Monday, September 15, 2014
It’s Ingathering Time! Thinking About Spring Yet?
Bill Clontz, UUA Stewardship Consultant
It’s that time of year. UUs all over the country are “coming home,” catching up with each other from Summer adventures, and starting to think about the coming holiday season. If you are part of your congregation’s stewardship team, now is the time you should be thinking still further ahead.
If your primary budget drive or similar activity takes place soon after the first of the calendar year, you should already be well into your planning cycle. If your campaign begins in the Spring, now is the time to start laying the ground work. Why plan so far ahead? Let’s take a look.
Some congregations go into their campaign with two handicaps that need not exist. Don’t let yours be one of them.
First, they start too late in their planning cycle, resulting in a rushed program that is exhausting for the stewardship team, amateurish in the eyes of the congregation, and unsatisfactory in results. Do the math when looking at the calendar; it may appear that there are weeks and weeks ahead of you. But subtract holidays, other church activities that make demands on volunteer and leader time, personal and working obligations of key people – before you know it, there is little or no time available to carry out a good campaign. A good rule of thumb is to start planning 6-9 months out before your campaign begins. Allowing enough time changes everything – better results, better energy, better everything.
Second, some congregations suffer from what I call the “One Year Syndrome.” They don’t have 10 or 20 years of experience (or however long the congregation has existed). They have 1 year of experience 10 or 20 times. Every year seems to carry some surprise in what a good campaign requires. This is not unusual in volunteer based organizations, but it’s not all that difficult to ameliorate.
Start a good information capture process by ending every campaign with a team session (including at least some of your visiting stewards if that was, as I hope it was, a part of your campaign) dedicated to a lessons learned review. It need not be a long and complex review. Just review the components of the campaign, what went well or less than well, what needs to be preserved or changed, and who will own the process of ensuring its right next year. When the planning for the next campaign starts, begin with reviewing these notes.
Now, institutionalize those lessons learned by building a reference book over the years. Review the set every few years to isolate trends, both good and bad. This provides institutional memory and builds on success.
Follow these guidelines and you can expect to have a better campaign, have more fun doing it, and help institutionalize excellence in your congregation. Enjoy!
Bill Clontz is the Southern Region’s UUA Stewardship Consultant and a member of the Congregational Stewardship Network. You can reach Bill through the CSN, through the Southern Region staff, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more about the CSN at http://www.uua.org/finance/fundraising/index.shtml.
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