The best answer is no, if you are planning a fall appeal, now is the time to begin. You want to get started on the framework, setting the dates, enlisting your volunteers, picking a theme, and sharing your plan with your congregation’s or organization’s leadership this spring. (September is too late to start and do this well.)
As you think about the framework, the main question is “What method of appeal will you use this year – small group gatherings, house to house information packets, coffee hour conversations, series of mailings, etc.? Then, how long will the formal portion of the Appeal be – will it cover 4, 6 or 8 weeks? Will there be mailings, and if so, how many? Will you use “Temple Talks”, “Mission Moments”, etc. (3-5 minute speakers) during the announcement time at Worship? Most pre-packaged Appeal materials will answer these and other framework questions.
When setting the dates, start with setting the date for your Commitment Sunday and then back plan the rest of the dates for the appeal. Be sure to take into consideration other church, organizational, community or regional events. (You really don’t want to set your commitment Sunday for the same time as the opening of hunting season, local High School event, or other activity that will conflict with your appeal.)
Now is a great time to enlist your volunteers and build your appeal team. Remember that “many hands make light work”. You want to spread the work load out over your volunteers so that no one person feels overburdened. Be clear about expectations, what you are asking for folks to do, and what the general timeline looks like at the beginning of this process. Be clear that you are asking folks to bring their particular skill set, creativity, and gifts to this work, and then encourage and free them to use them all. It is also important to ask them who they would want to invite to work with them for their particular role or task for the appeal.
When thinking about picking a theme, you may want to seek assistance from your regional and or national church body for themes and materials. There are a variety of materials available, some may be free or at low cost. You may also want to search out materials from other church bodies or even para-church organizations who specialize in this area.
Be sure to include your church or organizational leadership in the planning, they have important roles in the success of your appeal. The pastor, treasurer, financial secretary, church office secretary, president, etc. all have important perspectives and information critical to the success of the appeal.
As you begin your planning, my hope is that you will find this process and work enjoyable, creative, and most of all a celebration of the ministries of your church or the mission of your organization. It is at the core of the work that you are called to do.
Scott A. Jacob, Sr. Program Director
The James Company