After forty-plus years on staff, we’ve given our ministry partners various appreciation gifts. Sometimes it’s hard to come up with new or creative ideas, especially when we’ve gifted the same people for decades. I hope this post has some new ideas for you. You might be wondering why I’m writing about these ideas in February, on Valentine’s Day, to be exact. If we limit our thank you gifts to December, our gift may “get lost” in a sense because of all the other gifts people receive at that time. Why not spread out your giving and surprise your ministry partners on a special occasion (Valentine’s Day, their anniversary, etc.) or “just because.” I hope you’ll come back to this post any time of the year.
Ideas for Appreciation Gifts for Ministry Partners
For Cru staff, your first stop might be CruCoolGear. You’ll be surprised by what they have, such as, pens, coasters, mugs, and such. They even have a monthly gift arrangement you might be interested in.
If you travel, you may already be bringing home items with a global look. If you don’t go overseas, many local stores or websites may have some creative options for you. Your friends will probably appreciate the stories and “give it back” opportunities behind these gifts. Here’s just a sample:
- Sserv began in 1949 and has enough variety that you should be able to find food, decor, etc. from their artisans and farmers.
- Ten Thousand Villages, another fair trade store, may have a store near you.
- For every bar of soap purchased, Hand in Hand donates a bar to a child overseas, plus a month of clean water.
- Article 22 offers products from war scrap by Laotian artisans, like this dove ornament.
- Affordable jewelry from Tne Noonday Collection is made by 28 artisans in 12 countries.
Of course, combining ministry themes with your gifts is a great idea, but also be willing to give gifts according to their hobbies or interests. Maybe do some things together just to get to know them (but I’m getting ahead of myself… that topic is in part two, next week).
Read on for a variety of tips; many of these are easily affordable.
Most of the Usual Ideas
- JESUS DVDs
- Handmade gifts
- Candles and potpourri
- Soaps, lotions, and scrubs
- Food (candy, eating in or eating out, homemade treats, …)
- Call FamilyLife to arrange for discounts for Weekend to Remember
A common photo gift is a magnet. Staff recommended these companies (the first two accept staff account transfers):
Make Your Own
One summer, I decided to make a calendar of some of our best landscape photography (a favorite hobby of ours) to send to our top partners. I created the calendar mid-year (so I wasn’t rushing through this in November). I order six or so calendars every December. Spread out over the next five years, I will have given a calendar to all thirty of our top ministry friends. Because I have an account with Shutterfly, I don’t have to re-create the photos for this calendar each time. We’ll send these calendars to our long-term major partners who’ve already received a half-dozen other books, DVDs, etcetera, over the years.
Your photos for the calendar months could be of your ministry location and/or action shots of your students, using the captions for prayer requests. Alternately, you could just choose to do photos of your family. You know best what would appeal to your team. Or make the entire calendar a prayer calendar. At the minimum, you could mark the Days of Prayer or other Cru events on the days, inviting your ministry partners to pray for Christmas conferences and Big Break.
I like the 8 1/2 x 11-inch calendars. I prefer to use Shutterfly, but other companies include Snapfish.com, Smartpress, and Vistaprint.
Order a Cru Calendar
This year, instead of our calendar, we sent sixty Cru calendars with award-winning photos and ministry highlights. Hopefully, Cru will offer these annually.
Other Photo Ideas
Are you creative with photo books? Would highlights of your ministry or family be meaningful to your ministry partners?
I was very impressed by one staff couple’s idea of a cookbook with recipes of all of the meals and snacks the students loved to eat at their home. It had a lot of pictures and captions of students and of their family. Brent shared that their ministry partners still talk about this cookbook ten years later.
Want a nicer photo gift? Check out Photo Barn for photos on wood, burlap, canvas,…
Of course, I had to dig up some digital ideas for you!
- Tile is on sale this week. These Bluetooth trackers help people find their lost or misplaced things. If you buy several, they’ll be under $20 each.
- Find out if your friends like to read. Send eBooks (or Books) from Amazon directly to them… no trips to the post office needed.
- Coasters, Mouse pads, …
- Ornaments (maybe of your campus?)
- I haven’t used Uncommon Goods, but they do seem to think out-of-the-box.
- Check out engraved gifts by former staff at GoEngraved.
- We live in Orlando, so Disney trinkets are available in local stores.
- What is very regional for your part of the world? Local honey? Seafood seasoning?
When Do You Send These?
I used to check over names at the beginning of every year to see who “hit a giving milestone” of a 5-year or a $5000 total increment (does that make sense?) and then I’d plan what to send to whom. I’ve let this go for a while and am catching up this year. I have a stack of books and things, so it’s just a matter of getting them out. (The new 2017 gifts guidelines: you’re allowed a maximum of $100 / family per year in value.)
Next week, I’ll write part two, Things to Do with Your Ministry Partners. What do you do for a family who has everything or doesn’t want a gift? Maybe my ideas next week will help.
Do you have ideas to share? Comment here or on Facebook. Pass these ideas along to your friends!
- Something to keep in mind: No gift cards. These and gift certificates are not reimbursable because they are “cash gifts.”
- When in doubt, contact Staff Services at (888) CRU-7233, option 2, 2 or by emailing staff.services at cru.org.
- I found many of the recommendations for this post through conversations in the Facebook group, MPD Sharing of Ideas. If you’re on Cru Global staff and not yet a member of this group, email me at e4e at cru.org. We have over 1,500 members who are very active answering questions and passing along ideas for all things MPD.
- Our photo is from the calendar I made and was taken at Windsor Castle.
Appreciation Gifts for Ministry Partners by Sus Schmitt is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.