The following topic on getting every parishioner involved in your appeal for beginners is a continuation of the Almoner’s blog, a series of fictional letters written by a parishioner to his parish priest about fundraising. You can read all previous letters of the Almoner: http://catholicfundraiser.net/category/almoner-blog/
Dear Fr. Jacob,
Fantastic news! Who knew that you would be able to raise $29,000 in such a short time? Having the right story and the right approach makes all the difference, doesn’t it? I’ve been at the parish for nearly a decade, and we have never had a fundraising drive like this. Stop and think about the size of the bake sale needed to raise $29,000.
Inconceivable! It would be physically impossible for our parish to bake 58,000 brownies in two weeks. We don’t have enough ovens!
I think you can go ahead and pull the trigger on replacing the furnace right away with what we’ve already collected and close any gap with the emergency reserve. Though, I think that if you do two more weeks of lunch meetings for major gifts and mention how close we are to the goal at the next several Masses, you’ll raise the rest without any problems. You have momentum on your side.
People jump on moving trains
You have blown everyone’s expectations out of the water. If you had asked them a month ago if it were possible to raise $43,000, the parishioners probably would have laughed you out of the parish. Respectfully, of course, because they love you. (But they would have thought you were crazy.)
Now the game has changed. I expect several more sizable donations to come by Sunday, and you’ll be able to tell everyone that you broke the $30,000 mark in under three weeks. This momentum will get even more people excited and encourage them to give more gifts, particularly at the lower levels. They will want to be a part of making this exciting moment happen.
People like to be a part of something successful. Even parishioners who are typically reluctant to get involved, when they see that the train is moving, they want to jump on and be a part of it. Who wants to miss out of doing that big event that everybody got involved with? Nobody.
Get ready to celebrate
This could be a watershed moment for the parish. I think, no matter what happens, next week you should announce that we are having a potluck or picnic to celebrate. We should organize an event that will thank everyone who may have just given the biggest gifts EVER to the Church.
Why? One thing that jumps out to donors is showing the right amount of attention to say, ‘thank you.’ Here’s an easy way you can do this. Ask Steve if the Knights of Columbus will sponsor coffee and donuts after the 10 AM Mass in two weeks for a “Thank You” celebration. You can have the parish pay for it and get the Knights to the legwork. We have got to celebrate. You have to make a big deal about this.
This major ‘crisis’ might just become a turning point for this parish. You are changing the way the parishioners think about St. Catherine’s. The difference between being the kind of parish that raises $400 from a bake sale and the one that can raise $40,000 in less than a month is incredible.
The way they perceive themselves, you, this Church, the mission of the Church, can be totally transformed by this event. Rather than everyone thinking we’re just a ‘sleepy little Catholic Church in the Bible Belt,’ we can think of ourselves as ‘that resourceful little Catholic Church that can do something big if we put our minds to it.’
All things work together for good for those who love God and called according to His purposes
And here’s the big lesson. God is in charge. Fundraising might have been one of your least favorite things that you’ve had to do as a priest. I understand. Major gifts can give even seasoned fundraisers a case of the sweats. But God has given you an opportunity to step out of your comfort zone, and you did it. Even more, it paid off. I think it’s just great.
The next step after the “thank you” donuts is to figure out what to do with this new momentum. I’ll give it some thought and prayer.
P.S. I know it’s cheesy, but the old classic ‘Fundraising thermometer’ might work to help take this over the top. It’s a good visual for people who haven’t yet given to see how their gift can make a difference. Since we’re already 3/4 of the way to the top, I think it will be an encouragement to receive those last few gifts.
Plus, use blue ink. We are raising money for a furnace, and it will point out the fact that it’s COLD in there. Write the headline, “Turn on the Heat!” above the thermometer. It’s just too perfect.
Nathan Krupa lives in Augusta, Georgia with his wife Mary and two sons. Nathan writes about fundraising at https://thealmoner.com. He has raised money by writing grants for Golden Harvest Food Bank (www.goldenharvest.org) for five years, and is a member of the Parish Council at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. He is also a member of the Alleluia Community, an ecumenical covenant community.
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