It was a joy to be on hand Thursday, May 24, 2018 at Paynesville Lutheran Church as Jim Schade (pictured) joined with Amy Bigot, our Synod’s Planned Giving coordinator and 15 other leaders to offer advice and tell stories on why and how to build an endowment ministry. “Why isn’t the Church in the middle of this?” Jim asked. What followed was a night filled with stories, reasons and methods to experience the joy of giving through endowments.
Jim Schade has a lot to draw upon. Formerly an IRS investigator Jim left that work after he discovered how ill equipped people were to pass estates on to their loved ones and gave tremendous amount to estate taxes. For many years Jim then served with South Dakota Planned Giving (SD Synod, ELCA) as a co-director. In semi-retirement he now spends time on his wine business, tending to grapes and as a part time consultant on planned giving with Gronlund, Sayther, Brunkow (GSB) offering a “subscription service” for endowment giving through GSB.
Jim’s engaging conversation began this way, “People who have a planned gift in place give two times as much annually to the same places they give to annually.” In other words, generosity begets generosity! So, as Jim would say, “Why isn’t the Church in the middle of this? Charities would die to have the attention we have from our members!”
Among the Top 5 things a congregation and its pastor can do to grow an endowment ministry are these: 1) Identification: Who are the potential donors? 2) Motivation: How does this gift make a difference? Tell the story of how gifts have impact; 3) Cultivation: Have temple talks, seminars and brochures inviting and celebrating what gifts have done and can do. 4) Solicitation: Ask! This is becoming a recognized part of a pastor’s ministry. It is a spiritual discipline to talk about money in a way that invites people to be generous so it brings joy to the giver and the receiver. 5) Gratification: Form ways of saying “thanks” including a “Legacy Program” and public recognition.
The Top 4 Reasons most Christians don’t plan a gift to the Church at their death: 1) They didn’t think about it; 2) Just didn’t get around to it; 3) Didn’t know how; 4) No one asked! This final one included a story heard too often these days, no one in the congregation “asked” and so a gift was given to other entities, to family, or it went to the government. As Jim said, and this was to the pastors as well as the lay leaders, “This is your job. Create a culture where everyone has an opportunity to make a gift.”
If you want to learn more about Legacy giving here are a couple of suggestions: 1) Be in contact with Amy Bigot (763-443-3750) to learn more about Legacy gifts and methods. 2) Contact me (Larry Strenge) 320-249-1135. We can talk about having ways to grow generosity in general and how to cultivate that culture of generosity in your setting.