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I wrote the following piece of fiction in 2003 when Edinburgh Methodist Mission were planning a Christian Giving campaign. I was in favour of the campaign, though you might not think so from this piece.

To: Members of Hope Springs Eternal Methodist Church

I know you will be delighted to hear that our EasiGiv™ Christian Giving campaign is now finished. The Thanksgiving Service will take place this Sunday morning.

I would take this opportunity to say a few words about how the campaign has gone. I suppose it could be called a post‐mortem.

I have to say I think our slogan for the campaign, EasiGiv™, was inspired. Certainly it triggered great interest and discussion, not least at our initial Presentation.

Somewhat less than 100% successful, however, was the decision to format the Presentation as a Charity Ball, with tickets at £50 (married couples £99.75, unmarried couples £110, third and subsequent children free), to include a bread‐and‐cheese lunch. This proved a little controversial, even though we resolutely upheld the Biblical principle of proportionate giving by offering a generous 60% discount to all members who declared themselves as belonging to socioeconomic class Lower Supervisory and Technical or below. We still believe that the idea was sound in principle. After all, we had to find some way to recoup the £2,500 we had invested in acquiring the domain name and the £3,500 spent on the car registration plate EA51 GIV.

We suffered an early setback when we lost the services of Dame Anastasia Trinity‐Godhead. She resigned in a huff on the grounds that her name was misspelled on our Brochure. That was a feeble excuse. She should have been grateful for the care we had taken. We had carefully avoided sexist language by describing her as our Matron and not our Patron. Her name is long and when you compare the right and wrong versions it was hardly misspelled at all, so I think she was looking for an excuse to resign anyway. So it wasn’t our fault. Not that it would have been our fault in any case. We can hardly be blamed for Microsoft Spelling Checker changing Anastasia into Anaesthesia.

We impressed on our Messengers the importance of approaching members with honesty and sensitivity, and I think that, by and large, they succeeded. I do not pretend that there were not occasional mistakes. And some of the mistakes really were hilarious! It was outrageous of Mrs Rawbottom to tell Brigadier W C Scrimgeour that an old miser like him must have thousands stashed away that he could give to the church. We are pleased however to learn that old Scrims is being accepted into the membership of St Benedict and St George and St Thomas Aquinas and St‑Christopher‐by‐the‐River Scottish Episcopal Church a week on Sunday. Their loss is our gain. And it was quite unethical for young Billy “Bold as Brass” Bates to suggest to Professor Worthington that a man on his salary should be thankfully and cheerfully multiplying his giving by ten. After all, when you think about it, it is an entirely private and confidential matter between Professor Worthington and his God, how little of his salary of £79,500 he donates to the church. Fortunately other Messengers were more discreet.

I must acknowledge a great debt of gratitude to our Recorder Mr Grimes, who fulfilled his duties with great professionalism. It is not his fault that Mrs Grimes accidentally displayed his alphabetical list of pledges on our Church Notice Board. We are indebted to our quick‐thinking Senior Steward Mrs Maladapt, who spotted the mistake and was able to remove the offending notice within a week of its first appearing.

So, in financial terms, how did our campaign fare? At first sight, our success may seem modest. Total weekly giving increased from £544.00 to £546.50, an increase of just over 0.4%. But those bald figures are misleading, for they conceal a quite remarkable average increase of 60% in the giving of each and every member, when you take into account the drop in our total membership between the start and the end of the campaign.

And there is good news in other directions too. It is not only through direct giving that our church activities are supported. Members will recall that, last year, our charity shop showed record takings. The good news is that the record has been broken again this year, after adding in the takings from the closing‐down sale.

There are many innovative and exciting ways that we could have displayed the results of the campaign, but most of those have been unreasonably vetoed by what is left of our Planning Group. It would have been especially revealing to see a breakdown by racial origin, or a breakdown that distinguished between our own members and those members that we acquired 47 years ago when New Street Primitive Methodist Church finally gave up the ghost. In the event, I am able to publish one table only. It shows our members’ pledges for weekly giving in bands, as follows:

 5 members have pledged £20 or more per week, totalling £127.00 per week
13 members have pledged £10–£19.99 per week, totalling £179.00 per week
24 members have pledged  £5–£9.99 per week, totalling £183.00 per week
17 members have pledged  £1–£4.99 per week, totalling  £57.00 per week
Grand total: £546.00 per week

Even this table I was nearly unable to publish. Lt Col P W Gumbotes opposed it vehemently, believing quite irrationally that if such a table were published, his own pledge would be evident from it. At last I got permission to publish it, but at Mr Gumbotes’ insistence I have omitted his own pledge from it. Members can however compare the incomplete total that it shows, £546.00 per week, with the complete total of £546.50 per week shown earlier in this circular, and they can draw their own conclusions.

It has been difficult to find a preacher for our Thanksgiving Service this Sunday. Of the 12 ministers and local preachers in our Circuit, six have declined on the grounds of a prior engagement, and five have declined without giving a reason. Where has the honesty gone, that we prayed for at our Presentation? If preachers have prior engagements, they need not be ashamed to say so! We are grateful to Miss Katie Innocent for agreeing to take the service. It is her first preaching appointment since she was confirmed as a local preacher last month.

Unfortunately there has been a further reduction in our membership since my first draft of this circular. Our Thanksgiving Service this Sunday promises to be quite a cosy little affair. It will start at our normal time of 11.00 am. I hope you can both come.

Yours sincerely

I. B. Feckless
Secretary, EasiGiv™ Planning Group