“I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.” (Ephesians 1:16)
What better exercise for the priest, parish council and/or the stewardship committee than a mid year call-every-giving-household-in-the-parish and thank them for their support? What immediate blessings can we identify from such an exercise?
- Those who make the calls model the eucharistic life of thanksgiving.
- Those who make the calls are accorded the opportunity for direct contact with fellow parishioners on a joyful subject.
- Those who make the calls fulfill an aspect of their commitment to service leadership either as a member of the parish council or as a member of the stewardship committee.
- Those who receive the calls have an opportunity to be delightfully surprised that the parish is not calling to ask for financial support!
- Those who receive the calls may learn of how their giving is helping the parish to fulfill its mission of worship and service.
- Those who receive the calls may be inspired to increase their support and so deepen their commitment to the mission of the parish.
There is also an ancillary or secondary benefit, though it really should not be the primary purpose of calling to thank parishioners for their giving. In a test, reported in the The NonProfitTimes, a thank you phone call increased later giving by 47 percent. Calling even when a thank you letter had been sent improved subsequent giving by 22 percent.
Here are just a few things to keep in mind when an organized effort is made to personally call every household to say “thank you.”
- Identify who is calling and the purpose of the call. If possible, ask if any other adults are available to come to the phone so that we may have the privilege of thanking the household.
- If appropriate, use the name of the person called or use formal “Mr.”, “Mrs”, “Ms”. It seems obvious, but sometimes callers forget and just launch into their spiel.
- Also, ask if this is a convenient time for a five-minute call. Avoid launching into the script without first checking to see if the person picking up the phone can speak for a few minutes.
- In the course of the call describe three specific ways that giving to the parish is helping to change lives and to save lives. Consider saying, “May I mention just three ways of the countless ways that your giving is serving the parish membership and the greater community of (name the town or city).” Describe the ways. (priest’s ministry of visitations, youth ministry, new members, baptisms, weddings, people fed, etc.)
- Consider asking a couple of questions. “Would you share with me how it is that you learned to give? Did you have a good example to follow? A special cause for gratitude? Was it a family practice or tradition to give? Do you have any suggestions for us concerning the work of the parish council or the stewardship committee. We’re open to new ideas.
- Leave a warm voice mail, if no one picks up. Getting a voice mail is almost as good as the real thing. These days, it’s more likely to have to leave a message anyway. People screen their calls, or they’re out and about. If you can leave a sweet message, consider it mission accomplished.
- Consider organizing the “thank-a-thon” as a celebratory event for a Saturday or a weekday evening when the calling team gathers at the church for pizza, salad and soda.
- Prior to the effort consider an effort to update the contact information for the parish roster– emails for the newsletter and phone number for emergencies. Pass out simple forms at the end of the Liturgy and ask people to give them to the ushers as they leave.
- Provide some basic training and then set the phoners free. If you ask people to make those calls from home, do give them a script or list of tips.
- Take stock of the results by inviting the callers to share their experiences (without mentioning specific names!) And perhaps also discuss how the exercise could be improved upon for application at some future date.) It’s probably not necessary to do this every year.