Give from loyalty? Or for transformation?

Give from loyalty? Or for transformation?



I recently received a thank-you letter from a college. My husband and I regularly give this college one of our most significant gifts. But no one in our family went there. We don't give out of loyalty. Instead, we support a specific college program that engages student creativity to help solve challenges faced by people in a rural part of Guatemala. Transformation motivates our giving. 

One year, students learned that cardamon farmers needed to find a way to dry the pods more efficiently. Experiments among the engineers led to the design of a $2 baffle that increased the air turbulence of the cardamon pod dryers, reducing fuel consumption by 25% and increasing the farmers' earnings. Projects like these captured our imagination. 

When we ask for support for our congregations, do we emphasize loyalty or transformation? 

Loyalty long worked to motivate giving. You might hear it in conversations about "paying our fair share" or "paying the light bills." Loyalty giving can be powerful. It certainly built many of our institutions. But – and this is the downside – loyalty treats the institution as the ultimate center of our hearts. 

Transformational giving sees an institution as a tool for achieving impact in the world. You might hear this in the stewardship theme "Because of you, our church changes lives." The slogan names this charitable equation: The donor acts through the church for a desired impact. 

Moving from a message of loyalty to one of transformation expands our pool of donors. Appeals to loyalty is “members-only fundraising” -- it works only with people who identify as members. Speaking about transformation opens opportunities for people to share in your ministry, even if they don't identify as members. 

When I served as a local pastor, a neighbor of the congregation regularly gave gifts to support our initiatives. He didn't want to come to worship, but he appreciated our congregation's justice work and witness. We were his favorite church not to attend. But, because we offered him a way to make a difference in the wider community, he gave through us. 

Reflect on how you promote giving: Do you make an appeal to members only to support the institution? Or do you invite an open circle of people to make an impact through your church? 

Here’s a way to test your church’s message: Look at your website.  A picture of the building communicates a loyalty appeal. A picture of people engaging in ministry speaks to transformation. 

 Rev. Andrew Warner, CFRE
Generosity Outreach Officer
OPTIC – Office of Philanthropy, Technology, Identity, & Communication
United Church of Christ

1300 E. 9th St. Suite 1100
Cleveland, Ohio 44114 |


Generous Thoughts

Generous Thoughts is a collaborative effort of UCC stewardship, generosity, fundraising, and development professionals to provide our conferences and congregations with information to aid them in their fundraising efforts. The SNEUCC is represented ...

Subscribe to our emails
Massachusetts Office

1 Badger Road
Framingham, MA 01702

Connecticut Office

805 Old Main St.
Rocky Hill, CT 06067

Toll Free Phone: 866-367-2822
Fax: 866-367-0860
General Email: