“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” (Isaiah 12:22)
It is the progressive, dynamic and enlightened parish that incorporates some measure of personal conversation with others about giving. Sermons, mailings and announcements are fine but they are very limited in helping people to give more generously according to their true ability, as we are taught by the Lord. Remember, Jesus unflinchingly made the ultimate ask, “… go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” (Matthew 19:21) It has been noted that people do not necessarily change because they see the light; they change because they feel the heat! In all fundraising, however, let the warmth of the Holy Spirit and the light of Christ’s teaching lead the way.
1) Always first announce who is calling. This will help to alleviate any natural guardedness from those who answer a phone number they do not know. “This is (personal name) calling for (name of the church) regarding our stewardship program this year. Would it be appropriate to speak with you or should I speak with another person?
2) Be sensitive to gender issues e.g., if the wife answers, you probably should not ask for the husband. An exception might be if it is known that one of the spouses is not Orthodox and does not participate in church life.
3) Ascertain if they have received/read the letter. Have a copy handy to read to them if they say that they have not.
4) Say “I am serving as the chair of the stewardship committee (or on the stewardship committee). For the next few years, each year we are trying to meet personally with a number of families concerning the programs and ministries of the parish. I am calling to inquire if it would be convenient for us to stop by for a 20 minute visit to share with you our plan for the coming year and to speak with you about your participation.
5) Explore time possibilities with them: suggest specific evenings, Saturdays or Sundays. Take the time to get directions if you need them. Visiting in a person’s office is a great way to catch them. It’s generally not a good idea to meet for lunch or dinner. But if they insist on lunch or dinner then we accept. If they would prefer to speak about it right now on the phone, then accept. If they would rather not have a meeting and promise to send in their pledge card, then take a moment or two to explain the goal of the stewardship campaign this year and personally ask for their help.
6) Resist making the actual solicitation over the telephone. It will be far more effective in their home or office in a personal meeting. Though this may be the only opportunity.
7) It is acceptable to schedule a meeting following church but ask for 10-15 minutes in a classroom apart from the coffee hour.
8) If they give you their pledge over the phone, after thanking them, consider dropping them a personal note thanking them again. This ensures the fulfillment of the pledge and helps them to feel good about their choice to give and hopefully to increase their gift.
9) Be sure to complete the call or solicitation report and turn this is promptly to the stewardship chair or the financial secretary.