You know the rest – you have to spend money to make money, or in this case, to raise money.
Occasionally a congregation will let us know that it has decided to engage a Stewardship for Us consultant but does not have the money in its current year budget. And of course, once the decision is made, there is a strong impetus to move forward as quickly as possible. No one wants to wait for the next budget cycle.
So what to do?
First, keep in mind that our initial consultation, our Next Steps Weekend (NSW) service, is offered at a discounted price that is quite low given the time that we invest and the benefits that you receive. We want as many congregations as possible to be able to benefit from our services, so we have structured this initial offering as a high value/low cost service.
Second, there is an option we have seen congregations use to get things going: ask a small number of dedicated leaders to donate the funds for the NSW. This has a positive impact in several ways. Most obvious, it enables the congregation to move forward. At least as important, it demonstrates that the congregation has in its midst dedicated and generous leaders who will step up when called upon, leaders who are willing to drive the process. This helps generate a can-do spirit of confidence and momentum which carries over to the pursuit of the stewardship goals.
Finally, it demonstrates the power of asking one another to do something. We UUs tend to be reluctant askers, and this is one challenge we face in stewardship. Much of our consulting work with congregations is helping people become more comfortable talking with one another about money, and training people to ask directly and effectively for financial commitments. So, once you have success asking a few people to contribute, you will have taken a key step toward a more vital and effective stewardship program. And beyond that, learning to ask is transformative for your congregation in so many ways.
And while the above discussion is about how to get started with a Next Steps Weekend, there are often other opportunities for similar up-front asks and investments. The early steps toward a building program and capital campaign require seed money to hire an architect and capital campaign consultant. You need this money before any capital is raised. Once again, you are often well-served by asking a few families to fund these initial steps.
So go forth, dream big, talk to one another, be bold and ask!