I want to walk you through a typical week for me so you can learn the Catholic habits of how to fundraise effectively. Yes, there are actions you can do that will make your fundraising more Catholic and more effective. Plus, by showing you what I do each week, you will learn two valuable lessons.
The first is that I do not chase money. I don’t run around, day after day, looking for who has large sums of cash to give. Nor am I constantly asking people for gifts. This also applies to the websites I design, the letters I write, and the emails I send.
I don’t bombard people with the omnipresent donate button, along with its partner in crime: the exclamation mark. “Please give!” I don’t fundraise like this because it is a secular and ineffective approach. It scares people away, and it is absolutely exhausting.
If you don’t believe me, I recommend you check your response rates and ask your readership what they think.
The second important lesson is that I am not only asking two times a year like most Catholic charities. I ask throughout the year. This may sound contradictory to my first lesson, but it’s not. Even though I’m not focused on asking for money every day, I’m constantly identifying when to ask someone or a group and what is the best approach.
I segment my campaigns to specific groups of people rather than use general campaigns which ask everyone all at once. I have a campaign specific to major donors because rather than wait months to ask them in a bi-annual campaign, I ask them at the best possible time.
Another group I like to segment is lapsed donors. Again, you don’t want to wait months to lump them into your yearly campaign.
Pitfalls to avoid in your day to day fundraising
With that said, each day of my week is designed to build relationships and ask specifics groups of people at the best time possible. As a result, you move your fundraising forward much quicker.
This proactive approach to fundraising is more effective – meaning you raise more funds – than waiting for your annual or semi-annual appeal to happen. It’s important to constantly be active because you will keep your momentum throughout the year. Then when your annual appeal does happen, you’ll be much more prepared to launch a successful campaign.
I also think this approach is much more Catholic because you are focusing on building relationships before asking for donations. The idea that someone will give just because they are Catholic is false. Statistics have shown that this approach doesn’t work. You also take advantage of people when you only see them as ‘another Catholic’.
The Catholic organizations that run general campaigns once or twice a year also put themselves at serious risk. For eight to ten months of the year, they aren’t meeting people, building relationships, spreading messages, identifying prospects, or asking for donations. Instead, when the bi-annual appeal is about to happen, they spend the majority of their time running around doing all of these at once. You are doing too much all at once.
Another downfall of this approach is you come across as intrusive and pushy. Catholics know when they are being sold something fast and quick, and most turn away when it happens.
What a fundraiser should do each week
What you want to do is have a weekly plan that keeps you moving forward. The plan that I will show you is a working template that you can modify depending on where you are with your fundraising. As a whole, this a fantastic framework to make sure you are not missing anything and executing on a consistent basis.
Your week should include the following ten actions. I’ve talked about these ten actions relentlessly on my website, videos, and resources. These are also the ten actions that I promoted in my first book, Alms. I recommend buying a copy of Alms because it goes in granular detail about each of these. You should also download the 10 Commandments to Catholic Fundraising e-book which also outlines these tasks.
When you execute these ten tasks for fifty-two weeks a year, you will move forward with your fundraising at a record pace.
- Pray – You have to take an active approach to your prayer life when fundraising because you can so easily get tunnel vision on money, forget about Jesus, your mission, and your community. Make prayer a habit.
- Thank people – You have to thank people more often than simply after they donate. Find reasons to send thank you messages and acknowledge that their involvement is continually helping you.
- Connect with people – Go out and meet people for the sake of meeting them. This is especially true when someone has organized an event in your field of work. And remember, the focus is not to find donors. The focus is to connect.
- Dream List – I’m a big believer that you have to intentionally seek out those people who will help you move forward. These are specialists in your field, people who can connect you with volunteers, major donors, and faithful supporters.
- 1-to-1 meetings – You have to book meetings and meet people. This includes major donors, faithful supporters, volunteers, influencers, and anyone else you think would benefit from hearing what your organization does.
- Build your community – You have to grow your contact list each week. This one action will dramatically impact on how much you can increase your funding levels year to year.
- Clean your database/contact list – Take time to make sure everyone’s name is correct along with their details. Avoid the horrible feeling of sending a person a message with their name misspelled.
- Distribute free content – Give, give, give. For every donation you want to receive, my recommendation is to find ways to give seven times more. This doesn’t mean you have to give money, but do give people resources and information that they will appreciate.
- Attend other people’s events – I’m sure there are other organizations out there that do things similar to yours. I suggest you connect with them and learn what they are doing. Learn also how you can help them succeed.
- Ask – You won’t raise any funds if you do not ask any for money. You have to intentionally ask people for donations each week.
Now that you know the ten fundamental actions, you must schedule a time to do each one every week.
How to organize your week as a fundraiser
Here is a suggested week plan that you can use. Again, you can modify it as you wish and move activities based on your availability.
Regardless if you have two minutes or two hours, I highly recommend you spend time doing each task. Don’t drop one simply because you can’t find the time. It’s important that you get into the habit of doing each task, improving week by week.
Dream List (4)
One-on-One meeting (5)
Distribute free content (8)
|Afternoon||Build community (6)||Connect with people (3)||Attend other events (9)||Ask (10)||Clean database (7)|
As I mentioned, you do not have to be confined to doing one task on a certain day. I suggest you make your schedule and find what works for you. What you will discover by doing this is your approach to fundraising is much more balanced. Meaning, you are not just focused on asking for money. You will be building better relationships along with more of them.
A fundraiser’s best resource: the Catechism
I continually stress the importance of using the Catechism’s section on prayer as a gauge for how balanced you are with your interactions. A Catholic fundraiser is always reflecting on how balanced and genuine his or her messages are. The catechism explains that there are four different kinds of prayer: petition, thanksgiving, adoration, and intercession.
You can think of prayer as our way of speaking with God, and if we spent our days only asking him for things (petitioning), we wouldn’t have as fulfilling a prayer life if we forgot the other forms of prayer. Therefore, you have to take the time to speak with God in the different ways.
The same goes with fundraising. If all you do is ask people for donations, you’d be unfulfilled because you will find your work repetitive and boring. So will your donors, prospects, and followers. People eventually get tired of you constantly asking them for money. “When is enough for them?” they’ll think.
Therefore, you have to mix it up so that your approach is more Catholic. When you do take this approach, you capture people’s attention more often, build closer relationships with them, and subsequently raise more funds.
Change of perspective
To help you get started, use this pray, pray, pray, ask approach to ground yourself.
Pray – Pause and reflect on your normal weekly fundraising activities. Write down what you do on a typical week.
Pray – Review my list of 10 actions and identify which ones you are doing and which ones you are doing. Reflect on how your approach may be perceived by others. Would they think you are focused most on asking for money, them, or the mission?
Pray – Open your Bible to Baruch chapter 3. This chapter reaffirms the law of Moses (10 commandments) as a unique gift of God to Israel, the observance of which is the way to life and peace. Remember that specific tasks, done consistently, can dramatically help keep you focused on what truly is important.
Ask – Complete your own timetable and organize the ten tasks in a way that is most convenient for you.