It shouldn’t surprise you to learn that the lowest birth rates in our country in the 20th Century happened in the 1930s, as a result of the Great Depression.
But why should you care?
Because the folks were born in those years are now in their 70s and 80s. These are the ages when we begin to benefit from bequests, or gifts left in the wills of our members.
There have been lots of stories about the onslaught of baby boomers and the impact they will have, but this tail end of the Silent Generation is worth our attention.
Many of our churches have become used to what are called “over the transom” bequests. These are gifts that walk in the door on their own, without anyone soliciting them. In the last decades, with the GI Generation and early Silent Generation still in our churches in large numbers, we could count on these gifts.
But as the number of our members in these key age groups declines, it only stands to reason that the number of these gifts will decline as well.
So what is a church to do?
I think we need to be more intentional about promoting these gifts:
- Lift up these gifts when they come in. Announcing in gratitude that when Mrs. Jones passed away, she left a generous gift in her will that will be placed in the general endowment fund, will encourage others to do the same.
- Have a planned giving educational event. The Foundation can provide these or perhaps a member of your congregation can do so. Make sure the emphasis is on education and not strong-arming potential gifts.
- Be sure you are ready to receive these gifts. How long ha it been since you have dusted off your endowment policies? Do you have a planned gifts acceptance policy that outlines what will happen if your church receives an undesignated bequest? These things can help give your members confidence that their gift will be handled properly and will help streamline the process once a gift is received.
Your East Ohio United Methodist Foundation is here to assist you with any and all of these issues.
Fewer bequests will happen by accident, we need to respectfully encourage our members to help secure the ongoing financial stability of our churches.