Tomorrow is #GivingTuesday, an initiative begun in 2012 to encourage giving to non-profits and agencies on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. You won’t see Women of the ELCA asking for support on GivingTuesday. It’s not that the organization doesn’t need your financial support. (Your financial support is essential!) It’s because the organization expects its participants to support the shared mission and ministry all year round.
So today’s blog is devoted to a particular kind of financial support: year-end giving in congregational units and synodical organizations.
Our churchwide executive board has a policy encouraging all synodical women’s organizations and congregational units to spend down their monetary reserves at the end of the year in a way that reflects the interdependent relationships between the congregational units, the synodical organizations, and the churchwide women’s organization.
Money goes to mission and ministry
When money is given to an expression of Women of the ELCA, whether through a bake sale or an offering, the giver expects those dollars to go toward mission and ministry. After all, that’s what Women of the ELCA is all about!
Sometimes, ministry requires that a small amount of savings be held from year to year. For instance, a group may need money to place a down payment on a retreat facility for the next year or to respond to emergency needs that arise early in the next fiscal year. But the rest of the money is meant to support mission and ministry now.
Support ministry now
It is up to each congregational unit and each synodical organization to annually decide how much to keep in reserves for the next year, while recognizing that every dollar saved is a dollar that does not support ministry today.
In most cases, reserves of $1,000 or less are sufficient. Women of the ELCA is organized so that the synodical organizations and units do not need to keep large reserves from year to year. Neither units nor synodical organizations maintain staff, property, or ongoing liabilities for which significant reserves are necessary.
Units are called to be communities of women that support each other and act to bring about healing and wholeness in the church, the society, and the world. The synodical organizations are to connect units in mission with the churchwide organization. These purposes are best lived out by putting dollars to ministry, not storing those dollars away in a bank account or some form of investment.
Support the churchwide organization
Of course, another question follows the decision to spend down reserves – What ministries should we support? The churchwide executive board recommends spending the dollars in a way that reflects the interdependence between congregational units, synodical organizations, and the churchwide women’s organization.
Interdependence is an important word for Women of the ELCA. Our founders used it many times in our constitution, especially regarding finances. Interdependence means that all expressions of Women of the ELCA (unit, synodical organization, and churchwide) should consider the needs of the others when making financial decisions.
Before the end of this fiscal year (January 31, 2022), spend down your reserves, making special gifts to the churchwide organization. This is especially critical in the continuing pandemic when giving through Regular Offerings and Thankofferings has been down.
By giving to the churchwide organization you are supporting advocacy, leadership development, Gather magazine, intergenerational programming, Café, discipleship retreats, program resources, the coordination of scholarships, racial justice education, and all we do interdependently as Women of the ELCA.
Here’s a list of some of the ways the churchwide women’s organization offered spiritual support during the pandemic. Your continued financial support makes these and so much more possible.
- Tuesday Prayers at Noon (launched March 2020) where women were asked to pray at noon in their time zone for those impacted by the pandemic
- Dear Friend in Christ letter writing project (launched April 2020) where we went retro and invited women to write a letter to a friend in Christ, hoping to sustain community in the fact of isolation
- Videos offered through Gather from Bible study authors (launched Summer 2020)
- Webinar “Racial solidarity in times of a pandemic” (June 2020) This was planned and then we had to quickly pivot when the murder of George Floyd happened days before the webinar
- New resource Giving Thanks to God—All Day, Every Day produced and published (August 2020), inviting women to the daily practice of gratitude that leads to Thankofferings
- “Just Love: A virtual preview” webinar planned and produced, attended by over 600 women (September 2020) while the triennial gathering was postponed, we were still able to explore and celebrate the Just Love theme
- Facebook Live conversations on race and relationships (September 2020)
- B.Y.O.D. events sponsored by Café (boldcafe.org) (launched October 2020 – the next one is December 2)
- Called to be political resource updated and revised, published prior to the presidential election (October 2020)
- Voting rights webinar co-sponsored with ELCA Votes (October 2020)
- Hispanic Heritage Month video produced and aired (September-October 2020)
- Zoom meetings with synodical presidents by regions (Fall 2020 and we’ll be doing those again, beginning tomorrow)
- Facebook Live conversations during Native American Heritage Month (November 2020) and Black History Month (February 2021)
- Blue Christmas worship service, with over 200 attendees (last year and again this year, on December 21st, via Zoom)
- Pivot, Don’t Panic! leadership event, with over 200 attendees (February 2021 – we’ll be doing another leadership event this coming February via Zoom)