September 26 will be my last day on the staff of Women of the ELCA. I am leaving to move to Los Angeles with my husband, Andy. It has been a privilege to serve this organization as director for stewardship and development for the past three years. I thought I would use this blog post to say thanks for some of the lessons I’ve learned from this community of women:
Thank you, Women of the ELCA, for teaching me that:
The best advocates for giving are women who give and speak from experience. It has been a privilege to hear your stories and to share them, in conversation, publications, presentations, and online).
The women in this community have tremendous unreached potential for financial giving to support ministry. I don’t mean that women are holding back and giving less than they should. Not at all! Generosity is abundant. I doubt I’ll ever work for another community that is so rooted in saying “yes” to financial giving. Rather, I mean that generous people are not always aware of how their resources can make a difference for the ministries of Women of the ELCA.
What financial support does Women of the ELCA need, now and in the longterm, to sustain and grow its mission and ministry? What financial assets (besides cash) can women use to make lasting gifts to ministry? What professional resources does the church provide to help women do gift planning? One of the great joys of my work has been helping donors to ask and answer these questions. In June, I co-led a workshop about planned giving at the South Dakota synodical convention. We asked participants why there are not more women including Women of the ELCA in their estate plans. The answer came quickly from a clergywoman in the group. “Because we don’t talk about it,” she said. As I leave the staff, I am encouraged by all the women who are finding ways to talk about it.
Personal invitations are vital to growth. In three years, I’ve had the chance to begin many conversations with, “Tell me how you got involved in Women of the ELCA.” Every single time, the answer involves receiving a personal invitation from another woman, whether it came through a phone call, a conversation in the pew or social media. Never have I heard a woman say, “I saw a flyer” or “I read about it in the bulletin and decided to attend.” Not once. Women of the ELCA has taught me that an invitation is not the same as an announcement.
These are just some of the lessons I’ll take with me as I move to Los Angeles. Thankfully, they weigh a lot less than the dishes and furniture. They’re also worth a lot more.
Emma Crossen currently serves as the director for stewardship and development.
Photo by Jason Toney. Used with permission.