What is a Gift Day?
A Gift Day provides a one-off opportunity for people to give a gift to the church in addition to their normal planned giving. If it is successful your Gift Day can raise substantial amounts of money – much more than an ordinary charity collection.
Gift Days can raise funds for a variety of causes:
- You may have been fundraising for a big capital project and want a final push to reach your target
- You may have an exciting mission project which needs extra money to get it off the ground
- You may have a crisis in your church housekeeping budget and need some extra funds to balance the books
The amount you can expect to raise will vary widely depending on what you need the money for. Raising funds to install a toilet, for example may be more motivating for givers than an appeal to boost depleted general funds.
Gift Days can be an extremely effective way of producing funds for the church but they should not be relied upon as a way for church family members to avoid reviewing their own personal, regular giving to the church. As Christians we recognise that everything we have comes from God – we are just stewards of these gifts and so we each have a responsibility to support our church through our regular giving.
On a Gift Day people are invited to come to church to offer their donation. This can be during a special service, or perhaps during a church open day. People invited to the Gift Day may include:
- Those on the Electoral Roll
- People who attend the church
- Members of the church fringe
- The Friends of the Church
- People living in the parish or village
- Posters advertising the event – put these up on church noticeboards and take them round to any shops of businesses in your locality which might display them. Members of the congregation might also be willing to put them up in their windows or cars.
- Advertisements in service sheets, parish magazine or parish notices before the day.
- Information prominently displayed on your website.
- A large banner or billboard outside the church just before and on the day
- Envelopes for gifts in pews prior to the day.
- Envelopes with a covering letter.
If you live in a rural area large signs can be displayed on the side of roads around the village.
Local press – send a press release to your local paper and any other media, ideally addressed to a named person, rather than ‘The Editor’. The press release should be short – no more than one double spaced side of A4. It should answer the following questions: Who? What? When? Where? Why? Be sure to include a contact name and phone number. If you can, include a good quality photograph. Follow up the press release with a phone call a few days later.
Listings – local papers often include a ‘listings’ section, which includes all sorts of local events and are generally free.
The Gift Day
If the church family is the target for your day, and you have chosen a Sunday, think about:
- A special service.
- A prayer vigil throughout the day. If you do this make sure there is a rota of people to pray in twenty minute or half hour slots, so that the prayer is continuous.
- An outside preacher.
- Special prayers.
- Drama produced by the children.
- A presentation during or after the service about the project you are raising money for.
Something a bit more elaborate than the usual after-service coffee. You could lay on some cake, or cheese and biscuits or wine, for example, or a parish lunch.
If you are casting your net wider than the church family you will need to provide something to interest people and encourage them into the church. Some examples might include:
- Music – an organ recital, or singing group or chamber music.
- A choir practice, which anyone can join in.
- Guided tours of the church.
- Brass rubbing.
- Flower festival.
- Exhibition showing your project plans.
- Refreshments – if you can provide home made cakes, so much the better.
- A board or box with pen and paper for people to leave requests for intercessory prayers.
- A quiet place for prayer.
Make sure you have plenty of friendly people around, who know their church and are willing to help.
Receiving the gifts
Decide on the most appropriate method for your parish. You will probably collect the gifts by more than one method, but they may include:
The person who has made an individual request for a particular gift should receive that gift.
Someone, possibly the vicar, will be there to receive gifts in the church on the day at set times, 10.00am – 12.00pm or 2.00pm – 4.00pm, for example. The times will have been advertised in advance.
Gifts can be received at all the Sunday services, and laid on the altar.
They can be returned over a period of time to the church, clergy, treasurer, churchwarden, or other parish officer.
A small team of people can visit people after the day in their homes.
Provide plenty of envelopes so people can give discreetly. A gift aid declaration either printed on the envelope, or provided as a separate form will help increase the take up of gift aid.
Tell people how well you did. You can make an announcement during a service, or publish the results in the parish magazine, notices or on the church notice board. If you have a website put your results where people will easily see them.
Bring the gifts to the altar during a service and offer them to God in thanksgiving.
And don’t forget to say….
Remember to thank everyone involved. Anyone who has given a large gift as a result of a direct approach should receive an individual letter to say thanks, signed by the incumbent.
It goes without saying that we should express our gratitude to those who have given money, but it’s easy to forget people who have spent time and worked hard to organise the day and make it a success. Don’t forget them. You’ll need them for your next Gift Day!