A Donor Bill of Rights Goes to Church

In 1993, when I was still struggling to learn Hebrew and prepare for my ordination exams, four groups dedicated to philanthropy developed “A Donor’s Bill of Rights.” Take a look at them — I wonder how they might apply in a congregational setting… Thoughts?

For example, number six: “To receive appropriate acknowledgement and recognition.” What does that mean for your congregation? In my day job, we commit to ourselves and our donors that within 48 hours of receiving a donation, a thank you letter is placed in the mail. However, I would think that a church member who puts an offering in the plate every Sunday does not want a letter every week. So, what is appropriate?

And consider this… is it appropriate to send one of those “statements” every quarter. Many churches do this. I just love getting those things – they look like an invoice. Is that how you view the relationship between your members and the congregation? Is that the message you want to send? Let your acknowledgment reflect your mission.

Turn that around — how about a thank you letter every quarter? Tell them you appreciate them as a person, and that their faithful giving makes a difference. They have provided kids with a positive program to attend after school; they have made sure the church was there for grieving families; they have inspired so many people with spiritually vital worship. Tell them how important that is. And, include the same summary as the above-mentioned giving statement contains. But put it in a personal letter.

Take a look at A Donor’s Bill of Rights, and think through each one. Send me an email – I’ll be glad to help you think through what it might mean for your congregation.