By Antoine TurnerContributing Sentinel Writer
The foundation of the Black community has always been the Black Church, the ‘sanctuary,' the place where people go to fellowship, find emotional, social, spiritual support, and worship. Over the years, the Black Church has thrived on the weekly financial offerings and tithes of its members. The black churches' aging population has dwindled, the recession hit our community hard and incomes have dropped by a third. However, it's the absence of a sustainable planned giving or endowment program that represents the missed opportunity and biggest concern. Churches that make planned giving and endowment building a goal can be strengthened in their decisions. Data shows that congregations make major planned gifts when the pastor encourages them. Churches that observe the benefits that promoting planned gifts has brought to the arts and social welfare organizations see that these are non-traditional fundraisers with whom churches may identify themselves.
When the Black Church starts an endowment giving program, hidden donors and expectancies come to light, gift discussions begin, immediate support increases and a consensus forms that the church must continue to make a difference in the future and that it needs long-term financial strength to do that.
Churches need not abandon their commitment to meet human needs today if they also plan for their financial future. If told, their congregations will understand that attending to the poor, attracting talented preachers, providing social outreach, and maintaining the roof and updating the office computers will take even more money tomorrow than it does today.
They will understand that a planned gift or endowment will help relieve future congregations from the dilemma of having to choose one financial priority among many because of a lack of revenue. They will also agree that planned gifts make endowment-building commitments easier. If we are as Christian a community as we say we are, then planned giving donors are sitting in churches today. They just need to be shown the light.
Antione Turner is president/CEO of Wealth Concepts based in El Segundo. He is an author and presents seminars on marketing planned gifts and values-based gift planning. Contact him at 310-871-9678 or