I have been reading a fantastic book this summer entitled, ‘Who Really Cares,’ by Arthur C. Brooks. In fact, I not only recommend your reading it, I also advise ordering copies for each of your board members and colleagues.
The small handful of dollars you invest in ordering multiple copies this book to distribute among your mission’s decision-makers and development team could lead to rewarding your cause with thousands of extra dollars in donations. Here’s why.
The Catholic Church is hit with another scandal. There’s been a lot of discussion of how a scandal affects how people will donate. (Read this article in the National Catholic Register where I offer my two cents.) The question on many Catholics mind is, “Should I stop giving in light of this scandal?”
While scandals can drastically cut the levels of giving, it can also boost fundraising. In the face of evil, good always prevails. You can find many new donors because Catholics right now are looking for charities and missions which are 100% authentically Catholic.
To do this, you must differentiate yourself from the negative and make Catholics see you as someone they can trust. You can do so by focusing on the character as a fundraiser, development director, board member or whoever is leading the efforts to raise money. This means executing your next campaign or appeal as a Catholic rather than a fundraiser.
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 want you to accomplish everything that God wants you to do. Whether you are a religious, a priest, a layman, or discerning your vocation, whatever God is calling you to do (even if it seems impossible), I want to help you move forward.
What often happens when we walk in faith, we look to others for support. The assistance we want usually comes in the form of financial donations. Meaning, we have to start asking for donations.
As a result, fundraising adds another level of difficulty to the already challenging journey, wouldn’t you agree?
I want to offer you advice on one of the best ways to get people to assist you financially. Listen to me very carefully because I guarantee you will have significantly better results. You will also stress a whole lot less, isn’t that what we all want? We want to focus more on the mission and stress less about the resources.
The Best Advice for This Year – Follow-Up with People
My advice is to focus significant amounts of your attention on the follow-up.
A follow-up means taking the time to build a meaningful relationship with someone after you’ve asked them for support. You do so by keeping people informed of how you are making a difference, even if they’ve not yet agreed to give financially.
Why do I encourage you to follow-up with people?
Too often, when asking for donations, Catholics forget about keeping in touch with people. They instead ask for money, then get disappointed when the response is negative or non-existent. Then they forget about the person entirely. The relationship disappears even before it can be started.
This common way of fundraising is detrimental to you and your cause. Let me dig deeper and explain why.
I am blessed through my work at CatholicFundraiser.net to work with hundreds of Catholics who are seeking funds. Because of this oversight, I’m able to see the trends and mistakes that Catholics are making over and over again. One of the most significant missed opportunities I frequently see is this inability to follow-up with potential donors.
Two Case Studies – One Failure and One Success
Let me share with you two examples to explain why following up with people is so important and how it can transform your fundraising quicker than you can imagine.
Case Study #1 – This is What You Should Not Do
The first example comes from a Catholic family who is passionate about reviving the use of sacred music in the liturgy. While working with them, I discovered they had a fantastic line-up of potential donors. Seriously, some of the people they had met over the course of two months were unbelievable. These were well-known people in the Catholic Church and their community. They had shown interest in the family’s work; however, they weren’t responding to the family’s donation requests.
I recommended that the family keep in touch over the course of three months and try again.
The family, unfortunately, didn’t take my advice. They didn’t see the long-term benefits of building relationships. Instead of seeing each person as a future donor – either in three months, six months, or even next year – the family could only see them as people who would never donate. This is a false assumption.
As a result, the family forgot about these relationships and looked elsewhere. Three months later, they put her project on hold due to a lack of funding, confidence, and direction.
The second example comes from one of the largest Catholic organizations whose mission is to keep Catholics informed about the teachings of the Church. I worked with the development office to build a campaign that would immediately identify people interested in financially giving and focus 100% of our time on following up with each one individually.
We launched the campaign in just a few days because we kept our focus specific to identifying people, asking for their support, and then following up when necessary. Within a month, we had raised $100,000. We also had another $500,000 on the way because of our dedication to following up with people who showed tremendous interest in what the organization was doing but weren’t ready to commit immediately.
Let me reiterate. This campaign took only a few days to get started and reaped significant results for this mission.
How did we do it? All we did was write a few emails, edited a short phone script, and make phone calls. The costs were just time and effort. For information on the how to find donors, read this article: The Art of Finding Donors.
The 2 Lessons Why You Should Always Follow-Up
I want you to take away two key lessons today about the importance of following up with the people.
Lesson 1. God always provides. You must pay attention to who God places in your life. I constantly quote Saint Paul: I planted, Apollos watered, and God grew.
I’m a big believer that God always gives us the people and resources necessary for us to move forward. We just have to have our eyes and ears open, and then take action. Meaning, you must keep following up with the people God places in your life.
Lesson 2. Always maintain a log of the people whom you meet. Instead of continually looking for new people to ask for donations, take the time to review the people you’ve met each week. Take note of what they’ve said and consider the best approach to reconnect with them.
Not every person you met will immediately respond with a yes when you ask for a donation. However, don’t disregard the person in the long run. Make a note of the meeting and put a reminder on your calendar to check back at a later date.
Sometimes the best action you can do is to give them an update on what you are doing.
Remember that people donate because they are inspired by what you do rather than by what you say. Keep their attention and remind them of the difference you are making. Then, when the time is right, ask again. Keep repeating this.
Please don’t look at the short term. Be patient – it’s a gift of the Holy Spirit. Follow-up with people regularly and you’ll see that more and more people will support you.
You will succeed with fundraising when you do this: demonstrate for 52 weeks a year “how you are making a difference” rather than “how you will make a difference.”
Question: Who will you follow-up with this week? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
December, Advent, and Christmas are all times when most Catholic charities are preparing their year-end campaigns and appeals. As I talk about the most important month of the year for fundraisers, I get a lot of questions like these: “How do I make sure I’m ready to make the most of December? How do I not be too pushy?”
If you’re asking these questions, you’re already on the right track. Why? Because you’re talking about laying out a plan that will make sure you have an authentic Catholic voice when you do make the ask.
I like to answer these sorts of questions by finding out how well someone’s considered three essential aspects of Catholic fundraising. I use this same technique when evaluating my own December fundraising.
1. Am I Speaking With My Own Words?
For a campaign to be authentic, it has to use words that Catholics understand. That means that it has to resonate with Church teaching and our commitment to spreading the Gospel. If you are focusing your attention on the money aspect of a campaign, it’s probably not going to catch as many Catholics attention.
I recently reviewed the campaign documents of a prominent religious order which is looking to raise over $1m to purchase property and expand. The religious brother that I am working with decided that it would be best to focus not on the plans of the building but rather on the story of how they got to this point.
What’s instructive is why he did so. He hadn’t done much with fundraising before, he said, but he knew that if Catholics heard their story, rather than a request for money, they’d commit.
If you are preparing for your December appeal and putting the final touches, I recommend you double check that you are telling your story in your own words. Sharing facts and figures about what the money will be used for is important, though don’t forget to share how God has blessed you throughout the year.
We know from research that religious giving is the highest of all charitable giving. Catholics are included in this statistic and are ready to donate. They just want to hear an authentic story said in your own words.
FACT: December giving accounts for 29% of all giving throughout the year
2. Does Your Campaign Focus on the Right Audience?
For a year-end campaign goal to be meaningful you should focus on getting the attention of the right people. We know that just because someone is Catholic doesn’t necessarily mean they share the same passion for our causes. Therefore, it is important to focus on energy on getting in front of the right Catholics.
We do this for two important reasons. The first is because when we focus our attention, we can spend more time with Catholics who will give. This, therefore, increases the number of gifts we receive. The second reason is that we reduce our stress levels. This is important because when we are speaking to people, they are more inspired to give to someone who is calm, composed, and happy. Plus it is Advent, and stress is not a gift of the Holy Spirit.
We find the right Catholics by taking time to review our year and reflect on who God has placed in our lives. When we connect the dots, and we identify the people who have crossed our paths, then we’re closing on finding the audience to ask for donations.
You won’t know whom to ask until you commit the time and effort to plan. Set your intention and get started with reviewing the past 11 months and recognize which people God placed in your path.
3. Are You Getting Personal with Your Approach?
There’s a difference between an appeal letter and genuine request. We all have received those direct mail letters that follow the same formula. These letters are so professionally done that they lack a personal touch.
What about the monastery who decides to build a new wing because more people are visiting for a retreat or considering a vocation? What about the Catholic apostolate that is increasing its online presence and reaching more lapsed Catholics? These are exciting stories, would you agree? It does until you read their appeal letters and how they forgot to share the unique aspect of their work.
But how do find your personal style when asking for donations?
Sometimes it’s just intuition. In his Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary, Saint Louis de Montfort asks us to spend at least twelve days emptying ourselves of the spirit of the world. He reminds us that before we can take a step forward, it’s prudent to stop and reflect.
Saint Louis shows us how moving from one desire to another (even if it is to do God’s will) has to be done with prudence and preparation. This is especially true when it comes to asking for money.
[Tweet “Saint Louis de Montfort reminds us to pause before charging forward.”]
Fundraising is a challenge, and if not properly planned, it can just turn into discouragement. What I like to do is set a December campaign goal that is motivating (and a bit discouraging) and then take time to plan. I make sure that I’m getting as personal with my approach and that my story is correctly told.
How to Plan for a Successful December with Fundraising?
As we move into December and the Advent season, try to organize your campaign so it is authentic, personal, and resonates with the right Catholics. It’s important to remember what fundraising campaigns are for in the first place. They are about raising funds to keep your mission moving forward, yes. But it’s more than that. A campaign is not just about what you raise. It’s about what you are doing for the Kingdom of God.
Campaigns are about moving forward. A good campaign requires us to strengthen our mission and do more for Jesus. That’s because every campaign is about Our Blessed Lord as much as—even more than— our vocation. And that’s precisely why planning your December fundraising in Catholic way is so important.
Every fundraising campaign must about Jesus as much as our goal to get donations.