Lucky for the rain

We’ve had a soggy spring.  My daughter pointed out that the grass is good and green.  She credits it all to the rain.

She’s partly right.  Without enough rain the grass wouldn’t be nearly as green.

But it’s also true that I have spent my weekends maximizing how healthy my well-watered grass is.  I use both chemical and organic fertilizer.  I aerate the soil, keep the ph balance where it needs to be and I keep the lawn cut to the right height.  Edging and trimming help as well.

I feel the same way about a planned giving program.

Anyone with integrity who does this work will tell you that most planned gifts come unexpectedly, and more often because of the desire of the donor than the efforts of the staff.  Nearly any high-visibility nonprofit has received significant, even game-changing  bequests from people it had never heard of before.

They did as much to receive these gifts as I do to receive the rain.

But this doesn’t mean we should just hope for rain.   There are several things that your church should be doing to increase the chances of benefiting from these gifts:

When you do receive such a gift, make it well-known.  Announce the gift when it is made but more importantly as that gift starts to have a positive impact on the ministry of the church. 

Establish policies for receiving these gifts and for the management of your endowment.  This will send the message that you are prepared to be good stewards of these gifts.

Hold a planned giving seminar or other educational opportunity for your members at least once a year.

And as anyone who has ever heard me speak about communicating about planned gifts, the most important piece is to connect money given years ago to the impact it has today.  Make sure they know, for instance, that the parking lot paving is the result of a strong endowment.

There is an African proverb that says “move your feet while you pray.”  Go ahead and hope and pray for “lucky” planned gifts.  But move your feet along the way and watch your luck increase.

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