People benefit from and respond to instruments of accountability and want to know that their gifts make a difference.
Time and Talent Coordination - The Volunteer Coordinator
There is nothing more harmful to the process of increasing participation in your parish ministries than asking for time and talent and then not following up with the parishioners who came forward. You can be sure they will not do so readily again, for the unspoken message is "we don't want/need you." In actuality, it may be that "we're disorganized" or "we don't know what you could do" or "we're too busy to make another phone call."
To avoid this pitfall, we recommend appointing someone on the Parish Stewardship Committee to serve as the Volunteer Coordinator who makes sure parishioners are matched with an appropriate ministry and are put in contact with the person who heads that particular ministry. The Volunteer Coordinator may also arrange orientation and training, coordinate the commissioning of new volunteers and be responsible for keeping the parish ministries catalog current. The Volunteer Coordinator should be a both detail orientated and a "people person." The person should be able to get parishioners involved in the parish in ways that are satisfying and rewarding for the individual and which give the parish the benefit of the person's gifts.
Volunteer Orientation and Training
In order to be successful, every new volunteer taking on a new role needs some instruction and guidance. They need to know exactly what is expected of them, they need to know who to go to for help, and they need feedback to know how they are doing and how they can improve. Learning the ropes for child care during Mass may take five minutes for a mom, or learning the routine for providing coffee and donuts after Mass may take working side-byside one Sunday; but teaching a Religious Education class will require Catechist Certification classes. The person in charge of each parish ministry and the Volunteer Coordinator are responsible for the eventual formation of each new volunteer.
Parish Stewardship Accountability Report
The purpose of the Parish Stewardship Accountability Report is to help parishioners understand the priorities, goals and accomplishments of their parish. Individuals are called to be responsible stewards of the gifts entrusted to them by a good and gracious God, and so are our parishes. The parish has the responsibility to be accountable to its parishioners who have entrusted their gifts from God to their parish. In addition, people benefit from and respond to instruments of accountability and want to know that their gifts make a difference. Key themes to remember are that the Parish Stewardship Accountability Report should:
- Invite continued giving and participation in the parish
View a sample Parish Stewardship Accountability Report.
Benefits of a Parish Stewardship Accountability Report
Many successful stewardship parishes provide their parishioners with personalized stewardship reports. These reports are beneficial in a number of ways because they:
It has been proven in thousands of parishes throughout the country that parishes who provide regular (quarterly) stewardship reports experience an increase in their offering.
People want to fulfill their stewardship commitment (regardless of whether they put it in writing), but tend to quickly lose track of their progress. Although very few people will ever initiate the question of their pledge fulfillment, parishioners will generally "get back on track" if a parish initiates the conversation. Many think no one has noticed or cares that they have fallen behind and might conclude, "It doesn't make a difference." Most of the "falling behind" has nothing to do with personal financial difficulty; rather, the trouble is with missing Mass and/or forgetting to write a check prior to the collection. People want to get credit for their gifts for tax purposes, for their pledge fulfillment, and/or for other human reasons. Thus, they are hesitant to drop significant, anonymous cash gifts in the collection basket when they have forgotten their check or envelope. The quarterly report reminds them of those Sundays and offers them a chance to "catch up."
Research has shown that as many as one-half of registered parishioners are absent from Sunday Mass on a typical weekend. This means that a parish that only provides a system of receiving gifts from the people who are in attendance at Mass is under-utilizing its potential resources. When people say they will give $20 per week, they usually mean $20 per week when they are at Mass and remember their check and envelope. The quarterly report tends to gradually bring these parishioners to the practice of giving $20 every week, whether they are on vacation, a business trip, or forgot their check or envelope.
The quarterly report offers the parish a chance to affirm and show appreciation for their parishioners' generosity.
Parishioners usually are not aware of the general status of parish finances. When appropriate, report the status in the quarterly report.
Inform parishioners about a "good news" story describing a specific ministry impacted (in human terms) as a result of the generosity of others' stewardship efforts.
People benefit and respond to instruments of accountability. This quarterly report is a tool that helps parishioners respond to the stewardship message of using their gifts in an accountable way.
Who Receives This Report?
All parishioners should receive this report. But we recommend that you NOT send it to newly registered people, families temporarily away, and those who asked not to receive the report.
The easier you make it for people to give, the greater the chance they will give. You could include a postage-paid business reply envelope with your report - which would require a permit from the post office. This usually makes it easier for parishioners to mail in "make-up" payments. You pay the postage only when it is actually mailed, not when it is placed in the collection basket. The cost of providing postage will be offset many times over by increased response. You could also use a plain reply envelope with the parish address on it.
Developing the Report
A member of the Parish Stewardship Committee should be asked to develop this resource. Below are the steps necessary to develop an accountability report, click here for a sample Parish Stewardship Accountability Report:
- Meet with the Pastor and the Parish Stewardship Committee to determine what will be contained in the Parish Stewardship Accountability Report. Develop the outline for the accountability.
- Meet with the parish ministry chairs and explain the plan for the accountability report and ask them to develop an inventory of the ministries made possible through their committee's work during the past year. Share with them the sample accountability outline and ask for their accountability report within 30 days.
- Collect the accountability reports from the parish committee chairs and prepare a draft Parish Stewardship Accountability Report.
- Present the draft of the accountability report to the Parish Stewardship Committee and Pastor for their review and approval.
Completing the Report
- Prepare the final copy of the accountability report for insert in the bulletin and for a report to the entire parish during one of the stewardship weekends in November.
Presenting the Report
Recruit a parish committee chair, or other parish leader, to give a brief overview of the accountability report during Mass on one of the awareness weekends in November. (Note: Be familiar with the readings and the Gospel for the weekend the report is being presented to the parish.) Remember, the stewardship accountability report can be shared with the parish on any of the stewardship weekends.
- Explain that through the support of the many parish leaders and committee chairs, a Parish Stewardship Accountability Report has been developed that lists the results of ministries that are provided through your parish.
- Explain that the purpose of the Parish Stewardship Accountability Report is to help parishioners understand the priorities, goals and accomplishments of your parish.
- Give a summary of the Parish Stewardship Accountability Report by providing a summary of the number of parishioners who participate in the ministries, e.g.:
- Parish Population
- Sacramental Preparation Program
- Sacraments Celebrated
- Education and Faith Formation Programs
- Parish Outreach Programs
- Lay Liturgical Ministries
- Community of Faith Programs
- Administrative Programs
- Mention that a copy of the Parish Stewardship Accountability Report is in the bulletin that Sunday. Ask them to take a few minutes to read it and to see what is being accomplished through time, talent and treasure.
- Tell the story of one particular volunteer and the impact their ministry had on the life of a recipient and how the time and talent of that volunteer and the support of the parishioners made this possible.
- Thank those who share their time and talent as volunteers/ministers who make all of this possible. Invite those not currently involved to consider doing so.