“When I was a young man I was too shy to kiss my best girl. Boy was I hopping mad when I found out that she wasn’t shy and had been kissing all the boys in town.”
I have had lots of conversations with lots of people in lots of churches, but that was my favorite. Interestingly, it was about planned giving.
In the meeting I had made the point that many churches are uncomfortable talking to their members about making planned gifts, such as leaving the church in their wills or establishing charitable gift annuities. I reminded the group that other organizations, such as a member’s alma mater, museums, children’s organizations and performing groups are all talking about these gifts and the church should as well.
But it was that older gentleman who really put it in perspective for me after the meeting. We’re too shy to ask our members for these gifts, but everyone else in town is doing so.
When people are alive, one dollar in three that they give to charity goes to a religious organization, a church, a mosque or synagogue. But when you look at planned gifts, the number is closer to one in 20.
Why the disonnect? Because we’re shy about kissing.
Think about the cycle of your relationship with your alma mater. You graduated at age 22 (OK, age 25 if you’re part of the younger generation) and your relationship tapers from there. You go back every so many years for a reunion or attend an event. But when you go back you recognize fewer buildings and certainly fewer people.
But how about church? Not ony does the church maintain an important part of your life up to the end, with a funeral it actually extends beyond your life. Research has shown that as retired folks continue to age the church they attend actually grows in significance.
So why do colleges and universities receive more planned gifts than churches? Because they ask for them.
For the record, I have absolutely no problem in our members supporting whatever organization they want to with their estate planning. But shouldn’t we at least send the message that the church is interested in talking about these kinds of gifts?
At your next Stewardship or Endowment Committee meeting establish a plan to make planned giving part of your conversation with your members in the coming year. If you’re not sure how to do that, give me a call. To find contact information click on the Foundation website link to the right.