In 2011, a new way of thinking about donor communication has taken place in the Church of the Brethren. Fundraising has taken on the flavor of a team effort, with staff from across many ministry areas starting to take responsibility for articulating the value of Church of the Brethren ministries–and their cost.
For example, letters that were sent to donors almost every month last year had lots of variety of color, photos, and voices, because they were written by different authors. Jonathan Shively’s letter about Congregational Life Ministries (which he serves as executive director) generated a great response, as did general secretary Stan Noffsinger’s mid-year letter about Haiti. These personal, specifically Brethren letters have proven successful, unique voices asking Brethren to support this church they love.
New in 2011, a quarterly newsletter called “Simply Put” took the place of the former “Another Way of Living” and many people have specifically subscribed to it. “Simply Put” now has its own mailing list.
“eBrethren,” an e-mail newsletter focused on stewardship, prompts appreciative e-mails from readers after nearly every issue. In 2011, various “eBrethren” pieces were featured in everything from district newsletters, to blogs, to Bible studies, and even sermons. It is encouraging that people seem to not only find it worth reading, but worth sharing.
One special story about “eBrethren” is that the last issue prepared in 2011 mentioned Nancy Miner, who works in the General Secretary’s Office, in connection with the nursing scholarship program. Her college roommate read the story and was inspired to e-mail the offices to reconnect with Nancy after several years! People-connecting is one of those things that happen frequently as we do the work of stewardship, and “eBrethren” helps to make the world seem a little smaller for many readers.
The bottom line for the denomination’s stewardship efforts in 2011 is that we saved more than $100,000 in printing and mailing costs by creating direct mail “in-house.” Over all, individuals donated $2,149,783. A large chunk of that giving came in the form of a very generous bequest to the Emergency Disaster Fund for the work of Brethren Disaster Ministries.
It seems that church members are starting to get more excited about supporting the church’s Core Ministries, and that they understand better what such ministries do–older adult and youth/young adult programing, international partnerships, Deacon Ministry, workcamps, communications, intercultural ministries, Brethren Volunteer Service, basic costs of the mission program, efforts to resource church planters, and so much more.
— Mandy Garcia is coordinator of Donor Invitation for the Church of the Brethren.