Communication Case Study: The Anatomy of a Successful Stewardship Campaign
Engagement is most often thought of in the marital sense, however it is of central importance in terms of a congregation as well. Engagement, in both contexts, implies emotional involvement and commitment –- as in, personal participation. What better way to see engagement in action than a stewardship campaign? This “back story” will demonstrate how one church made it to the Winner Circle in the 2015 TAC Communications Best Idea Contest – and equip other congregations with ideas on improving stewardship campaigns in their own unique environments.
According to Communication Director Rebecca Llenos, the main goal of the First UMC Pearland 2015 Stewardship campaign was to increase participation from the congregation. “It was not so much about pushing the amount of giving -- though that is always important – but, rather, creating a culture of giving our prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness,” she explains. “Through a strong Sunday morning message, a well-communicated plan and tangible take-aways and opportunities, we received an increase of 33% more pledge cards compared to the previous campaign.”
Step 2: The team created a week-by-week communication plan to help leadership and staff stay on task and communicate the points of the campaign through many different media.
Step 4: Takeaways were used on four of the five Sundays to re-iterate the teachings of the Sunday topic. Notes Rebecca, “We used bookmarks, generosity jars, spoons/ladles and seed packets to demonstrate the points of the videos. The bookmarks used the sheep graphic from Living Generously. The generosity jars encouraged people to fill their jars of slips of paper with ways they lived generously. The spoons and ladles represented us serving ourselves and then serving other. The final week seed packets were given out to all. All packets included Texas wildflower seeds except for a few that had cash inside. Those who had cash in their seed packets were encouraged to share how they helped others with the money they received.” Two members of one family shared their story in this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=abi3HaQjsnY. She adds, “We also had a service opportunity at the City of Pearland’s Trick or Treat Trail so we could volunteer as a team and share the Living Generously theme in our community.”
According to Rebecca, the successful result of this campaign was two-fold: 1) the team effort of the clergy, staff and lay leadership increased the knowledge and built excitement around the campaign and 2) the constant execution of the communication plan and media kept the congregation engaged and intrigued. “It is always important to keep your audience engaged if you want people to ‘get it’,” she adds. “Our members are constantly receiving messages of what to do and where to go and why to do it. As a church, keeping what we teach on Sunday relevant and life-applicable (i.e. stewardship in its many forms) will certainly result in a culture change because it becomes part of what we do.”
Shares Rebecca, “The result of a 33% increase in participation made our goal a reality and we are continuing to cultivate the culture of giving to God and our church in all areas with great strides and excitement.”
Did You Know? Many Resources Are Available Through UM Communication
As the Nashville-based United Methodist Communications agency approaches its 75th anniversary, it is revisiting the milestones that have helped create a robust resource center for the denomination. Today, UM Com is responsible for designing and providing communication skills training, equipping local churches for communications ministry, public and media relations. Web and social media, newsgathering, marketing, advertising, and strategic messaging resources are available 24/7 online at http://www.umcom.org.