People Are Church's Strongest Asset Pt4

Article excerpt

Editor's note: This is the final story in a four-part series on the Nurturing Planned Giving Conference held in Toronto last fall.

"The church is essentially in the people business," says Rev. Jack Crouch, a retired priest who helped establish Camp Couchiching in the Diocese of Toronto 50 years ago. "We need to encourage places like this camp where young people can develop leadership skills and have fun at the same time."

It may seem unusual to think of a camp full of laughing children as a ministry, but Canon Crouch's comments reflect the heart of any of the church's work, the people who give and those who receive in all areas of ministry--parishes, dioceses, chaplaincies, overseas ministries, the arts and, yes, summer camps.

Ministries as diverse as Camp Couchiching, the Primate's World Relief and Development Fund and the Anglican Foundation keep in touch with donors through newsletters that inform people of how their donations are helping.

However, a concerted effort is being made to change and improve communications in all areas of the church's work with the help of such people as Gail Holland, co-ordinator for the national church's office of financial development. Ms. Holland is working with a team on the new planned giving initiative and they are looking at new ways to communicate with and connect people.

"We're developing a method of treating the dioceses and parishes like donors instead of taxpayers," Ms. Holland said. "Our Primate sent a letter to the dioceses last year thanking them for apportionments and assessments given to the national church and how it has helped. It seems obvious now but it had never been done before."

Ms. Holland is applying this experience to the planned giving initiative in a proposal she is assembling for a manual for dioceses that will include suggestions for donor recognition and an informative newsletter for volunteers.

As well, she is building a network with the aid of a database to connect volunteers who can learn from each others' experiences. The database will track volunteers and donors and connect people with others who have the skills and information they need.

Suzanne Lawson, executive director of program at the national office, feels that this is essential to any program or ministry of the church -- to have people helping each other.

"With a network set up, we can creatively develop ideas, improve them and offer each other mutual support in our efforts," said Ms. Lawson, the first Canadian to be certified with the International Association for Volunteer Administrators.

"Dioceses need to find people with specific skills for this ministry who can also envision the future of the church and have commitment and enthusiasm for our faith. We need good organizers who can follow through and make sure all the i's are dotted so that donors aren't left hanging. …