easier, but generosity is too important to keep the lid on it.
How can we encourage generosity if we don’t talk about it?
If someone doesn’t give, they don’t get a receipt and they may never be personally asked to give. It’s a fundraising concern for charities of all kinds. How can we promote the spiritual practice of generosity if we don’t talk about it?
In the spirit of the KISS principle (Keep it Simple Steward) I offer a sample thank-you letter for people who didn’t give. This idea comes courtesy of Sherri Grosz from Abundance Canada. I’m thinking of annual receipt time at a church but with a little creativity, this letter could work in other contexts, like after a fundraising event where lots of people were there, but not everyone left a cheque. They might have bought a raffle ticket or something at the bake sale for instance.
Thank you for your support of Peach Blossom. We are glad you are part of our community. So many people take time to listen, to shovel the snow, to wash the dishes after a meal or to share a friendly smile.
Many people contribute cash and food to our monthly food bank offering that helped many families in our neighbourhood have healthy food to eat. Children and adults donated $1,872 to our Christmas giving project to buy coats for refugee families arriving in Canada. Likely you have been part of these projects and we are thankful. Perhaps you put money in the offering plate and we didn’t know your name. Again, we are grateful.
This is the time of year when we send out annual receipts to our donors. These charitable receipts can be used for income tax purposes and depending on your situation, can reduce the amount of income tax you need to pay.
If you would like a tax receipt for your donations in future, we have options.
Envelopes: please donate cash or cheques using the enclosed envelopes, or ask an usher to help you find one. Write your name on the outside and also designate your giving: “food bank”, “Christmas project” etc.
If you don’t designate, we’ll assume your donation supports the general work of the church. Throughout the week, our building provides a welcoming space used by musicians, recovering addicts, knitters and more! Your donations benefit many.
Online: Did you know that you can give to Peach Blossom online using your computer or smart phone? You will receive a receipt via email. Please visit our website at…
Through your bank account: Regular monthly giving makes it easy to give and is now about 40% of our donations at Peach Blossom. We are thrilled when people support the church in this way! Please email... or call…
Thank you for being part of our congregation! We appreciate you. If you need help doing your taxes, or would like to meet with someone to talk, we are here. Please call at …
Blessings to you,
Peach Blossom Church
P.S. Did you know we are hosting afternoon tea next Tuesday and Saturday afternoons? It’s a great chance to chat. Guests welcome!
Make it your own
There’s a 100% chance that this letter needs to be changed. Go ahead and borrow this template if you like, customize it to make it your own. A special version thanking board members would be good.
I am trying to keep this template fairly generic; I’d probably make this letter even ‘churchier’. “Did you know that you can give to Peach Blossom in your will?” would be a good addition and a great topic to discuss at the afternoon tea.
Has your church or charity ever received phone calls from people at tax-time, asking where their receipt is? And it turns out they didn’t give that year, hence no receipt. It’s awkward at best.
A version of this letter could go out in December, reminding people to give before the end of the year. Paying attention to who gives and to who does not yet give (in a receiptable way) matters. Gratitude is always in season.
Lori Guenther Reesor is a fundraising consultant in Mississauga. “Joyful fundraising for churches and charities” is her tagline. She blogs at www.lgreesor.com. Contact her at email@example.com