Lutheran Foundation Canada’s work benefits LCC congregations
ALBERTA and BRITISH COLUMBIA – In September 2016, Allen Schellenberg, as Lutheran Foundation Canada’s executive director, and the gift coordinator within the ABC District, attended the local meeting of pastors (a winkel) in the Vancouver and Fraser Valley Circuits with 14 congregations represented. His goal was to give them a short presentation on planned giving, as well as an overview of what was covered in the Foundation’s three-hour seminar on Christian estate planning.
After working eight years within the ABC District and presenting more than 100 seminars, Schellenberg found four congregations within these two circuits had yet to host a seminar, and six had hosted only one seminar, most with fewer than six people attending. Throughout the synod, the Foundation’s gift coordinators still struggle to find congregations willing to host a seminar, even though seminar evaluations have indicated great satisfaction with the content and presentation style. Allen was eager to improve the numbers within his own backyard.
To quantify the benefit of congregations hosting a seminar, Allen analyzed data covering the past eight years within these two circuits. For each congregation, he reviewed the number of seminars they hosted, the total number attending, and the total value of gifts designated to each. The data was then sorted based on the total number of seminar attendees. He found a direct correlation between the number of seminar attendees, the number of seminars, and most significantly, the value of gifts designated to that congregation. The three congregations with 30 or more attendees had considerably higher gift allocations then the others, with the top two having designated gifts of $300,000 or more, even though some people attended twice. Of course, congregations with no seminars had no gifts, and, except for one, those with one seminar had gifts of less than $22,000.
It was apparent that hosting seminars and encouraging attendance was beneficial to the congregation. After showing this analysis at the ABC District’s Church Workers Conference, Schellenberg had numerous invitations to present seminars. Although this was an insufficient sample to extrapolate these findings across the entire synod, one would anticipate similar results if a more extensive analysis were undertaken.
Just after the winkel presentation, Allen left on a road trip from Vancouver to Rimbey, Alberta, via Highway 1, and back along southern Highway 3, stopping at twelve Lutheran Church–Canada (LCC) congregations along the route. These were congregations he had yet to visit, so he scheduled short meetings with their leadership to confirm awareness of the Foundation and what it does. Ten of these meetings were with leaders who had no previous knowledge of the Foundation or its work. Most were surprised they had not heard of the Foundation, and that it actually works on their behalf, as LCC congregations are named the beneficiary of 33 percent of all planned gifts.
If your congregation has not yet hosted a seminar, or if you are uncertain about what Lutheran Foundation Canada can do to assist both individuals in their estate planning, and congregations in developing a Gift Acceptance and Use Policy, contact the gift coordinator in your district, and they will be pleased to answer your questions. Go to www.lutheranfoundation.ca to find out more, or to get contact information details.