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Harriett Jane Olson

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May/June response: Responsively Yours

Gifts are an Essential Component of Responding

by Harriett Jane Olson

Let’s talk about Mission Giving. Mission Giving supports local, district, Conference, and national work as well as the mission and ministry that connects to our National Mission Institutions and our global partners. Unlike other general agencies, our organization does not receive funding from the UMC. Instead, our work is funded by our members—members from our past who established endowments and current members who give to Mission Giving.

Harriett Jane Olson
Harriett Jane Olson gives the keynote address during closing worship at Assembly 2022.

Many of you have seen Mission Giving decline and expenses rise in the areas where you serve. United Women in Faith at every level of the organization has creatively reorganized work by reducing expenses and making the money go further. COVID-19 changed many things, including our tried-and-true patterns of fundraising.

As we did at the national office early in the pandemic, many of you were able to reduce expenses temporarily and make gifts to places of need. Unfortunately, as of this date, Mission Giving has not yet rebounded, and it looks as if some of those “temporary” reductions and some new ones will be needed unless we collectively recommit to Mission Giving.

Friends, I want you to know that reducing our expenditures is not the way to grow our mission impact. Careful spending is a must, but reduced Mission Giving results in reduced grants and programming in critical areas. Our call to mission is strong, and the needs of women, children, and youth are many. What if we thought about both our personal giving and our fundraising goals as they compare to the scope of our calling. Our hands and feet and our gifts are all essential components of how we respond to God’s call to love the world.

Let’s find new ways to remind ourselves about our work that Mission Giving supports, such as developing and offering training opportunities, creating and publishing print resources like response, supporting our online presence, engaging in social justice campaigns, and administering grants. Let that motivate us to try new ways to raise support.

You’ll see a few new initiatives from the national office this year, and I know there are vast amounts of creativity and commitment throughout the organization. If your unit or district or conference held one additional fundraiser for giving beyond your pledge amount this year, what would it be?

Aren’t there people each one of us could enlist who would be pleased to contribute to the important work of United Women in Faith even though they may not (yet) participate in other ways? This might be someone who is committed to similar work or someone who is moved by your commitment and would be happy to support you in a birthday fundraiser or a Move for Mission event, or some other fundraising project.

If there is one thing I would like to leave for a new general secretary/CEO, beyond what we have already accomplished together, it would be an organization that has no doubt about the importance of Mission Giving, whose members can verbalize why it matters and who are engaged in renewing and refreshing our giving and fundraising work so that all of us participate in it as part of our spiritual calling.

Friends, our calling is strong, and the need is great. Giving is one of many ways we respond, and it is as important now as it has ever been. Thank you for all the ways you offer yourselves to this work!

Harriett Jane Olson
General Secretary
United Women in Faith

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