All of us want to be successful when it comes to raising funds, but sometimes we lack the skills and tools to get the results we want. So let’s discuss 10 technology tools that will help get you to where you want to go. Best of all, these tools are free to use.
In today’s 21st century, we are blessed to run funding campaigns in so many different ways, but the best part is that there are many free technologies that allow us to reach thousands of people and therefore have thousands of donors.
By using these tools, you’ll avoid missing your campaign goals and instead build up your funds for lasting success.
I’m so excited to announce the launch my second book, Pray Pray Pray Ask. It’s the Catholic manual on how to follow your vocation, raise funds, and spread the Gospel in the 21st century. Though I am stuck … I don’t know which of the four covers to use. Which do you like best?
Let me give you some background information on what the book is about. Then you can help me pick the best one.
Why I picked the title: Pray, Pray, Pray, Ask
I choose the title Pray, Pray, Pray, Ask because of the four different forms of prayer the catechism talks about: Blessing, Intercession, Thanksgiving, and Petition. When we think of fundraising for a Catholic cause, we immediately think of asking, otherwise known as a petition.
I was inspired by the catechism because a great and inspirational petition can only happen when you are doing the other three activities: thanking people, helping people, and acknowledging people for who they are.
The book is designed to go into specific detail about solving many of the problems Catholic face when fundraising by using the catechism’s approach for how we pray. I make the analogy that asking people for funds is analogous to asking God for specific things or graces in our life. The Catechism teaches us how to form a proper petition to God which helps us also form a proper gift request to people. I know this because I’ve used it in my own fundraising with great success. This happens because I am more genuine and Catholic with how I approach the subject of money with people.
The 4 Big Lessons Inside this Book
In this book, you are going to learn four key lessons that will help you fundraise better:
How to correctly asking for donations in the light of our Catholic faith
What to do when things get tough and how to turn it around
Why Catholics give and the underlying reasons they’d give to you
Where to start increasing your funding or even start with your first campaign
As I send the book to the publisher for final review, which book (cover do you like the best? Please let me know what you think which I should use:
Which background (plain or old-paper)?
How should I structure the title text?
^ Option #1 ^
^ Option #2 ^
^ Option #3 ^
^ Option #4 ^
Question: Which cover do you like best? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
The level of destruction by Hurricane Harvey has been biblical. Like me, you have been following what’s been happening in Houston and the surrounding areas this past week. Residents have been pounded with rain, winds, tornadoes, and flooding. Now Hurricane Irma is on its way.
As we watch the rescue efforts, we are all looking for ways to do our part. Perhaps you are thinking of:
Praying a novena Travelling to Houston to help Sending food and water Connecting with locals in your area to organize a relief response Donating money to a charity Raising funds to support people you know
Today, we see the aftermath and look to rebuild. Many people have taken to social media and the internet to raise money.
While fundraising can help, I have learned how to raise money a much more effective way. Here are five strategies that I am currently using.
People are inspired to give when you share with them how things are moving forward. Keep people updated on how you are are rebuilding after the disaster. This motivates people to give. Read more about this topic here.
4. Don’t just ask for money.
Only a fraction of people will be able to donate. However, they can do other things, like provide resources and volunteer. Also, they may be able to donate later on. So make sure to get people involved in other ways. Check out this article on how to do this.
5. Thank people.
Make sure to thank people for their contributions. While the focus is helping people, it’s important to remember that relationships and community are as important as money. Take the time to thank people as intimately as possible (not just via a social media post). Read more about thanking people in this article.
Conclusion – Fundraising in the aftermath of a disaster
When it comes to fundraising after a disaster, we need to remember it’s not just about raising as many funds as possible. Suffice it to say, getting Houston back to normal will take time. Therefore, looking at fundraising in the long-term is more effective than just a short-burst of asking for money.
Focus on building relationships with the people God is placing in your life. This is the good that comes from these terrible events. As a result, you will build a network of friends, volunteers, and donors that will help you in the coming months and years.
Question: What’s your best fundraising strategy for rebuilding after a disaster? You can leave a comment below.
You strive to be a saint because doing God’s will is why you get up every morning. Though right now, at this very moment, there are two distinctions between you and a saint. The first is that a saint is already in heaven and you are on earth. The second is people know a saint’s story and not yours. You may have to wait for the first, but you can start today with telling people your story. Plus, I don’t want you to leave for heaven right now. We need more workers in the vineyard. Therefore, I want people to know your story so you can inspire them with your zeal for the Lord.
Why is sharing your story so important? It’s because while you are a pilgrim on his way to the Kingdom of Heaven, your story tells how you are getting there. Your story is the compilation of everything you’ve doing for God and everything he does for you. More importantly, your story shares how others can follow your example, and the world needs more examples of people striving for sainthood, wouldn’t you agree?
Take for example a video I filmed of a train trip to Rome. I thought nothing of it at the time, but by recording what I was doing, I realized that I could share on a personal level my story. Suddenly, the trip became more than a simple train trip. It became less about me and more about why I was going, what inspired me, and what I hoped to accomplish in Rome. Surprisingly, these points interested a good number of people. But the important lesson I learned was that the simple actions I take in my life also can be shared to inspire others into action. When it comes to asking for donations, inspiration is fundamental, and the more you can do this, the better your fundraising will be. Therefore, share your story regularly.
Stories are profoundly important. We can celebrate a saint’s life because we know what he or she did during their life. For some saints, we know a lot about their story. For others we know only a few lines. Though with each story, long or short, we are inspired by the ups and downs they faced and how they prevailed. We know the trials, the struggles, and the persecutions.
Most importantly, we know how they responded and the result. We know all of this because we know their story, and thanks to their stories, we can learn and follow their path.
Your story is how you evangelize people’s support to your work
Pope Paul VI explains best why your story is the best form of evangelization.
To evangelize is first of all to bear witness, in a simple and direct way, to God revealed by Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit, to bear witness that in His Son God has loved the world.
But evangelization would not be complete if it did not take account of the unceasing interplay of the Gospel and of man’s concrete life, both personal and social.
Evangelii Nuntiani (Evangelization in the Modern World) – Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Paul VI
[Tweet “Evangelization must take account of the constant interplay of the Gospel & man’s life. – Paul VI”]
So, yes, I’m talking about evangelizing. This term that gets always referenced yet too often we scratch our heads asking, “Well, how am I supposed to do that?” Pope Paul VI tells us exactly how to evangelize: through your life. Your story and life are one in the same.
Remember, you are a saint in progress, and your story explains how you overcome struggles and follow God to reach heaven. The life you are living at this moment is your journey to God, and it needs to be shared.
Stories are the bedrock of great Catholic fundraising
So how does your story relate to fundraising? It’s straightforward. People donate not because you asked them to give. People give financially because your story inspires them to do so. They see how you are bringing Jesus Christ to the people around you.
Therefore, if you are not receiving as many donations as you’d like, it’s may be because you are not sharing your story (e.g. evangelizing) enough. Not enough people know who you are, what you are doing, and inspired by your life which mirrors Jesus Christ.
The simple solution is to tell your story more often. In fact, to be a fantastic Catholic fundraiser, the objective is to share it every day.
[Tweet “To be a fantastic Catholic fundraiser, the objective is to share it every day.”]
Storytelling is the foundation for great fundraising because as I said people donate to what inspires them. They don’t donate because you asked. If you aren’t telling people on a consistent basis how you are bringing Christ into the world, then how are you inspiring them? That’s the missing link in having a successful campaign and long-term growth.
The simple reason so many Catholics aren’t raising funds
I am overwhelmed by how many incredible Catholic apostolates, orders, parishes, schools, and organizations I meet who are petrified to tell their story. Yes, you heard me correctly. They are scared cold to say what they are doing.
In fact, they are more scared to share their story (how they are saving lives and souls) than to ask people for donations.
They come to me asking to help them find donations because they think that is the challenge. They think that money will solve their problems and get them to the next level. When I offer them a full-proof plan for raising funds but explain that it first starts with sharing their story, they freeze. It’s insane. I cannot explain it because they are doing God’s work, but something inside of them is keeping them locked in.
Why are they looking for donations when they cannot even speak about what they do? Fear. Fear of actually doing God’s work and then getting donations to do even more. Fear of inspiring people. Fear of helping more people. Fear of doing something that is beyond their imagination.
Yes, I’m completely serious. People – especially honest, faith-filled Catholics – are scared to let Christ lead them within them knowing exactly where they are going. In other words, you have to have faith that no matter what happens, Jesus will take care of you.
This, my fellow Catholic, is hard. I know because I’m this way. You are likely, too. Following Jesus is no simple task. It’s scary at times to trust him.
[Tweet “Following Jesus is no simple task. It’s scary at times to trust him.”]
Telling your story today will help you fundraise immediately
We mask our inabilities to follow Jesus with the excuse that we need money first. Catholics tell me often, “God is calling me to do [insert vocation], but I’ve got to get the funds first.” I hear this almost every day. Catholics think they need to fundraise first. It’s the exact opposite.
You need to go out in the world are do your mission and telling your story, 365 days of the year, and then, you can successfully fundraise. You don’t need money. You don’t need a major donor backing your work. You just need to get up and start today.
Take for example the major Catholic charities that are bringing in millions each year. What are they doing throughout the year? Telling their story, and that’s why they are so big. It’s also how they got big in the first place.
They regularly told their story – like so many saints – and gradually grew. Saint Ignatius, Saint Bernard, Saint Thomas Aquinas, and Saint Benedict were so successful in spreading the Gospel and building their religious orders because they constantly told their stories. I’m sure you can name a local charity that does the same.
You may object to what I am saying. You may be thinking that you need money to tell your story. You may argue that these big charities are successful in telling their story because of the money they are raising. Well, you’re wrong. You don’t need lots of money to tell your story.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.
Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Saint Paul, 2 Corinthians 12
Your step by step guide to telling 1,000,000 Catholics your story, for free
As Pope Paul VI says in his apostolic exhortation, Evangelization in the Modern World, we must use social communications to spread our stories.
Our century is characterized by the mass media or means of social communication, and the first proclamation, catechesis or the further deepening of faith cannot do without these means, as we have already emphasized.
You have to use social communications (social media) to tell your story, and the best part: it’s free. That’s one of the miracles of being a Catholic the 21st century.
You can talk about your faith to more people than ever before. Back in the day, to share your story by video, you had to get on TV. That could be difficult to do, and if you want to start a station, it was costly. Now, you can start your own YouTube channel in minutes, which costs nothing and upload your videos.
To share your story by audio, your only option in the past was to get on the radio. Again, this could be costly and difficult to do. Now, thanks to the internet and social media, it’s free and accessible to everyone. You can setup your channel through iTunes, SoundCloud, or Stitcher in minutes.
To share your story by text 10 years ago, you would have to write a book, find a publisher, and hope they’d distribute it for you. Now, you can share your story via a blog and share it with the world for free. You can also write and publish an e-book and distribute it online. Again, for free. Do you see the recurring theme? No more costs of publishing, printing, and distributing. It’s all free.
In the past, to give regular updates or ask for donations, you had to spend loads of money to mail newsletters and magazines to people. Again, this was an incredibly costly method and therefore limited to the people who could afford it. Now, anyone (meaning you) can update people for free via email using email services like MailChimp, ConstantContact, Aweber. What’s even better: you can do it instantaneously. You don’t have to wait days for them to receive your update. Nor do you have to wait to hear a response.
You also have services that allow you to host live video conferences/seminars (also called webinars) where you can gather a group of people in real time to talk with one another. I’ve been on webinars that have had over 1,000 people attending. It was a fantastic experience.
I would like to share one last signification point about social communications. You have numerous social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Medium, Tumblr, LinkedIn) to share with people what you are doing by text, audio, and video.
You have all these free services with the ability to reach nearly every Catholics on planet earth. You are no longer constrained by geography, money, or resources. All you need is a laptop, electrical source, and internet connection to tell your story.
Can it get any easier? Do you see the miracle in front of you? Pope Paul VI is demanding you get plugged in and start spreading your message about Jesus Christ. Go. Tell all nations. Now.
Your story will help you find donors and gifts
So what’s stopping you from telling your story and inspiring thousands, if not millions of people? What’s stopping you from taking your cause to the next level? It surely isn’t money.
If what you are doing is of God and for God, he will surely take care of you. Take what I am saying to heart and start telling your story today.
Each day the people are to go out and gather their daily portion; thus will I test them, to see whether they follow my instructions or not. – Exodus 16
When you start sharing your story, they will do three things. First, they will be grateful to hear from you. Two, they will be inspired to share your story with their networks of friends, family, and fellow parishioners. And three, a certain number of those people will be inspired to support you the next time you ask.
This is how you fundraise in a Catholic context in the 21st century. This is how you take your apostolate to the next level. These are the seeds you plant so that God can grow them for you. Do God’s work, and he will help you do even more.
Here is the Pray, Pray, Pray, Ask approach for telling your story:
PRAY: Stop everything you are doing and get a pen and paper. Now, take 15 minutes and reflect on what your mission is. Ask yourself: Who are the people you wish to help and what concrete actions are you taking to serve them? Write the response.
PRAY: Take 15 minutes to reflect on all the people who make your mission possible. This includes the people and groups who help you do your work. Remember that help can come in many ways, not just financially. They can provide time, energy, knowledge, material, and connections. Write down their names and what each of them does.
PRAY: Take 15 minutes to reflect on the three ways you can tell your story. Is it through audio? Video? Text? Live event? What are the four social platforms (blog, vlog, podcast, social page, etc.) you can use to tell your story? Write a weekly plan for what modes (audio, text, video) you will tell your story and what social platforms you will use.
My recommendation is always to have a website and email list. These are the two building blocks every Catholic organization should have. From there, you can add social media platforms.
ASK: The time is now to take action. Share your story once a week with the people who help you do your mission through these four channels you selected. Ask them to reply, share, and comment on your story each time you share it with them. Then, from time to time, ask them to give a gift or to purchase an item.
Welcome, July! We just passed the halfway point of 2017, and I have to ask a simple but important yes or no question, “are you on track with your fundraising?”
I will make the bold assumption that you are behind. Maybe even far behind. Why? Because like most Catholic fundraisers, executives, and directors, you realize that fundraising is more challenging that you expected. After looking back at the past six months, you have come to the conclusion that raising funds doesn’t just happens by chance.
More than likely, you are behind because of one of the following reasons. (Actually, it could be a few of these reasons. Maybe even all of them.)
1. You don’t have as much time as you hoped to fundraise
2. You don’t know where to find donors
3. You don’t know whom to ask
4. You don’t know how to ask
5. You have a hundred other things to do and cannot focus on fundraising
6. You fell behind early in the year and didn’t know how to get back on track
7. You are overwhelmed by the competition for people’s donations
These are just seven possibilities among many. What other challenges are you facing? You can let me know by leaving a comment below.
How would you like to solve these challenges today?
For the first 26 weeks of 2017, I have submitted an article each week on how to fundraise more efficiently in the Catholic context. If you are subscribed to my website, you receive these articles directly into your inbox along with private access to additional resources to keep you moving forward.
If you are not subscribed, you can do so here and benefit today from these resources.
I send an article a week because the key to success with fundraising is simple. It’s all about perseverance and implementation. Implementation happens when you persevere, week after week, and move forward with your fundraising goal.
I post an article every week because I know that continually giving you new ideas also gives you more encouragement, more focus, and better chances of succeeding. Therefore, you have the solutions for solving all your challenges.
To get back on track, you have to change
You now have a choice. For the next 26 weeks of the year, you can change your trajectory and get back on track with fundraising. But to do so, you cannot do what you did for the past 26 weeks. The key to success in fundraising is not about finding that one, magical donation. That’s unfortunately how most Catholic organizations fundraise, which is why they are behind. They now have just 6 months to hopefully find it.
The key to success in fundraising is not about finding that one, magical donation. That’s unfortunately how most Catholic organizations fundraise, which is why they are behind. They are hoping to find it before Christmas. Well, the odds are stacked against you. By fundraising this way, you are placing everything you do at unnecessary risk.
Rather, success is a direct result of pigheaded determination and discipline. This doesn’t mean you constantly ask for donations. It means you gradually improve how you look for donors, how you ask them, and how you nurture the relationships.
My promise with this website is that you will learn how to fundraise for your charity, non-profit, school, or religious order resulting in the finest, most efficient, and most Catholic approach possible.
This way you can save even more lives and souls.
At CatholicFundraiser.net, you will get the tools to become an expert in three crucial areas: communicating, fundraising, and stewardship. Mastery in each of these areas is necessary to make you raise money with success.
Fundraising success is at your fingertips
You can profoundly improve your fundraising if you commit to one hour per week in which you do nothing else but work on making fundraising more efficient. With the ideas and content provided via this website, you will learn exactly how to spend that hour.
My approach to fundraising is laid out in straightforward language with practical examples spelled out from every angle. The most critical angle being Catholic. And the best part is that you’re not going to work harder; you’re only going to work smarter.
So, I offer you this opportunity. If you are ready to dramatically improve your fundraising, subscribe to my website if you haven’t done so already. You can do so by clicking here.
And, if you are willing to make a giant leap, I am offering you the chance to catch up with your fundraising goal in the next 26 weeks.
Question: What is the biggest challenge you are facing today with fundraising and how can I help?
To get a free copy of the book, jump to this page. (Warning: there is a LIMITED supply. So, first come, first serve.)
You will really like this interview because Dave and I talk about how to overcome some of the biggest obstacles when it comes to asking for donations.
I also shared my story of how I got started in fundraising for Catholic organizations. A few years ago, I quit my job in consulting to help my diocese raise $60 million. Soon after, I started helping Catholic charities in my community with their fundraising.
Since then, I’ve never looked back.
Today, I help over 20,000 Catholics each month through my website. I also travel the world to share my thoughts and ideas. Next month, I am speaking at a conference hosted by Caritas Internationalis, which is the Vatican’s arm of charitable services and raises over $1 billion a year.
How did the Alms book get written?
I’ve learned to trust God and follow my vocation to help as many Catholics as possible with their fundraising. It sounds like a crazy vocation, and in the beginning, like Abraham, I was scared. I thought, “was this what God really wanted me to do?”
I lacked the faith and trust to respond, but little by little (with the help of daily Masses and rosaries), I persevered.
As I learned to believe more and more (kind of like what Fr. Michael E. Gaitley talks about in 33 Days to Merciful Love), things took off.
Now, I teach Catholics how to overcome the hurdles of combining faith and money.
How to fundraise for your Catholic cause
In the interview, I highlight the importance of focusing your attention on God and not on money. You have to always remember that you don’t need money. You may think you do, but you don’t. You need God.
Then, when you got your bearings right and are moving forward, it may be the right time to fundraising.
The Alms book is your definitive guide to Catholic fundraising
The book is structured so that anyone can move quickly with raising funds. Even if you don’t have donors, and you don’t know where to start, this book will help you move forward.
I also talk about the importance of being 100% Catholic. Too often Catholic charities, organizations, religious orders, dioceses, and parishes shy away from their Catholic identity because they are afraid it’ll scare donors.
In my experience, the opposite is true. Catholics (and even non-Catholics) are most inspired to give when they see authentic Catholicism.
So be Catholic!
You can pick up a free copy today (remember: there’s a limited supply… ) and move your Catholic work forward.
The book focuses heavily on the practical side of fundraising in the Catholic context. Plus, it is less than 100 pages, so it’s a quick read, allowing you to move forward quickly.
Kerry, a director of the National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management and a Catholic fundraiser, offers a valuable look at what it takes to fundraise in the Catholic context.
I enjoyed reading this book because Kerry offers real life examples of how to deal with money and faith. Every recommendation is validated from a situation she experienced.
She also makes every effort to share practical advice to help move you go even further with your fundraising.
12 Strategies from Kerry Alys Robinson’s book Imagining Abundance
Here are 12 strategies I found helpful from reading Imagining Abundance. I’m confident these can help you too:
Everyone is called to be a giver. Central to Christianity is the conviction that one finds life by giving it first away. Therefore, remember that everyone, not just the wealthy, is called to be philanthropists. Meaning, don’t just look for major donors because that is not the Christian approach.
Be careful with your language. Eliciting generosity and responding generously deserve reverence, not disparagement. Come from a position of abundance, not scarcity.
Be aware of your values. We all have different approaches to money. Is it holy or sinful? Just recognizing the difference perspectives people have will help mitigate the ups and downs of fundraising.
Don’t separate fundraising from your mission. Do not exclude fundraising from the other parts of your mission because the divide will negatively impact everything you do. Recognize the value that fundraising brings, and even though challenging for many, you and your team must find a balance.
Don’t guilt trip people. Obligatory giving or giving out of guilt always signal a weak and unhelpful approach to fundraising. Avoid saying phrases like “we need … if not …”
Fear is the antithesis of faith. Yes, raising money can be scary, but don’t focus more on the fear than on the faith that raising funds will help you do even more with your mission.
Be confident and positive. Do not give in to the negativity from critics even when it comes from smart, capable people whom you admire. A cynic is one who has given up but not yet shut up. On your side, don’t give in or give up.
Avoid negativity. Limit contact with negative people whenever possible. Again, fundraising is difficult enough.
Remember that money matters. People (and likely yourself) have a strong connection to money, and this can be an invitation to sacred and meaningful conversations.
Don’t dilute the importance of giving. Philanthropy and fundraising can be profound expressions of what is most deeply meaningful in life. Therefore, don’t dilute the subject or avoid the depth of these matters. Dive deep, especially with major donors.
The starting point of great fundraising is gratitude. Be grateful for people’s financial donations but just as important, be thankful for their time, presence, intellectual expertise, experience, talent, wisdom, compassion, mercy, stamina, joy, encouragement, and faith.
Donors are subjects, not objects. Like you, they want to contribute to something meaningful and life-giving and fruitful. Acknowledge these and treat people with care.
Kerry ends the book with a positive reflection of what’s possible, which is much needed in the Church today. Too often we can think that there is no money, no donors, and no opportunities. The reality is we must imagine abundance it exists.
Kerry encourages us to think big, be positive, and never give up.
Discussion question: What about you? What do you find to be the best strategy for being a fundraising in the Catholic context?
[You can leave a comment below.]
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The book by Henri Nouwen, A Spirituality of Fundraising, is often considered a classic and a reading requirement for anyone looking to raise funds.
No more than 60 pages, Henri condenses great reflections and necessary skills to be successful in fundraising within the Catholic context. By success, I (and he) refer to strengthening your mission, inspiring people around you, and reaching your fundraising target.
When I began fundraising, I approached it from a technical and secular angle because everything that I read and heard was in these contexts. Henri’s book was one of the first sources that I discovered which showed how to connect faith and fundraising.
Henri Nouwen constantly references to Scripture and champions that fundraising isn’t just about raising money. He sees it in the bigger picture, recommending fundraisers see their work as a ministry.
From this faith-focused approach, Henri helps you move forward quicker by building your confidence, clarifying your focus, and reaffirming that your work is an important part of your Catholic cause.
12 Recommendations from Henri Nouwen
There are many great takeaways by Henri Nouwen. Here are my top 12.
Fundraising is precisely the opposite of begging. Rather, you should think, “I have a vision that is amazing and exciting. I am inviting people to invest in my mission through the resources that God has given them – their energy, prayers, and money, in this work that God has called us to do.”
Be confident and clear with your invitation. This is because you trust that your mission and vision are like trees planted by streams of water that yield their fruit.
Invest people’s money if it is a match. Take people’s money and invest it in your vision only if it is good for their spiritual journey and health.
Be confident. If you lack confidence and are weak in your invitation, you will disconnect fundraising from your mission, and this is a serious risk.
Have a healthy relationship with money. You will never be able to ask for money if you do not know how you relate to money. Have a solid, clear, and healthy relationship with money. Don’t fear it.
Minister to the wealthy. Don’t look to rich people just for money because many of them are lonely and need as much ministering as poor people. You must minister to the rich from your place of wealth – the spiritual wealth you have inherited as a member of the Body of Christ.
Speak with the Holy Spirit. Approach potential donors in the Spirit of Christ when asking for money. By doing so, you do so with an attitude of confident freedom.
Show the opportunity. Asking for a donation is about giving people an opportunity to put their resources at the disposal of the kingdom.
Offer a community. Give your donors, potential donors, and followers a community to join because it is one of the greatest gifts that you have to offer. Just as someone has money to give to you, you have friendship, prayer, peace, love, fidelity, and affection to offer them.
Have a convincing plan. Show potential donors a strategic plan that convinces them that their money will help increase the productivity and success of your work. (I write about how to do this in the article, How to Plan for Fundraising Success
Be patient and execute. With the right environment and patient care, seeds can yield a great harvest, “thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.” (Mark 4:20)
Discussion question: How do you think we can best link spirituality and fundraising?
[Please leave a comment below to share with me and other Catholic fundraisers.]
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What are the big lessons of the first 100 days of the year? I get to meet hundreds of Catholics each month who are doing incredible projects. Whether it’s starting a new charity or expanding one, Catholics are working hard in the vineyard to bring Christ to the world.
As a fundraiser dedicated to helping them achieve their goals, particularly the financial ones, I am privileged to learn what works best in getting people to donate.
I also get to see what doesn’t work. Not all the Catholics I meet have success when fundraising, unfortunately. They start out strong but then lose steam. Today, I want to talk about the three biggest lessons I have learned this year from the Catholics who are succeeding in fundraising.
The lessons I’ve learned in the first 100 Days of 2017 have been so valuable to me that I thought it would be cool to open up my notebook to you and shared these big lessons.
The Three Big Lessons of Fundraising in 2017
If you’d like to be a better fundraiser (or even if you’re just curious to learn what makes a success Catholic appeal or campaign), you will gain a lot from these insights.
Lesson 1: Be Disciplined
When fundraising for an exciting Catholic project, you can often think that the applause you get from friends, family members, and other Catholics will turn into financial support. These accolades rarely convert into donations. That’s why you must be disciplined in your fundraising.
To do so, I recommend you set a time in your diary each day to reach out to people, communicate your message, connect with them, and from time to time, ask. If you don’t lock time in your diary to do so, you will forget, and as a result, nothing will happen.
I have found that Catholics are most successful with fundraising when they simplify their approach. Meaning, they break down their fundraising into small, simple steps, and move forward one step at a time.
The steps are as followed. They learn how to fundraise correctly, allowing them to move forward not based on assumptions. Then, they start doing consistently, as I mentioned in lesson one. The third step is they learn to master fundraising. They never stay complacent with doing the same thing year after year. They always look to be better because they know this will make fundraising easier and more successful.
The third lesson comes from a religious sister who is responsible for the fundraising of a prominent Catholic school in the United States. (She also graduated from Harvard.)
You must get your donor data in order. Also, you should use a user-friendly donor management system, as soon as possible. Along with this, you must get your processes in order. This includes donor acknowledgments, grant calendars, and appeals. If you have reliable processes in place, things will go smoothly whether you have 100 or 100,000 donors to manage.
In the ten plus years that I’ve been working, I’ve experienced dramatic changes in how I work. I used to travel to an office, wasting an hour commuting each way. Now, I can do everything I want in a coffee shop in the middle of the Alps.
It’s a bit crazy because I think that I am cheating. I’m reaping the benefits because I can spend a lot more time focused on my mission: making an impact in the world with my Catholic faith. Plus, when I am done working, I can immediately do something I enjoy, rather than spend another hour in a car or public transportation commuting home.
My father drove one hour each morning, and then another hour in the evening to work. He did this for 30 plus years. I don’t anymore.
Nor should you.
The way we work is changing, and one of the biggest benefits of this shift is the costs of working are reducing significantly. This is great news for Catholic charities because you can dramatically reduce your fundraising costs. There is another benefit to the change: donors are more attracted to you when you can say, “Hey, we don’t spend a dime on fundraising!”
Here are five ways you can reduce your fundraising costs and attract more donors to your work.
Catholics love charities who maximize efficiency and reduce unnecessary expenditures. I have found that when you cut the costs and tell them how you are doing it, people donate more.
1. Paper – Go digital with your communications. More and more people are using the internet to do their day to day activities. This includes accessing content online to stay up to date with what’s going on with the world.
For your donors who pay online, you can ask them if they want to receive all their communications online. For those who pay via check and cash, you can ask if they’d be happy to do the shift.
2. Printing – You can cut huge costs by not printing as much. By sending your content digitally, it costs you the same amount (almost nothing) to send 100 copies as it does to 100,000. Remember the feeling of printing 1,000 flyers and then recognizing you go the date wrong. Well, with online content, you just have to refresh the page or send another email.
3. Postage and envelopes – Email and social media have introduced a low-cost revolution for sending messages to your followers, donors, prospects, and partners. Again, sending content costs almost nothing compared to the option of emailing your messages.
Here’s another massive upside to going digital. With the amount of time and money you are saving, you can focus more attention on posting handwritten, individualized thank you letters to certain people.
4. Staff – Most fundraising tasks can be automated by software.
Payments are processed through online gateways such as PayPal and Stripe. Designing and publishing newsletters are done with free and easy-to-use software such as Canva. Sending messages and updates to donors is done instantaneously with email services such as Aweber and Mailchimp. Relationship Management software like Salesforce (Charity Edition is free) and InfusionSoft manage all your interactions with donors and prospects.
These tools save you hours of work and more importantly, they help you build stronger relationships with people. You no longer have to treat everyone the same by sending costly and generic newsletters and donation forms in the post. A staff of 5 to 10 people can now be reduced to 1 person with a few software subscriptions.
5. Office space – You also don’t even need an office anymore. Just a laptop, internet connection, and mobile phone. You don’t have to have a room or hallway filled with filing cabinets of the donation forms, newsletters, and leaflets. All your information is safely stored and organized digitally for a fraction of the price.
Conclusion – Seize these opportunities today
Catholics are looking for charities that are reducing their fundraising costs. By doing just this, you will differentiate yourself from all the other charities and get a lot more attention. As a result, you will get more donations.
The digital age is a prime moment for anyone who wants to take the leap and learn. The rewards outweigh the learning curve by miles.
Question: How can you reduce your fundraising costs today? (leave your comment below)
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