Quick show of hands: How many of you know that our church has a Permanent Endowment Fund? Not nearly enough hands went up. Your Endowment Committee is working on a strategy to educate our congregation as to the vital importance of growing our Endowment Fund.
Our fund currently has a little over $530,000. This fund has been at work for many years. Members and Friends of Belle Meade UMC have left bequests that have been invested through our Tennessee Conference Foundation. Only the proceeds of these monies are available to be spent by the church. Would it surprise you to learn that over the last ten years, alone, over $130,000 has been utilized by groups within the church like the Trustees, the youth group, the music ministry and others?
It is becoming more and more clear as the years roll on that any large institution (college, church, non-profit agencies) will not be able to live “hand to mouth”--relying only on the week to week gifts of its membership. This will also become true for Belle Meade UMC. We need to build our Endowment to ensure our financial future.
How do we intend to do this? We begin by doing what one fundraising consultant told a group of clergy recently--we need to get in line. What he meant by that is if you went to college, chances are that you receive multiple mailings and phone calls asking for you to give as an alumnus. The church--all churches--have been notoriously slow to do this. And so our first move will simply be to get in line--to give you as dedicated and faithful members of our church the opportunity to help grow our Endowment.
We also need to dispel a myth and that is many people tend to believe legacy giving is reserved for the rich. That isn’t true. In order for us to grow our Endowment, we will need the participation of everyone. Of course, people who have been blessed with wealth are in a good position to make this kind of gift, but what is really needed is the desire to give. Here is an example of one way to consider a legacy gift. I know of a couple in another church who gave $5000 a year to the operating budget. This amount represents 5% of their yearly income. In their will, they have designated that church to receive 5% of their estate. In that way what they are accomplishing is giving beyond their own lifetime and giving exactly what they have already been giving.
For some others, it may involve giving a gift of stock that has matured or even a piece of real estate that the church could sell and benefit from the sale. There are a number of ways to help grow the Endowment and your committee will be helping the church to understand those ways and providing opportunity. There will be no pressure with this education campaign. No one is going to try and “guilt” you into doing something. Our intent is simply to make you aware and give you the opportunity.
OK, another show of hands. How many of you would be willing to come to a meeting to help us think clearly how best to accomplish our goals? Please contact me if you are.
Thank you for your strong support and love for our church.