The annual partner conference and 40th anniversary celebration for Christian Stewardship Services (CSS) took place on November 3, 2016. Maynard Wiersma, Executive Director of Christian Stewardship Services, looked back on the 40 years: “Christian Stewardship Services started as something ‘for’ the supporters of 12 Christian organizations. Now, 40 years later, Christian Stewardship Services has grown to a staff of 10 people and is available to do planned giving with and for the supporters of our 40 partner charities.”
The theme of the conference was “Telling Your Story.” The partner conference included opportunities for representatives from some of the partner charities to share their stories with each other. Henry Koornneef shared the story of the Christian School Foundation. Albertha Bosch is a new board member for Christian Stewardship Services, and she had a story about the Ministry to Seafarers in Montreal. Dan Van Keeken talked about the positive impact that Christian Stewardship Services has had on The King’s University in Edmonton. Ida Kaastra-Mutoigo shared the story of World Renew. Rhonda Kalverda explained how CSS did a “will clinic” at Cambridge Christian School to help people from their community get more clarity regarding their wills and wealth transfer planning. Rhonda described the response as overwhelmingly positive. Koornneef encouraged the audience to “embrace planned giving opportunities to see the organizations you love continue ministering into the future.” Kaastra-Mutoigo talked about how Christian Stewardship Services is “helping donors in their lives and beyond their earthly life to make an impact in the world.”
Trends in Canada
I was delighted to hear that in the last two years, CSS has assisted individuals in designating $54 million to charity in their wills. Ninety-nine percent of the will allocations in the last two years were designated to Christian ministries. In the last year, just over $4 million was distributed to charities and 92 percent went to churches, education and mission.
Paul Nazareth from CanadaHelps.org was the keynote speaker. He is an expert on philanthropy and planned giving. He also teaches planned giving courses on behalf of the Canadian Association of Gift Planners. He shared some amazing statistics. The following information is about Canada-wide donations, not about donations through Christian Stewardship Services:
- 7-10 percent of overall fundraising revenue is now raised online.
- In 2015, Canadians donated $15 billion to charity.
- In 2015, between Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve, Canadians donated $1 billion per day to charities.
Paul Nazareth stated that, “research shows that the generation younger than the boomers don’t know how to give their assets. CSS . . . teaches people how.” Nazareth went on to state that having the “emotional capacity to talk and listen is still where CSS has a massive advantage over all the non-Christian philanthropy planners.”
He also shared research from Dr. Russell James, who found that when participants in his research study were experiencing being generous, the part of the brain that lit up the most was the part that is connected to autobiography. I found this to be a fascinating scientific fact that reiterates that a person’s will can be an opportunity to express the story of their lives – especially their love and respect for Jesus their Saviour and for their earthly loved ones. Nazareth concluded by saying, “there’s a reason it’s called ‘The Last Will and Testament.’ This is the last chance to tell your values.”