Build up the body of Christ. Support the Pentecost Offering.

Stewardship Kaleidoscope workshop identifies five ways PC(USA) leaders can minister to church donors

Fundraising is a ministry of intentionality and relationships

by Sissy Clayton Perryman for the Presbyterian Foundation | Special to Presbyterian News Service

Chris Winkler (Photo by Gregg Brekke)

What feelings do you get when you think about fundraising?

Does raising funds feel like a “necessary evil?”

Do you grudgingly invite financial participation and maybe only when the budget is low?

Chris Winkler, Vice President and Chief Advancement Officer of Wycliffe Bible Translators USA, raised these and many other questions during a workshop at Stewardship Kaleidoscope, an annual conference focused on stewardship, generosity and finances for churches. It was held both virtually and in person in Savannah, Georgia, Sept. 26-28.

Early on in the workshop, Winkler lifted up Henri Nouwen’s book “A Spirituality of Fundraising” as a great resource to re-understand congregational stewardship as an essential ministry within churches. Nouwen says, “Asking people for money is giving them the opportunity to put their resources at the disposal of the Kingdom. To raise funds is to offer people the chance to invest what they have in the work of God. As a form of ministry, fundraising is as spiritual as giving a sermon, entering a time of prayer, visiting the sick or feeding the hungry.”

Winkler had workshop participants explore and share their own beliefs about fundraising and then he inspired the group of church pastors and leaders to consider how approaching fundraising as a ministry can be transformative.

Winkler shared five key ways to minister to your congregation’s donors.


Donors sometimes need to talk to us. It is an opportunity for pastoral care and hearing about a donor’s passions. This is a real opportunity to listen and that practice builds relationships, Winkler said.


Praying with your donors is powerful. Praying together for your church and congregation; praying with them about their personal journey or struggles; or sometimes even praying for healing if there is division in a church, Winkler says.


When we ask for money we are encouraging people to invest in an opportunity. What makes a difference is how we ask, Winkler said.

Ask without apologies, avoiding common phrases such as, “Don’t feel like you have to give.” Remember that you are offering them an opportunity.

Be professional in your ask. Consider where you make the ask, such as at church, at coffee or in their home or office. Make sure printed pieces are on nice paper, the content is easy to understand and it has been proofread. Make things easy for the donor to learn more. For example, make your website easy to navigate with only a few clicks and make the donor’s response process simple.


Some research suggests that we should thank people seven times. This can include phone calls, handwritten notes and in-person coffee. Even a quick text can be nice.

Make the “thank you” personal; the receipt you send for a gift is not a personal thank you. Pull in others to make thank you calls, Winkler said.

You can capitalize on the joy of giving when you respond immediately with a thank you, and he cautioned that a thank you note that goes out too late makes your church or ministry seem inattentive and disorganized and doesn’t minister as much to the donor. This is a systematic issue to consider.


Find ways to share the impact of a donor’s gift. For example, report back to a donor if the youth go on a mission trip. Invite them to a youth dinner or find a personal way to tell the donor about that trip.

Winkler encouraged participants to shift the culture of your church to help everyone be a part of the stewardship team. Money is a touchy subject, but it should be viewed as one indicator of your congregational health. If someone isn’t giving, there could be a gap in leadership that could be addressed.

Stewardship is a ministry that takes intentionality, leadership and relationships. When implemented it is powerful and can lead to greater giving in your congregation, Winkler said. It is not just the role of the pastor or a committee but should engage the whole congregation.

Sissy Perryman has more than 25 years of public relations, grant writing and fundraising experience in corporate and nonprofit settings. She is a member of First Presbyterian Church of Beaufort, South Carolina. Send comments on this article to

Creative_Commons-BYNCNDYou may freely reuse and distribute this article in its entirety for non-commercial purposes in any medium. Please include author attribution, photography credits, and a link to the original article. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDeratives 4.0 International License.

  • Subscribe to the PC(USA) News

  • Interested in receiving either of the PC(USA) newsletters in your inbox?

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.