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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Ask the Matriarchs: Rubber Pledges

This week's Ask the Matriarch is probably our shortest ever, mostly owing to everyone including myself being swamped for the holidays. But it's a fairly pointed question and one that needs addressing quickly, and Ann's advice is so spot-on helpful that we have to share:

We have an older woman who has bounced 4 or 5 offering cheques this year—two of them this month. What is the best way to approach her?

Ann says:
Directly—but with the attitude that you are concerned about the charges she is incurring by bouncing checks. Try to open the door to a conversation about the stewardship of her personal resources.

Perhaps she could use a non-profit service that helps people with budgeting (not one of those debt consolidation businesses who end up with the money + interest). Bouncing checks is a sign that she is in over her head—and may not know how to get out of it. Giving to the church as much as she is giving may be too much.

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  1. Not knowing her exact age, I'd be worried about dementia or other cognitive impairment.

    I've found that people in financial crisis typically don't write checks to the church- Especially if they are aware they will bounce....

    Just my two cents... But a direct conversation where you listen to direct as well as indirect cues is certainly in order...

  2. interesting dilemma. No such thing as cheques here :)

  3. I'm with listing straight - if this is something new in the way she has been pledging, she may not fully understand what is happening. Does she has family members around to check with? To at least inquire on what they are seeing and not necessarily bringing up the specific issue.

    I know if this was happening to my parent, I would want to know since this would be a change in behavior for her that would note to me that I would need to see what was going on with her.

  4. I too agree w/listing straight and Cathy. The elderly unknowinly make errors in balancing their check books.

    Ann is right on w/her advice too. Nothing will be accomplished by beating around the bush. And the woman needs to know that the church's concern is for her and not just its own benefit.

  5. Another possibility is that this woman is the victim of identity theft and has less money in her bank account than she thinks she does. This happened to an elderly member of my former congregation. Her "helpful" neighbor who did so many errands and chores for her turned out to be using her debit and credit cards.

  6. GIven the ongoing debate about "how much should the minister know about who gives what", a related question would be who does the approaching?

    Minister? MEmber of Board? Both together?

  7. At this point it's far less about her giving to the church and much more truly pastoral care. I don't want to know what people give, but I could address this one. It would definitely start with "we were worried about you..."


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