Taking care of the donor, and the gift

August 23, 2021 by Stephen Keizer

Care above all else.

As a current member of the sandwich generation, I find myself in the middle of taking care of aging parents while still being responsible for my almost grown children. Bouncing between the generations has proven to be an interesting challenge that I knew was coming but am in no way fully prepared to tackle.

On top of that, the lingering pandemic has added its special circumstances to an already tenuous situation facing people living in retirement facilities. While forcing us to adjust the way that we go about our normal day-to-day lives, the pandemic has also made us adjust the way that we interact socially. Activities like eating out, going to movies, and most relevantly, attending church have changed dramatically in the past 18 months. Ministering and connecting to individuals looks totally different than it did in 2019 in most places.

In the recent book Crisis and Care: Meditations on Faith and Philanthropy, Aimée Laramore states that the pandemic has shaped new opportunities to build and cultivate donor relationships, engaging individuals to see beyond their personal circumstances and bringing new light to alternative experiences and personal narrative. In the midst of unanticipated change and transition, efforts to educate, inform and update donors have been at a significantly high level. Laramore is the Philanthropic Strategist for the first PhD in African-American Preaching and Sacred Rhetoric in the nation at Christian Theological Seminary and also served as Associate Director of the Lake Institute on Faith and Giving at Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. She is also speaking at Stewardship Kaleidoscope this month.

Stewardship season is approaching. Laramore’s words become extremely important as we begin to figure out a way to stay connected to our donors. Stewardship is an ethic that embodies the responsible planning and management of resources. It is the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care. Taking care of the gifts bestowed upon us during this time becomes the cornerstone of an effective stewardship program. Along with that is taking care of the individuals who made those gifts. As we continue to figure out what church is, we must remember who church is.

The fundraising cycle consists of identification, cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship. In a normal year, we spend lots of time on the solicitation piece. We come up with themes, letters, events, all designed to encourage folks to give.

In challenging times, I think it is important to focus more time on the stewardship piece. Taking care of the donor becomes even more critical. Here are two verses that I think point to that responsibility that’s more crucial now than ever.

“Those who are gracious to the poor lend to the Lord and the Lord will repay them fully,” – Proverbs 19:17.

“Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those with skin disease, and throw out demons. You received without having to pay. Therefore, give without demanding payment.” – Matthew 10:8.

Stephen Keizer is Vice President of Ministry Relations for the Presbyterian Foundation. His territory includes Ohio and Michigan. You can reach Stephen at steve.keizer@presbyterianfoundation.org.