Generosity During Coronavirus
During these uncertain days of new challenges and new ways of doing ministry, our synod wants to encourage every member to LIVE IN GENEROSITY, where and when you can. Generosity to share food and necessary items with your local pantry and meal program serving folks who are food challenged, especially during these times of crisis. Generosity to reach out via a call, a card or an email to someone who is isolated and lonely. Generosity to be kind to yourself when you are anxious and worried, Generosity to continue to financially give to your congregation however knowing that if you are strained by the impact of Covid-19, don’t worry about your giving now. Yet if you are able to give, your faithful, regular gifts make a difference especially at this time. Congregations are not closed but have ministries, agencies and people who rely on the support, both within and outside your congregation. Our work in God’s kingdom relies on our collective generosity.
We realize there are many concerns about Financial Practices. We have collated this Financial Best Practices document. Please review and if you have any questions, feel free to send Karen Kretschmannn a request here and she will be in touch!
These uncertain times give us an opportunity to try new things, share amazing generosity, communicate ministry impact and experience God’s abundant love. The church is not closed, more than ever we are living out BEING CHURCH. Our members need to know we believe in them, that we are encouraged by the many ways they can and are engaging, connecting, giving – as they can. We must communicate stories of how God is using your congregation during this time and connect an invitation to generosity to each story. Stories that keep Jesus in the narrative, share faith encounters and move people to action!
Now is the time to keep offering central to your online worship formats, clearly communicate with your members about they ways they can give. We need to be INTENTIONAL, INSPIRATIONAL & INFORMATIONAL. Intentional means thankful, clear, sacred and not goading or desperate. Inspirational means sharing impact, life changing, relational, and invitational. Informational means being abundantly clear about the ways to be generous and give – provide the online link, remind folks that giving envelopes have church address printed ready to mail, send a letter sharing every way someone can give and include a few self addressed stamped envelopes (here is a sample communication). You get the idea. Engage, Connect, Ask! But yes, be aware that some of our members will not be able to give at this time, but others can be extra generous, if we only ask. If you are looking for ways to successfully do an offering talk during online worship, here is a resource from Generis providing wording and format during the offering in an online format.
It is a priority that congregations have E-Giving available for members as well as folks attending your online worship or gatherings. If you are seeking an online giving platform, the ELCA has Preferred Vendor agreements with Vanco and Tithe.ly. These are secure trusted partners. Here is a Comparison Chart or Check out this site for more info or contact Karen Kretschmann to discuss.
Please also stay connected with your members. Do relational “check ins”. These can be by phone, facebook live, email and should include questions like “what generosity have you seen during this time?” Please do this with all members but our fundraising experts remind us that our top givers and our church council leadership are important to check in with, both relationally and financially. Often they are the folks who fund 30%-50% of a congregations income and we need them to know they matter, they make a difference, and their collective generosity will allow your congregation to thrive during these difficult times.
There are a lot of incredible resources being shared at this time.
There is an abundance of information and resources on the 2020 CARES Act. It does appear that churches and non-profits may be able to borrow money that could be forgiven depending on how they maintain their previous 12-month staffing levels through June. Eligible churches and non-profits will be able to borrow up to 2.5 times their average monthly payrolls and benefits up to $100,000 per employee. Funds can be used to cover payroll, benefits, employer payroll taxes, rent/mortgage payments, utilities and interest on existing debt. It is important that our churches be ready for when the loans are available. The loans will be administered by local SBA approved banks, so it would be good to contact your local bank if this is something in which we are interested as some banks already have a queue of businesses waiting “in line.” Here are a number of useful links:
- Delaware-Maryland Synod Suggested CARES Act Starting Point by the Rev. Dave Shank
- April 3, 2020 Portico Benefit Services: What Recent Legislation Means for You fact sheet including useful information on individual and employer opportunities
- SBA Faith-Based Organizations FAQ resource: https://media.myworshiptimes4.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/57/2020/04/06095026/SBA-Faith-Based-FAQ-Final.pdf
- ELCA April 6, 2020 Paycheck Protection Program FAQ: https://media.myworshiptimes4.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/57/2020/04/06163452/ELCA-FAQ_on_PPP_Loans.pdf as well as March 30, 2020 Update and Resources on COVID-19-related Benefits for ELCA Congregations, Synods, Other Ministries and their Employees
- Payroll Protection Loans Basic Information and Steps to Get Started
- US Chamber of Commerce Coronavirus Emergency Loans
- Presentation slides on Churches and the CARES Act: Helping Congregations and Employees Weather the Cash Crunch
- Sample Paycheck Protection Program Application
- Horizon Stewardship Resilient Leaders has curated a comprehensive list of resources about the CARES Act and Paycheck Protection Program here.
- As you talk about giving, note that The CARES Act has a provision for Charitable Contribution Incentives and encourages individuals to contribute to religious and other charitable organizations by creating a new “above the line” deduction (i.e. for taxpayers who take the standard deduction). This deduction will permit them to deduct up to $300 of annual monetary contributions. It also increases the limitations on deductions for charitable contributions by individuals who itemize, as well as corporations. For individuals, the 50% of adjusted gross income limitation is suspended for cash contributions made in 2020.
Here are additional ways to continue to lift up giving and keep offering active and alive even in virtual gatherings. The Rev. Scott McKenzie, a colleague at Horizon Stewardship, shares these ideas
- Many live streams of worship have a fairly low key offertory announcement if any, for their online audience. Consider directly addressing your online audience during the live stream and have very specific and easy ways for your online audience to give. If you offer text to give scroll the number. Be intentional about making the invitation to give. And as always, share a ministry story—especially how ministry is continuing during this crisis. You can also pause the online streaming and insert a special video message just for your online audience and make the ask.
- Please check out this article from Horizon Stewardship with additional tips: https://horizons.net/what-churches-can-do-to-stay-connected-during-coronavirus/?mc_cid=d5a041a3b1&mc_eid=aefc9351f8
- With all the email communication being done, consider a video email with a short but personal video message. Click rates are higher when the message includes a video so in the subject line include something like: A Personal Video Message from Pastor…
- A very important suggestion: several churches have confirmed that they have Business Interruption riders as part of their insurance and disease is included. Check into whether this is an option for your congregation for lost income during this time.
Another honored to partner, Linda Staats, ELCA Director of The Generosity Project, shares these important words and resources:
1. One tool as part of The Generosity Project is the take it home resource, LIVE IT OUT! This is being offered for FREE during this time. Read the LIVE IT OUT cover letter and check out the at home LIVE IT OUT Guide.
We know that examples of generosity breed more generosity. We also know that the virus – and fear, are contagious. Is there still a place for living out & modeling the teaching points of The Generosity Project – for instance, Share. Save. Spend? How do we responsibly SHARE and care for one another in these anxious times? How do we responsibly SAVE (stock up 2-weeks worth of supplies, not a year’s worth). And how will the very real challenge to people’s income effect how our households, those in our communities of faith, and neighbors SPEND and pay basic bills. How can you have a culture and trusted virtual space where these conversations can take place? The attached link is to my personal blog. It is an attempt to curate resources that have been shared this week by friends and colleagues, many from leaders in cross+generational ministry. Let us remember that we are the light of Christ. May each generation reflect God’s grace and generosity as God’s faithful stewards in these challenging times. http://homegrownfaith.net/coronavirus-resources-for-home-congregation/
Discipleship Ministries provides some practical suggestions in this article 10 Ideas for Church Financial Leaders Amid the COVID-19 Crisis.
We will continue to add resources as they come available. If you have questions contact Karen at [email protected]
LEADING A CULTURE OF YEAR-ROUND GENEROSITY:
Empowering Congregational Generosity & Stewardship teams
NOTE DURING THIS UNCERTIAN TIME OF COVID-19; we HAVE CANCELED THE MARCH 28th TRAINING DATE. WE do hope to GATHER ON April 25th and may 16th in some format. BLESSINGS AND PRAYERS.
Offered in the Delaware-Maryland Synod at St. John Lutheran Church, Linthicum
Questions contact Karen at [email protected]
Congregational stewardship begins with a healthy understanding of gratitude and generosity. We have first received and therefore we give. Developing a culture of gratitude and generosity is the focus for growing stewards in many congregations. Through the study of Scripture, we develop a trust in God’s abundance and strive to be faithful disciples and stewards. The formation of these stewards is a lifelong journey, and one in which we accompany each other.
We faithfully steward the gifts God has so abundantly given to us. Although some think of stewardship as only a financial response to God’s love, stewardship encompasses so much more than money. It is about how we use all that God has entrusted to our care — our time, our talents and our treasures — to love God and our neighbors, both inside and outside of the church walls and our homes.
- Lenten Living Generously Interactive Prayer Station project: Learn how to set up a weekly interactive prayer station for members to explore and pray about starting on Ash Wednesday going through Lent.
- Stewardship 101: An Invitation to Financial Stewardship: This free e-book brings together perspectives on generosity, abundance, financial management, and electronic giving. The authors invite you to ponder the intersections of stewardship and mission, to explore what it means to cultivate a culture of gratitude, to recognize the power of effective storytelling, and to consider how stewardship might shape all of life, not just the money one gives to the church.
- Check out this article: “We Have What We Need” by Melissa Spas. Consider how we can practice the shift from a mindset of scarcity to an expectation of sufficiency in light of the promise that God would wish for us to “have life, and have it abundantly”? We can do this by learning to identify assets anew, as a practice of our faith.
- 5 Practical Ways to Make Generosity a Priority in 2020: Explore how making a shift in the giving culture of your church will mean more disciples and more ministry. When these are aligned you will change the tenor of conversation at the leadership table from, “What do we have to do to survive?” to “What is God calling us to do next?” And that changes everything.
- 51 Ideas For A Year-Round Stewardship Program: This collection of ideas, created by the United Methodist Foundation of Louisiana, provides easy to implement practices for year-round stewardship and generosity.
- Delaware-Maryland Synod Offering Celebration of Abundance and Generosity: A easy guide for creating an engaging and impactful offering during service.
- 50 Ways to Improve Your Annual Stewardship Campaign: A powerful list of ideas and strategies to make a successful annual campaign, by the Lewis Center for Church Leadership
- ELCA Stewards of God’s Love: a resource designed to equip you with themed activities, Bible verses, best practices and new ideas to ignite year-round stewardship in your congregation.
- The Generosity Project: This fun and engaging curriculum connects generations in our congregations and equips households as centers for faith practice in generosity. Many resources are available to offer this as 6 sessions and include great take-home activities to Live It Out! Feel free to contact Karen at [email protected] to ask about partnering to offer!
Luther Seminary Faith-Lead:Center for Stewardship Leaders is a learning hub where Christian public leaders discover how to deepen spiritual formation, engage is vital stewardship practices, build community, faithfully innovate, form disciples, and create and manage new models of ministry.
Every quarter, our ELCA Stewardship staff provide news and inspiration on good stewardship practices, books and resources. Check out the Fall 2019 edition!