Tech Tools: Don’t be a Luddite

10 Free Technologies Every Catholic Charity Must Use

Make sure to get your free copy of ‘The 10 Commandment of Catholic Fundraising’. It’s a book that highlights the ten tasks you should do to keep you focused on your mission and hit your fundraising target, every time.

Brice Sokolowski Catholic Fundraiser

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.

Jesus’s 2 Lessons on How to Fundraise Successfully

Learning the basics of Catholic fundraising from Jesus Christ

Make sure to get your free copy of ‘The 10 Commandment of Catholic Fundraising’. It’s a book that highlights the ten tasks you should do to keep you focused on your mission and hit your fundraising target, every time.

Brice Sokolowski Catholic Fundraiser

We’ve probably all done this: We start a fundraising campaign by immediately looking for people to ask. We go full charge into hunting for donors without considering, ‘How well do they know me?” and ‘Why am I asking?’

What if we stop and consider a more Catholic approach? I use the term ‘Catholic approach’ because it’s not usually appropriate to ask anyone, especially strangers, for donations when they don’t even know who you are, wouldn’t you agree?

Take Jesus for example.

If we consider how Jesus started his ministry to proclaim the Kingdom of God, we learn two tips about fundraising. Yes, even Jesus collected funds, and he had a unique approach. [Matthew 23:23, Luke 8:1-3, Luke 10:7]

Before he dove into his mission, which included asking for donations, he did two important first steps that we should replicate. First, he paused to reflect on what he was going to do, and then he checked that his apostles were clear about what the mission was.

Before we run around asking for funds, we should do the same as Jesus. It’s important to start any campaign with first, checking that you’re clear with what you want to do and second, confirming those around you are clear about that, too.

1 – Start with a clarity of mission.

Before you run off and look for supporters and funding, pause for a moment and get clear with exactly what your mission aims to accomplish.

While you may think you’ve figured this out, you’d be surprised how unclear that might really be if you dig a bit deeper. Even Jesus took 40 days to prepare himself for his mission. He knew what awaited Him, but He also knew the importance of being spiritually, mentally, and physically prepared.

I recommend that you pause, just as Jesus did, and take at least 40 hours to review your mission and your path to that goal. You could even take this time to fast. Reconnect yourself with God to make sure you are fully prepared to move forward.

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2 – Make sure people know who you are.

You should never assume that people know what it is that you do. Even if it looks obvious, people will always have questions. Like Jesus, you want to make sure that those who work or volunteer for you are equipped to clearly share your mission with people during a fundraising campaign.

Remember that Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” [Mark 8:27]

By getting those around you on the same page, you’ll save time and effort later, especially during gift requests, because you and your team will know how to answer these questions. When people know exactly what you do, and you clearly answer their questions, you both soothe their misgivings and encourage them to be more eager to support your mission.

Taking ‘the Jesus approach’ to your fundraising.

We all want to rush fundraising and get straight to work in the vineyard, but fundraising starts with a clear understanding of what you do and how those around you communicate it to during a campaign. Even Jesus, the Son of God, took time to do these two important steps.

Consider taking the same approach as Jesus before you launch your next campaign. The result will be that you’ll have more confidence in both your work and your ability to communicate it to others.

Question: What’s the first step you usually take when fundraising? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Brice Sokolowski Catholic Fundraiser

Four Unconventional Lessons from Saint John about Fundraising

Four Lessons on How to Fundraise from St John the Almsgiver

Make sure to get your free copy of ‘The 10 Commandment of Catholic Fundraising’. It’s a book that highlights the ten tasks you should do to keep you focused on your mission and hit your fundraising target, every time.

Brice Sokolowski Catholic Fundraiser

How do you succeed in fundraising for your mission, cause, or vocation? You’ve likely asked this question countless times. As a fundraiser, my life’s mission is to get as much money as possible into the hands of Catholics just like you who are doing great work.

I get my best inspiration for running successful campaigns from the saints. When we think of saints, we often forget that they at times had to fundraise. I recently came across the story of St John the Almsgiver. My good friend Nathan, who runs the fantastic website the Almoner, referred me to this saint.

St John is an excellent example of a saint achieving great results by using money.

Born in the 6th century, he entered religious life after his wife and child died. He eventually was elected bishop during the Byzantine era and then gained prominence in the West. He was an original patron of the order of St. John of the Hospital, the Hospitallers, which still exists today as the Knights of Malta.

Saint John the Almsgiver wasn’t shy about accumulating wealth and using it to spread the faith. In fact, he was so good at it that it has become his hallmark. I find this fascinating because John reached sainthood all the while using money to help him.

Here are four lessons you can learn from Saint John about how to raise funds and use money to further your mission.

Lesson #1 – Have a positive and inspiring attitude

Saint John was known to be amiable to all: advising, encouraging, assisting, acting as peacemaker, reconciling enemies, and striving to act virtuous in every moment.

By his positive attitude, he opened many doors, particularly around circles of influence and prominence. John became well known and respected by the leaders of the Byzantine empire, private individuals, the emperors, and the nobles and governors. This helped him spread the Catholic faith and raise funds.

Lesson #2 – Set the example and give generously

John recognized that he had to inspire others by his own life in order for them to get involved in his causes, particularly the St John Hospitaliers. To do so, he donated considerable amounts of time and money to causes of the Church. He also gave advice to people through stories from his own life but also by the lives of the saints and Scripture.

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He would say about the martyrs of the Church,

‘If some men have given their own blood in the service of Christ, we ought to give of our possessions to the poor and needy, so that we may receive our recompense from the just rewarder, God.”

John was a strong believer in the phrase, “He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows in blessings will also reap abundantly.” John sowed every day of his life and — as a result — was able to surround himself with money.

Lesson #3 – Be both confident and patient

John understood that we can be impatient, especially when it comes to asking for support from others. He, however, balanced that urge with the confidence that God will always provide by opening doors.

He knew that he could always make requests to the Lord, but also avoided being impatient for his prayers to be granted, by being ready to grant other people’s requests.

Instead of being focused solely on his mission, he quickly fulfilled the requests of others, remembering the words of our Lord, “The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.” [Matthew 7:2] and those of the prophet: “As you have done, so will it be done to you.” [Obadiah 1.15]

His patience and confidence resulted in gathering large groups of people and wealth around him.

Lesson #4 – Double your fundraising through humility

This lesson comes from the true story of John, who lost all his wealth just as Job did. John had bold plans for spreading the faith, and thought he was doing a great job by raising funds and distributing them. God, however, took everything away.

Instead of scolding God and his circumstances, John learned that being wealthy often boosts our ego and makes us haughty, even if it is for the greater glory of God. When this unexpected downturn happened, John took the opportunity to humble himself as he patiently endured it.

Scripture teaches us that poverty humbles a man, and King David recognized this truth when he said, “It was good for me to be afflicted, in order to learn Your statutes.” [Psalm 119:71]

Though John lost his wealth and could no longer help others, he recognized that God was the same during troubled times as He was in good times, and as He was with Job.

Therefore, John stayed faithful to the Lord.

And after a short time, God doubled John’s possessions.

Raising funds like a saint

St John the Almsgiver teaches us that accumulating wealth for your mission starts with you, rather than with hunting for donors. The way John behaved with others and followed Christ is what earned him his name: the Almsgiver. People who witnessed his dedication to his work, to his prayer life, and to others were then moved to give him money.

You can learn more about St John the Almsgiver by reading his biography at this link.  His feast day is January 23rd.

Question: Question: What saint has inspired you the most in your fundraising? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Brice Sokolowski Catholic Fundraiser

The 3 Hacks to Successful Fundraising in the Catholic Church

How to Win Donors and Take Your Mission or Church to the Next Level

Make sure to get your free copy of ‘The 10 Commandment of Catholic Fundraising’. It’s a book that highlights the ten tasks you should do to keep you focused on your mission and hit your fundraising target, every time.

Brice Sokolowski Catholic Fundraiser

Every week, so many wonderful Catholics ask me, How can I get better at fundraising? One of the most important things that you can do to make this happen is to increase your level of commitment. Many of us focus on getting others to become more committed, but this isn’t where you should start.

Fundraising is about getting people so passionate about your cause that they want to support you financially. How to do this? You’ve got to increase people’s level of commitment — one step at a time — until they reach this desired goal.

The decision to financially support your church or cause and its efforts only happen after many other decisions have been made. Until you help people reach this level, you’ll stay where you are with your fundraising.

There’s a recurring perspective in the nonprofit world that you cannot give someone anything in exchange for a donation. This notion is false because you must give every person something. However, it should not be some tangible gift. Instead, you must give the person more in mission value than he or she gives in cash value. Meaning, donors see their money going into your cause as being of more value than staying in their hands (or wallet).

I’ve got good news. If you commit to increasing your mission’s value, then you will automatically take positive steps to increase your fundraising.

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Raising your commitment to your cause

It’s so easy for busy Catholics to rush through a campaign at warp speed. They push through the fundraising without stopping to figure out where they’re going, who they’re helping, or what all these funds will help do. As a result, people are unclear about what will be done with their donations and thus hesitate to give.

I helped one diocese raise $50 million; I’ve doubled another charity’s revenue for three consecutive years; and I helped a Catholic apostolate raise six figures’ worth of donations from just one email. All of this seemed impossible to me at first, but in looking back, I realize that my commitment to sharing the value of each mission was at the core of each success.

Here are three simple hacks you can increase your commitment which can then raise the value of your cause.

Hack #1. Improve your fundraising skills

We can’t talk about fundraising without knowing how to do it. Your skills can boost or crash your results faster than anything else. Like the virtues, you’ve got to learn how to perform them. The Catechism teaches us that you acquire the virtues by learning what they are and taking repeated actions to do them. You therefore must educate yourself about how to fundraise and how to fundraise well. This is done by spending time reading, watching, and listening to training material.

I recommend registering for one of my online courses that teach you how to fundraise. The courses include major donor fundraising, internet fundraising, campaign fundraising, and how to become a success development director.

Human virtues acquired by education, by deliberate acts and by a perseverance ever-renewed in repeated efforts are purified and elevated by divine grace. – CCC 1810

Hack #2. Get a fundraising coach

I’m a strong advocate for surrounding yourself with the right people. This definitely applies to fundraising. Some people choose to hire a fundraiser, but most of us don’t have the funds to do so. The best alternative is to hire a fundraising coach who will teach you how to do it for yourself. This option is both a tremendous benefit and investment for you because the best fundraising always happens from within an organization. Donors and prospects always want to hear directly from the leadership rather than a fundraiser.

Each week, I provide one-to-one coaching to Catholic organizations. Together, we plan, develop, and launch initiatives to raise funds. To start your coaching sessions, contact me today by clicking this link.

Hack #3. Work on it every day

When it comes to fundraising, you’ve got to show up every day. You can’t leave it to the last-minute or push it aside for months at a time.

As I said earlier, people donate because they are passionate about your cause and see their money as getting more constructively used in your hands than in their pockets. I’m not saying that you have to ask people for money every day, but you’ve got to be watching who God brings into your life and how to get them involved.

Whether that means sending thank you letters, personally calling donors, or simply sharing updates about your mission, you’ve got to work at inspiring people every day.

When you inspire people each day with what you are doing to realize your — and their — mission, you are planting the seeds of your fundraising.

To learn what to do each day to increase daily commitment, I recommend ordering a copy of my book, Alms, which outlines the essential tasks any Catholic should be taking.

Here are your next steps

As a fundraiser helping hundreds of Catholic causes, I have seen amazing things happen when we increase commitment to our missions. We have more confidence and clarity in our donation requests, we gain more people around us to ask, more donors continue supporting us, and we grow more and deeper faith that we are doing what God wants.

Question: How will you raise your commitment today to your Catholic cause? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Brice Sokolowski Catholic Fundraiser

Killing the Bible Softly with Your Appeals

4 Recommendations for How to Correctly Use Bible Verses in Fundraising

Make sure to get your free copy of ‘The 10 Commandment of Catholic Fundraising’. It’s a book that highlights the ten tasks you should do to keep you focused on your mission and hit your fundraising target, every time.

Brice Sokolowski Catholic Fundraiser

We’ve all read Bible verses in appeal letters and brochures, right? It’s one of the classic tactics of fundraisers to stick scripture into a request to reminds us how it’s our duty as Catholics to give. If you’re running an appeal or campaign, you likely want to do add a few verses into your material.

But what if I told you there is a right way — and a wrong way — to use the Bible in your fundraising?

I’ve got good news for Catholics who want to use Bible verses to inspire people to give: You can quote the Bible without looking cliche’. In fact, I do recommend quoting scripture in your appeals. However, there are rules that you must follow so you don’t sound like the typical fundraiser just pulling at our faith to get to our wallet.

Using the Bible in Your Fundraising

Let’s start by facing the fact that the common practice of using the Bible to get people to donate risks watering down the meaning of these beautiful verses. This is not something you want to happen with your Catholic cause.

Take the often-used classic verse from 2 Corinthians: “God loves a cheerful giver.” This verse gets right to the point that we should give because it’s what God wants us to do; plus when we do it, we should be happy about it! But, using this verse can pull potential donors in the opposite direction. They may get upset and, consequently, choose not to give.

The reason why quoting Bible verses may backfire is because fundraisers often use them as shortcuts with their appeal. By the time we do receive the appeal letter, we rarely know much of what the charity has been doing or how it’s made a difference. To know this, we’d have to hunt for the annual report, but who wants to do that? Instead, the fundraiser hopes that reminding you of your Catholic duty will trigger a donation.

This realization turned a key for me. I noticed that using Bible verses can improve a donation request only if we followed four rules.

1. Don’t Make It the One Thing

Yes, God likes a cheerful giver, but that doesn’t mean the giver should be giving to you. Therefore, don’t assume that the quote immediately connects the person reading your letter with your charity. Provide the reader specific reasons why they would be happy to give to you. You can do this by clearly outlining the results their donation will help achieve.

Read my article on how King David made the first planned gift to fund the construction of the Temple and learn how David anticipated the benefits of raising funds.

On the go? You can download the audio version of this article to your mobile device. Click the link below and start listening now.

2. Make It Unique

Catholic charities often use the same Bible verses when writing their appeal. In contrast, successful fundraisers know they must differentiate themselves from everyone else. Therefore, when they pick a verse, they choose one that relates to their mission and makes them stand out from the crowd. The most important question to ask yourself is this—is this verse quote most applicable to me?

I suggest using resources such as Cruden’s Complete Concordance to the Holy Bible to help you find new Bible quotes.

Note: if someone knows of a Catholic alternative, please let me know in the comments section below.

3. Ask Around

Starving charities wait the last minute to run an appeal. Successful charities are willing to plan ahead and make sure they’re sharing their story correctly. They often solicit feedback by asking your volunteers and donors what Bible verses and parables you should use. It’s a good path to both learning how people see you and fundraising more effectively.

4. Think Enough About Money

You must understand that too much focus on the Bible verse can make us overlook everything else about fundraising, especially for those of us who want to focus solely on the faith aspect of our work. I recommend you ought to think enough about the money aspect of your appeal so that you can continue to do what you love without worrying too much. Always remember that the faith-driven person raises funds to help more people, so don’t shy away from this fact.

Read my book review of Henri Nouwen’s classic, ‘A Spirituality of Fundraising’ for more insight on how to balance money and faith.

Question: What is your favorite Bible verse to use when asking for donations? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Brice Sokolowski Catholic Fundraiser

St Ignatius of Loyola’s Secret Formula for Raising Millions

The 5 Rules for How Saint Ignatius Built the Jesuits from the Ground Up

Make sure to get your free copy of ‘The 10 Commandment of Catholic Fundraising’. It’s a book that highlights the ten tasks you should do to keep you focused on your mission and hit your fundraising target, every time.

Brice Sokolowski Catholic Fundraiser

You have to wonder what it takes to start a religious order from the ground up. You’ve got to be equipped with a lot of spiritual, mental, and physical resilience to handle all the ups and downs. It has to be quite similar to the path an entrepreneur takes. The definition of an entrepreneur is someone who “assumes the risks of a business or enterprise.” How fitting is that for the description of a founder of any new Catholic cause?

Over a year ago, a friend sent me a copy of a fascinating biography on Saint Ignatius of Loyola. It was entitled, Studies in the Spirituality of Jesuits. (Unfortunately, this book is out of print.) What struck me was that it took a different angle than most books about a saint. There was a chapter in the book named, Saint Ignatius as Fund-Raiser. The author of this chapter, Fr Thomas Clancy, researched the activities that Saint Ignatius took in the last 10 years of his life to build a sustainable foundation for the Society of Jesus.

As a fundraiser, this caught my attention immediately. There’s no magic solution that’s going to raise the money you need or guarantee your Catholic cause’s success. When you set out to build a new project or cause, you do so with the knowledge that many who have gone before you have failed.

That said, this biography of how Saint Ignatius was successful taught me that he focused on five rules which you too can cultivate that will significantly increase your chance of success in fundraising.

Setting yourself up for success

Saint Ignatius of Loyola first put himself in a position to succeed by surrounding himself with the right people and environment. He was a man on a mission during the final 10 years of his life. Between 1547 to 1557, he was laying the foundation for what would sustain Jesuits for many centuries ahead. He was tied to his desk as the order continued to increase in size, and therefore it required more funds to support all its schools, missions, and men.

Saint Ignatius surrounded himself with a copywriter, secretary, and a register to help him press on. During these years, the number of correspondences he wrote increased dramatically. Nearly 96% (or over 6,000) of the letters and correspondence that Ignatius sent in his life were written during this time and concerned money and finance.

By reviewing what he wrote, we can uncover the Five Essential Rules that Saint Ignatius followed to be successful in building the Society of Jesus from the ground up.

What did he write and how did he write asking for money?

Rule #1 – Believe in the value of your work

St Ignatius first teaches us that we have to be convinced of the value of our missions. If we cannot communicate to people our commitment and enthusiasm for our work, then the work will die.

For Ignatius, he saw education as the best hope for the Church and the world. He viewed colleges as better means to teach the faith than preaching. He also saw colleges not only producing educated men and women but also committed Christians. Ignatius’s commitment to education was serious and not made lightly. In fact, he was so committed to building schools that he compromised his vow to poverty when he recognized that schools could not be sustained only by alms, but also by fixed incomes.

“Two things are necessary to spread the Kingdom of God: money and a contempt for money.” – Cardinal William Allen, 16th century English Cardinal

Rule #2 – Let your light shine

You must be in the news, send letters, and publish books as often as you can. Ignatius knew that the business of fundraising was not simply asking people for money. To get people to donate, he realized that he first had to get people’s attention.

The primary publicity was the good works of the Jesuits, but Saint Ignatius knew that people had to hear about them. Ignatius was a tremendous fan of putting things in print and distributing it. He viewed letters as one of the chief means to spread the news about the Jesuits, and he required his fellow Jesuits to continuously write letters to people outlining their work and how it was making a difference.

He wanted to keep the Jesuits in the public eye. This helped get potential donors interested in founding a college. He also saw this publicity as a great way to increase vocations.

We live in an age of communication. As Catholics with big dreams, we have to master the technologies that help us spread our messages and attract the attention of people. We have to tell the world about the work we are doing and get people involved.

Rule #3 – Know your clients and be patient

Saint Ignatius was adamant about the vanities of life. After his conversion, he believed in the uselessness of amassing riches. Ignatius however realized as he grew older that if he wanted to build his colleges, he had to rely on those around him, especially those with money. Heavenly success, especially with the big dreams he had, depended on human favor.

He began to see good qualities in being wealthy and the importance of helping those with wealth to use their money for good. He therefore established his credibility and authority with them, thereby allowing him to raise funds for himself and help others change their lives.

Saint Ignatius insisted that we had to do favors for our actual and potential benefactors in order to get them involved in our work. We can too easily denounce the rich and powerful. In an ideal world our fundraising would be more democratic. A drive for 10 million dollars would be met by a million people giving ten dollars each. But that almost never happens. We have to live and serve God in the real world, and in that world we cannot do without big donors.

At the same time, we cannot forget those who can give smaller gifts, especially in our modern age, which allows an even a wider pool of donors. We live in an opportune time of the internet to amass support from large numbers of people.

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Rule #4 – Manage your assets carefully

Ignatius was thoroughly impressed with the work ethic of merchants. While deploring their goals of increasing wealth, Ignatius tells fellow Jesuits:

“Do not ever permit the children of this world to show greater care and solicitude for the things of time than you show for those of eternity. It should bring blush to your cheek to see them run to death more unhesitatingly than you to life.”

Ignatius sought to emulate the energy and enterprise of merchants rather than over indulge in long prayers and senseless mortifications. Early Jesuits sometimes referred to each other as merchants. Zealous Jesuits were even called good merchants. Back then Jesuits had to be merchants and bankers, and knowledgeable about money and negotiations in order to run schools; their endowments were often tied to land requiring management on their behalf.

For Ignatius, founding a school or any Catholic agency for that matter required three foundations; the spreading of the faith, the purification of the Church on earth, and an increase of earthly resources to better serve the first two. As a consequence, Ignatius recommends that you must render an account of your stewardship and manage them carefully. You can do this through your annual report, updates to donors, and the study of best practices.

To help you, make sure to subscribe to my website and get your free copy of The 10 Commandments to Catholic Fundraising.

Brice Sokolowski Catholic Fundraiser

Rule #5 – Honor your friends and show gratitude

One of the reasons that Ignatius was a successful fundraiser was that he showed sincere gratitude to all whose donations enabled the Jesuits to do what they were founded to do: help souls. Chapter 4 of the Constitutions, which dealt with the colleges of the Society, is devoted to the obligation Jesuits have to pray for benefactors and the ceremonies by which they are to honor them and their descendants.

Similarly, you must help your donors: meet them in their hospitals, and attend their funerals and weddings. Ignatius learned that his supporters found it much easier to connect with him and the Jesuits when he took time to be part of their lives.

Taking steps forward with your fundraising

For your Catholic cause to succeed, whether you are starting out or looking to grow, your assumptions about fundraising and growth must be accurate. That’s why you should take to heart Saint Ignatius of Loyola’s Five Rules and find ways to integrate them into your interactions with donors and potential donors.

The ability to fundraise effectively is one of the surest indicators of whether or not a Catholic will create a lasting order, school, parish or apostolate, regardless of the mission or vocation.

Regrettably, fundraising is also one of the most likely skills to be overlooked as one you should learn in the Catholic Church.

But the truth is, anyone can learn how to do it — with the right approach.

Use these rules to your advantage, and remember how St Ignatius placed them at the heart of his fundraising. With the right focus, you will dramatically increase your fundraising ability.

Question: What rules do you follow when fundraising? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Brice Sokolowski Catholic Fundraiser

How to Fundraise with Facebook

My 4 lessons on how I raised thousands with just a few hundred followers

Make sure to get your free copy of ‘The 10 Commandment of Catholic Fundraising’. It’s a book that highlights the ten tasks you should do to keep you focused on your mission and hit your fundraising target, every time.

Brice Sokolowski Catholic Fundraiser

My goal with this article is to convince you that there is a right and a wrong way to fundraise on Facebook. Will you believe me? Probably not, but let’s try anyway.

You probably use Facebook every day like everybody else. Therefore, it’s a no-brainer to use it in your next campaign, right? This article is to share with you what I’ve learned about how to actually raise money using Facebook.

I do want to warn you. I’m not writing as an authoritative expert on this subject. I’m writing based on what’s worked for me, and what’s worked for the Catholic causes that I’ve helped. I’m still learning how to use this massive social media platform because it is so influential. With so many Catholics using it every day, you’ve got to consider it a part of your fundraising.

Lesson 1: Numbers don’t matter as much as you think

You might think that you need thousands of followers for a campaign to be successful. I’ve found you can raise thousands of dollars with just a few hundred followers.

As I write this article, I have 264 followers on my Facebook page, fb.com/catholicfundraiser. Not a lot, right? Yet I’ve been super successful with using this platform in my fundraising.

How?

Well, numbers don’t matter as much as you think. I’ve been slowly increasing my followers over the past year, and I’ve learned that numbers don’t matter. It’s quality of content and engagement that are key. I know Catholic organizations that have thousands of likes and followers, yet they struggle to bring in a few thousand dollars?

Why is that? It’s because they don’t know how to use the followers that they do have already.

His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.’ – Matthew 25:23

I am reminded of the Parable of the Talents: You take care of the small amount God has given you and He’ll bless you with more. This has been the case for me. As a small apostolate, I’ve been learning what works to attract people. I haven’t spent a single dollar to buy Likes, yet I’ve grown my followers between 0.5% and 2% each week.

Though the cards look to be stacked against me because of my small audience and small growth, I do it week by week. It’s consistent growth that’s making the difference over the long run.

Think of the story of the turtle and the hare. We know who wins in the end.

Sure, this might not sink in with you now but watch this blog and see where I am in a year. I know that I’ll hit the cherished 1,000 mark and when I do, I’ll be on my way to 10,000 because I’ve learned what it means to “grow” my followers.

Plus, if I can have the fundraising success I’ve had with 264 followers, I can only imagine what I’ll be able to do with 10,000. So watch this space.

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Lesson #2 – Quit whining that Facebook doesn’t “Like” you

Join the club of wanting more people to Like and click your posts. The reality is that everyone is engaged in the same uphill battle trying to get attention. You’ve got to remember that your organic reach will only be 3-5% of your audience and this my friend is the case for everyone. The Facebook algorithm works like this for everyone, and, just to appease the conspiracy theorists, let’s assume there is favoritism, but by how much? If the average reach is around 5%, even if some pages get double the preference, only 10% of their audience sees those posts.

The fact is everyone’s newsfeed is flooded daily with posts and ads. On average, people Like and Follow 300 pages on Facebook. With so many posts passing through a newsfeed, you really are competing with 300+ pages to get a person’s attention. This might be the reason why it’s such a struggle to be seen and why Facebook has to lower everyone’s reach.

Therefore, my advice is to quit complaining how you aren’t getting a fair voice on the platform.

My recommendation is to create micro-content worth the time and energy it will take to reach donors, followers, and advocates. You cannot take for granted that you have the ability to reach 100’s, if not 1,000’s of people, while sitting in front of your computer.

Just think: If 1,000 people see your post for just 5 seconds, that means your post was seen for 5,000 seconds. That’s 83 minutes. So my advice is to take a few extra minutes to create content that maximizes your time.

Lesson #3 – Be consistent with the quality of your Facebook content

Looking back, I am shocked at how long it took me to figure this out. Though what shocks me more is how I still struggle to create quality content.

Creating quality content on Facebook is something everyone has to learn, and the only way to learn is to do it over and over again. Also, you have to agree that, because thousands of people can see your content, it’s worth the time and effort to make something that stands out, right? Practice making great micro-content every day and see where it takes you.

You have to get in that habit, and that habit may take a few months. But to get there, you need the right system in place to automate your thinking and piece your content together.

I’ve learned that there are five levels of making great Facebook micro-content. Master one level at a time and watch your audience and reach grow with it.

Level 1 – Ask yourself two questions before posting: (1) How can we make this interesting to read? (2) What’s the one thing we want to share?
Level 2 – Include a photo or video. Make sure you format it so it is striking, high-quality, and attention-getting. Use Canva.com to help create pictures that stand out. And make sure your logo is visible.
Level 3 – Add text. Make sure your copy is short, simple, direct, provocative, entertaining, and surprising. Don’t burden your content with too much text, keep it to under two lines.
Level 4 – Always include a clear call to action. I’ll go into further detail about this in the next section but every post doesn’t have to ask for a donation. You can ask for other things and always include a link.

Here are a few examples:

Read the full article here:
Apply here:
RSVP here:
Take action here:

Level 5 – Manage your comments. This is where the real magic in Facebook lies and in your fundraising. Make sure you respond to comments and control Spam. I’ll get into why in the next section.

Here’s an example of a religious order that is taking the patient route and mastering all levels. These religious sisters did more for their religious cause by sharing this story than by asking for donations. Thousands of people saw their photos, and it automatically got their attention.

Lesson #4 – How to actually raise money on Facebook

Successful fundraising will come after you master all the levels. I say this because there are two important characteristics you need to develop in people before you can ask them for money. The first is their attention, and the second is their engagement. This means that if you can get them to interact with you, you are on your way to getting them to trust you.

Trust comes when you build a relationship. This might sound cheesy, and you might want to just go the crowdfunding route or just post content asking for donations, but you will turn people off in droves. It’s much harder to gain someone’s trust after you’ve annoyed them. So my recommendation is, take the patient approach.

Patience is a virtue, so use it to your advantage in fundraising.

Now you have to continue building that relationship, and with that comes the final part: the ask.

My best advice for getting people to donate through Facebook is to find a way to collect their email. Facebook is a great way to attract people’s interest, while email is a personalized approach that offers much more privacy when it comes to asking. Here is a great example of one religious order doing exactly that.

For more details on how to fundraise using email, I recommend you join the waiting list for my Catholic Fundraising Boot Camp, where I will walk you through the steps of how to run a campaign from beginning to end using social media, email, phone, events, meetings, and letters.

Again, I wrote this article to document my current experience and success. Check back in 6 months when I share with you how far I’ve gone.

Question: What has been your experience with fundraising using Facebook? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Brice Sokolowski Catholic Fundraiser

New Book on Catholic Fundraising: Pray, Pray, Pray, Ask

Which cover do you think is best?

Make sure to get your free copy of ‘The 10 Commandment of Catholic Fundraising’. It’s a book that highlights the ten tasks you should do to keep you focused on your mission and hit your fundraising target, every time.

Brice Sokolowski Catholic Fundraiser

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:

  1. How to correctly asking for donations in the light of our Catholic faith
  2. What to do when things get tough and how to turn it around
  3. Why Catholics give and the underlying reasons they’d give to you
  4. 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:

  1. Which border?
  2. Which fonts?
  3. Which background (plain or old-paper)?
  4. 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.

Brice Sokolowski Catholic Fundraiser

How to Correctly Run a Lent Appeal

The 7 Steps to Prepare for a Successful Lent Appeal

Make sure to get your free copy of ‘The 10 Commandment of Catholic Fundraising’. It’s a book that highlights the ten tasks you should do to keep you focused on your mission and hit your fundraising target, every time.

Brice Sokolowski Catholic Fundraiser

Right now, you’re as good as your campaigns and no better. But your campaigns might not be very good because you haven’t taken a good approach to preparation. The thing is, it is almost impossible to have a good campaign, especially during Lent, unless someone gives you a good framework.

My job with the website is to give you a Catholic framework for fundraising. I also want to give it to you with such enthusiasm that you’ll take the necessary preparation to develop your own campaign, especially this Lent.

Let’s do that right now, sound good?

Let’s get down to the basics

At anything you choose to do, you’ll be as good as the preparation and practice you went through before actually doing it. The toughest thing I have to do with new fundraisers is to convince them that if they wait until they’re in front of a donor to learn what to do, it’s too late.

Fundraisers often like to wing it. That is to say, average fundraisers like to wing it. Catholics who are serious about their mission like to get fundraising right the first time because they can then get back to what matters most; saving lives and souls. So they don’t wing it – they prepare.

One of the reasons many new fundraisers think they can wing it has to do with the faulty image they have of the fundraising process. They think of fundraising as a slow-paced affair where there’s plenty of time for telling jokes, chatting about church news and the weather, and then winging their way through any unexpected challenges.

“Get your fundraising basics right this Lent.”

What these new fundraisers don’t realize is that, even with such a leisure approach, the grueling demands of mission work and pursuing a vocation goes very, very fast. Your mission goes on, regardless of what you raise, and sometimes this causes even bigger issues. You become overwhelmed by the lack of funds and the constant demands to help others.

Preparation develops you to respond quickly to the demands of your mission and vocation. When you can adapt more quickly, you can get on to doing what you want to do. This happens because you have time to choose your best response and approach and to deliver it smoothly.

This Lent, I recommend you take the time to prepare your campaign instead of winging it. Here are the seven steps for planning a Lenten campaign.

The 7 Steps to Preparing a Successful Campaign

Step 1 – Define Your Mission Identity and Key Messages
Step 2 – Establish Administrative Details and Confirm Contact Lists
Step 3 – Map Your Online Presence and Case for Support
Step 4 – Get People’s Attention
Step 5 – Build People’s Trust
Step 6 – Ask for Their Support
Step 7 – Follow Up and Close the Campaign

If you’ve never seen this approach, you don’t realize that all successful campaigns follow the pattern shown above. The approach is simple and straightforward, but its application is demanding and specialized for every Catholic agency. More so, it’s in a constant state of evolution. You don’t just learn these steps once, memorize the process, and then turn your mind off the subject forever.

Fundraising, especially in the Catholic context, requires constant alertness for refining your approach and for better steps. Your goal with fundraising is to align it with your mission, thereby inspiring those around you to support you while also understanding the importance of your work. This balancing act requires an unwavering commitment to preparing for your next campaign.

Join the Lent Fundraising Boot Camp

To go into further detail about these steps, each year I open the Lent Campaign Boot Camp which provides you with a timeline, plan, templates, and examples.

When you turn pro (which means that you decide to stop playing around with fundraising and take it seriously), you come up with an effective approach to your campaigns that fits perfectly with your Catholic cause.

Work this approach thoroughly and sign up for the Boot Camp waiting list by clicking here.  I recommend you get on board and take your fundraising to the next level. Your mission and the people you serve deserve it.

Question: What step will you take this year to improve your campaigns? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Make sure to get your free copy of ‘The 10 Commandment of Catholic Fundraising’. It’s a book that highlights the ten tasks you should do to keep you focused on your mission and hit your fundraising target, every time.

Brice Sokolowski Catholic Fundraiser

 

 

Why Legacies are Brilliant for Charities and How to Get Them

7 Insights from a leading Catholic legacy fundraiser

Make sure to get your free copy of ‘The 10 Commandment of Catholic Fundraising’. It’s a book that highlights the ten tasks you should do to keep you focused on your mission and hit your fundraising target, every time.

Brice Sokolowski Catholic Fundraiser

Why is it so hard to ask for legacies when you know people are considering what to put in their will? Will-writing is when you would think it would be the easiest to ask, don’t you agree?

You would think people would have productive conversations with fundraisers without wasting time on explaining the importance of giving. Everyone is already in agreement that giving is essential. We just have to find the right cause, the right organization, and the right solution to the donor’s desire.

Currently, the number of people over the age of 65 is 600 million. That number will balloon to 1.5 billion by 2050. With numbers like these, you would think fundraisers were excited about the possibilities.

However, the opposite is true, everyone – including fundraisers – are scared about breaching this topic.

Why Legacies are Brilliant for Charities and How to Get Them

Richard Radcliff explains how to overcome these obstacles in his book, Why Legacies are Brilliant for Charities and How to Get Them. A Catholic himself and long-time legacy fundraiser, Radcliff outlines step by step how you can make the most of legacies, which he advocates offer considerable opportunities to any Catholic charity willing to take the time and energy to follow his advice.

I recommend reading his book which you can order today by clicking this link.

He begins by pointing out an interesting – but often forgotten – underlying fact about these donors over the age of 65. They are becoming less spontaneous with their giving as they have to support children and grandchildren. They may have money in their retirement account, but they are much more prudent about where it goes. This means that they are giving to fewer charities and focused on a more personal experience. Even more, they are considering how well they spend their nest egg.

The solution for any Catholic cause would then be to offer these savvy donors a solution that costs them nothing now but meets their requirements of making the most of their money. How does one do so?

Richard offers a step by step solution in his book. Today, I will outline the 7 steps I think will help you get people to leave your charity in their will, either through a cash sum or percentage of their estate.

7 Steps to Getting Legacies

Step 1 – Have a legacy vision that stands out. Richard explains that a bland line such as, “Please remember us through a gift in your will,” just doesn’t cut it. He recommends writing a sentence that is unique to your mission, inspirational, and memorable.

If you are enrolled in my Fundraising Boot Camp, I provide a complete overview of how you can do this. Click here for more info.

Step 2 – Consider planting seeds rather than going for a direct ask. Richard explains that legacy fundraising is different than normal fundraising. In his research of asking over 26,000 people in focus groups. An indirect ask is better received than a direct. Everyone is happy to know about the need and benefits of legacies to your charity, therefore share them without being ashamed.

For more details on how to ask, check out my article, What to Say and Not Say When Asking for Donations.

Step 3 – Have your legacy communications be less formal and more focused on telling the story of how your Catholic cause has benefited people. Richard recommends having someone who’s benefited from your charity tell their story. This could even be a person who has already put your charity in their will and shares why they’ve done so. Also, keep your messaging is upbeat, positive, and inspirational.

Go more in depth on this topic by reading my article, Why Story Telling Dramatically Improves Your Fundraising.

Step 4 – Promote your legacy material year round, ideally through stories that focus on your legacy vision as it is short, inspiring, and memorable. Some recommended times to promote your legacy giving include anniversaries of your charity, reminders of how legacies have benefited your charity, seasonal messages, and after significant accomplishments.

I give you a simple format for sharing your messaging year round in this article: Stop Screaming ‘Please Donate’

Step 5 – Consider structuring your legacy campaign as such:

– A summary of the charitable outcomes and finances (use infographics)
– A one-page that describes ‘look at what we’ve done together’ (this messaging is critical)
– The legacy vision which shows that there is still more to be done
– Provide a way to take action (your contact information along with words to include in their Will)

Check out this article, 3-Steps to Your Best Campaign Ever, for more details on how to structure your campaign.

Step 6 – Segment your audience and focus your communication to those who are committed donors, lapsed donors, eventers (those who keep showing up), and major donors. Richard highlights the important fact that statistically, a direct mail legacy campaign generates around a .5% response rate (please note: that’s half a percent). Richard strongly recommends you do not attempt to run a direct mail campaign because you will drive people away.

For more information on how to segment your audience and deliver a great legacy campaign, contact me directly by clicking here. Let’s get you moving forward today.

Step 7 – Listen. One of Richard’s strongest recommendations is to listen to donors. Listening can often be the best thing you can ever do, and they are far happier than they were before when you are asking for money. However, always be ready with your legacy material at hand and available. Again, it’s the indirect ask that works best. Provide them the information to take action, and leave the rest to them.

Moving Forward with Getting Legacies

I’ve offered a brief outline of Richard’s book, Why Legacies are Brilliant for Charities and How to Get Them. I strongly recommend ordering the book, as he goes into greater detail on each of these topics. He also explains how to use your website and social media to maximize your campaign results.

I leave you with one final thought. When running a legacy campaign, it’s best to offer people the tools to take action and get them to inquire about the possibility. Integrate your legacy messaging into thank you letters and emails, and make sure to ask softly.

Question: What recommendation do you have for asking Catholics to leave you in their will? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Make sure to get your free copy of ‘The 10 Commandment of Catholic Fundraising’. It’s a book that highlights the ten tasks you should do to keep you focused on your mission and hit your fundraising target, every time.

Brice Sokolowski Catholic Fundraiser