Monsignor Thomas McGread, a priest in the Diocese of Wichita, Kansas, is well known for his work across the United States in fundraising. He developed an approach called The Stewardship Model, which has helped parishes, dioceses, and national organizations (such as the United States Bishops Conference) raise millions of dollars. You could say he’s the #1 ranked priest in the United States when it comes to how to fundraise for the Catholic Church.
He’s been successful because he’s developed concepts and practices that make being good stewards a tangible reality. Thankfully for you and me, Deacon Donald R. McArdle, CEO of Catholic Stewardship Consultants, documented his approach in the book, Grateful and Giving. This book was written in conjunction with
This book showcases parishes, dioceses, and national organizations that have been changed through strong and faithful stewardship programs.
I’d like to highlight for you some of the key steps in his program that can serve your fundraising, whatever its level, too.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.