Going Pro with Your Fundraising

The Saint Paul approach to raising funds

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

Let’s get serious because you wouldn’t be reading this if you were not looking for better ways to improve your fundraising. I want you to be successful and accomplish all you want with your mission. To do just that, I want you to take your fundraising to the professional level.

But before we talk about professionalism, I want to put this word into context with our Catholic faith. When we often talk about professionalizing anything in the Catholic Church, we can quickly think of suits, flow charts, graphs, colorful brochures, policies, and procedures. That’s not what I am talking about here.

When I say go ‘pro’ with your Catholic fundraising, I mean keeping your eyes on the bigger picture; Jesus Christ. I say this in all seriousness because there is a small but vital distinction to be made with your fundraising.

A Day in the Life of a Catholic Fundraiser

The 5 tasks you should do each day

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 sure you want to start your fundraising strong in the New Year but, as the weeks pass, you find yourself too busy with other tasks and then fall behind. Eventually, you lose motivation.

Falling behind with my fundraising has happened to me, and it’s why I don’t bother setting funding targets anymore—at least not the usual way. When I think of raising funds for a Catholic charity, school, parish, diocese, religious order, or lay apostolate, I know some missions are just too important to entrust to a faulty fundraising approach.

Instead, I use a proven fundraising approach which structures itself around the teachings of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. That way, I protect myself from the many pitfalls and failings of typical fundraising.

This approach has taken me years to develop, and I’ve seen it work not only in my activities but also in the campaigns of countless Catholic causes with whom I’ve shared it.

Some people will say that the best way to raise funds is to plan a capital campaign and frantically tell everyone you know to donate. But that method is way too time-consuming, fatiguing, and probably a lot of you work, wouldn’t you agree?

We’re talking about the things that matter most: your mission. Why would you run around aimlessly in the hope of finding donors and, at a much faster speed, burn yourself out? Instead of losing steam, you just need to use a method that actually works.

What Your Day Should Look Like as a Fundraiser

An effective fundraising method must factor in what you do in your day-to-day. In fact, it’s that simple. If you focus on the right tasks during your day, you set yourself up to raise funds.

Your day must factor at least five tasks which parallel the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

1. Start with prayer. Unless you begin your fundraising with prayer, you are sure to fall off track. Your intentions should be focused on asking God for the ability to keep your eyes and ears open to the resources and people God is placing before you.

Additional Help: Take a look at Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 146 for more on this topic.
More on this Topic: I also wrote an article titled ‘How to fit fundraising in your Catholic faith‘ which you will find helpful.

2. Respond to day-to-day contacts. Use Email, letters, and phone calls to respond to people you’ve been in touch with over the past week and month. You must always remember that donations come from the hands of other people.

Additional Help: Take a look at Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1810 for more on how to respond to people.

More on this Topic: Read my article ‘How to Find More and More and More Donors (and then even more)‘ for more insight on this subject.

3. Build awareness about your mission. Leverage your social media, website, and email to build visibility. I frequently say that you must have people’s attention and trust before they will say ‘yes’ to a donation request. Keep spreading the message of your work.

Additional Help: Check out what the Catechism says about social media and communications in CCC 2493-4.

More on this Topic: I wrote this article, How to create an amazing website, so you can move fast when it comes to spreading your mission on the internet.

4. Ask for donations. Reflect on how the Catechism teaches us that the first movement of a petition is asking forgiveness. What is it that you truly are asking for forgiveness? That you are bothering someone with your request, or that you aren’t the best charity and that you are still learning the ropes.

Additional Help: Consider what the Catechism says about asking for things CCC 2631 as a reliable benchmark for making a genuine request. 

More on this Topic: I also recommend reading this article, What to say and not say when asking for donations.

5. Follow-up with outstanding decisions. Checking back with the people you’ve spoken with about a donation is 90% of getting the donation. You have to follow-up.

Additional Help: Read CCC 1752 for additional details on how to grow in confidence with getting people’s decisions. 

More on this Topic: You will also find this article, The Importance of Following Up with People, has additional content to help you.

Brice Sokolowski Catholic Fundraiser

Getting Better with Your Daily Fundraising

I suggest spending at least two hours a day completing all of these tasks. If you cannot find that much time, start with whatever you have available. Then add more time each week.

I got into the habit of doing these five actions and saw a big difference in my fundraising results. I was much more focused, and in just a few weeks, I uncovered the many opportunities God was placing before me. It was quite incredible. I hadn’t seen all the blessings God was giving to me before, but then I was more self-aware of all the people and opportunities.

My approach before was to run and chase money and people. Now, my approach was focused on God, recognizing the gifts and people he placed before me and acting on them. There was now much more collaboration with God’s will and mine when it came to fundraising. My morale was much higher too. I was joyful when speaking with donors and prospects. They saw this and were even happier to make donations.

How You Can Improve Your Fundraising Today

Life’s too short for typical fundraising approaches which almost guarantee you failure. The good news is that you can shortcut the heartache, stop counting on luck, and finally succeed. Better yet, you can spend more time doing what you want to do: saving more lives and souls.

I recommend you follow this day-to-day approach which and immediately move your fundraising in the right direction. You can also start by using this simple pray, pray, pray, ask method to move you in the right direction.

Pray – Take time to reflect on what your average fundraising day looks like. Read Genesis 29:20 and reflect on the patience of Jacob. In our modern times, we get anxious and want everything now. Take time to be patient and attentive to what is happening around you and whom God is placing in your life. How observant are you?

Pray – Reflect on when you can find 2 hours a day to do these tasks. Once you find the time, mark it in your diary. What gets put in your calendar usually gets done. If you don’t have 2 hours, start with whatever time you can make, mark that time in your diary, and move forward. Then, over time, try to increase your time dedicated to fundraising.

Pray – Start each of your fundraising days with prayer. You can use the daily readings or a reflection of a saint. Imagine yourself being aware of all the gifts that the Holy Spirit will provide for you that day, and see yourself recognizing them.

Ask – Go forward and take action with each task. Then, make sure to ask those people that God is placing in your life. Follow-up with the people whom you are waiting for a response. Most importantly, speak to the new people God places in your life.

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Brice Sokolowski Catholic Fundraiser

Happy New Year… now what’s your fundraising plan?

The Importance of Following-Up with People

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.

Brice Sokolowski Catholic Fundraiser

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.

To learn more about what to say to people, and build your confidence in following-up, read this article: How to Find the Right Words When Fundraising.

Case Study #2 – This is What You Should Do

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.

Brice Sokolowski Catholic Fundraiser

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.

Brice Sokolowski Catholic Fundraiser

Keynote Speeches: Rome Catholic Fundraising Conference 2017

Hello my fellow Catholic,

I’ve learned over the years when you’re working hard to find funds; it’s easy to lose sight of the mission.

So, as you take time to relax and consider where you want to go in 2018, I wanted to share with you 3 keynote speeches I gave about a month ago at the 1st ever Catholic Fundraising Conference in Rome.

The 10 Successful Habits of a Catholic Fundraiser

Catholic Fundraising in the 21st Century – Trends and Opportunities

How to Use Social Media to Raise Awareness and Funds

All three speeches have one simple wish for you: to help you stay focused on saving more lives and souls in the New Year.

Stay blessed,
Brice

The Most Successful Way to Fundraise in 2018

Fundraising is on every Catholic’s mind when it comes to carrying out their mission. We all know it must be done, but most of us don’t want to think about it. Worse, we wait the last minute to do anything about it, therefore limiting our ability to be successful.

This is unfortunate because fundraising is really important! Being successful with receiving donations can open so many new possibilities with spreading your cause. Even more, it doesn’t have to be as painful as you think.

The sad reality is that most Catholic causes fail at reaching their funding targets. This year, most of the hundred Catholic orders, schools, apostolates, dioceses and parishes which I collaborate with have either delayed or canceled their campaigns because they never got around to putting the wheels in motion.

So what is the secret to reaching your funding goals?

Whether your funding goal is large or small, it all comes down to having a disciplined approach to fundraising year round. There are two distinct types of fundraising which allow you to do so: active and passive. Active fundraising is the actions you most associate with fundraising. In other words, it’s when you are actively seeking donations and making gift requests.

[Tweet “Whether your funding goal is large or small, it all comes down to having a disciplined approach.”]

Passive fundraising is driven by the actions you take to update current donations, cultivate prospects, and plan your next fundraising campaign (active fundraising). To put it simply, passive fundraising focuses on planting and watering seeds, while active fundraising is all about harvesting what has grown.

As Saint Paul says, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God caused the growth.” (1 Corinthians 3:6)

Your entire year – meaning 365 days – therefore should have these two seasons: active and passive fundraising.

Passive Fundraising

When many Catholics get started with their fundraising, the common first steps focus on writing a case for support, sending letters, and asking people for donations.

While all of these actions are necessary for fundraising, you must take several steps back before completing them. Passive fundraising is all about preparing yourself, prospects, and your current donors before you do seek to raise funds.

Most Catholic charities, however, overlook passive fundraising, which is one of the leading causes of their failure in raising funds.

For instance, instead of immediately asking for donations and sponsorships, think of the different ways you can spread the news about the great work you are currently doing and how the community is already benefiting. This helps build awareness and trust in what you are doing. With these in place, people are much more inclined to donate when you do ask.

Another way you can passively fundraise is to focus your attention on your current donors and network. Update them on what you’ve been doing, the impact you’ve had, and ask for what they’d like to hear about from you. Deliver regularly stories, facts, and examples of how their support and involvement are helping you carry out your mission.

[Tweet “Focus your attention on your current donors and network.”]

I call this passive fundraising because what you are doing is attracting people’s attention to the impact your mission is having, which as a result, is building trust in your work. Again, awareness and trust are two critical factors that must be present for people to donate (even increase their current giving). It’s important to remember that people give not because you ask but because they are inspired by the great work you do. Therefore, inspire them, continuously.

Brice Sokolowski Catholic Fundraiser

People who know you will be even more impressed by how the Holy Spirit is working through you, and in turn, they will want to get more involved in your work.

Improving your storytelling is perhaps one the best things you can do to have better results with your passive fundraising. In addition to sharing great stories, your success in fundraising will be dependent on how committed you are to do this. Therefore, get into the habit.

Being Successful in Fundraising Means Being Disciplined

Habits are a significant pillar of the Catholic Church. Look at every religious order, and you will find that they each follow a set of daily routines. If you have big plans for your cause, charity, order, organization, implementing the right habits will serve to improve how you raise funds.

[Tweet “Implementing the right habits will serve to improve how you raise funds.”]

Leaders and fundraisers can set goals, assign tasks, monitor daily progress, and keep everyone on the same page throughout the duration of a project. The result is building your network of happy donors who want to continue supporting you and a list of prospects who will welcome the opportunity to support your work.

Success in raising funds starts with passive fundraising. Again, I quote the line from Saint Paul because it’s so relevant with fundraising: I planted. Apollos watered. God grew. If you want your fundraising to last, there has to be ample time to plant and water seeds.

You can learn more about how to passively fundraising by reading my article: The Generosity Factor: How giving is the fastest way to more donors

Active fundraising

Everyone wants to hit their fundraising targets, but too few want to take the time to plan for success. While setting a goal is easy to do, it can be very hard to accomplish.

One of the most significant challenges to reaching your funding target is the commitment to the right habits. Yes, habits are essential to your fundraising. This is because when you don’t see instantaneous results, you can quickly get discouraged, change your target, change your approach, or cancel the campaign altogether. Therefore, having the right habits before you begin is imperative.

When it comes to reaching your funding target, you cannot do it without a number of support systems. This is why I am so adamant about people subscribing to my website, CatholicFundraiser.net, because I offer the weekly support you need to overcome discouragement and continue moving forward. I also provide you tools and resources to track your progress, adjust your messaging, and of course, improve how you ask for donations.

I recommend subscribing now if you have not yet done so: Subscribe to CatholicFundraiser.net

When looking at raising money, much of the focus is on finding people to ask and then asking. However, the foundation of a great campaign is always internal. I recommend you focus your attention on what Jesus told us to do. Seek and find. Knock, and the door will be open. Ask and receive. Consider organizing your campaign in these three parts: seek, knock, ask. (Luke 11:9)

Therefore, yes it’s important to ask, but you also have to seek and knock.

Your first task is to consider where you will look for donations. Because you’ve been spent considerable time with passive fundraising, knowing whom you will ask is clockwork. You already have your long list of donors and prospects ready to focus your attention.

Brice Sokolowski Catholic Fundraiser

Then, you take ample time to knock on each person’s door and share with them your request. This means knocking on each person’s door, one after another, and making a personal invitation. One to one fundraising is the only way to go because it works, it’s genuine, and Catholics enjoy this approach the most.

Last, you must make a clear and compelling ask. This too is easy because you’ve spent plenty of time sharing your story during your season of passive fundraising that everyone already knows what you do and sees the impact you have. While the finer details of this task are crucial in reaching your funding goal, the overarching focus should be to seek, knock, and then ask. This is a structured and Catholic approach to your fundraising.

I talk in more detail about how to actively fundraise with using this approach in my two articles: How to Write a Fundraising Target and How to Make a Fundraising Plan

Your Turn

When it comes to reaching your funding target, discipline throughout the year is the defining factor. When you get into the habit of passively and actively fundraising, you will have tremendous success. Also, regardless of what your target is – a hundred dollars or hundred million, you must always have a passive and active season with your fundraising.

As 2017 comes to a close, review the following approach below to see how you can plan your passive and active fundraising seasons. Both will be pivotal in helping you stick to your fundraising and hitting your goals.

Pray – Take a moment to read 1 Corinthians 3:6 and consider how Saint Paul went about planting and watering seeds. Take a piece of paper and map out when you can have two seasons to your fundraising.

Pray – Take a comment to ask God how you can better passively fundraise. How can you better share your story? God is asking you to do great things in his name. Review the people who are currently in your life and the gifts they are giving you. How can you bring them closer to your mission without asking for donations?

Pray – Reflect on how you respond to the new people in your life. God is always bringing people into your life for a purpose. How often are you considering why someone enters your life, the talents they have, and how you both can work together to bring your mission forward? Too often we look only for people with ‘deep pockets’. Don’t let money be your focus. Instead, let the Holy Spirit guide you and your new relationships.

Ask – Take time to map out your year and define when you actively and passively fundraise. Write down the different tasks you will accomplish each week, so you get into the right habits. Follow your approach which will give you plenty of time to plant and water seeds. Then, when it is time to fundraise actively, recognize the different opportunities God has grown for you.

Brice Sokolowski Catholic Fundraiser

Question: What is your plan for succeeding with fundraising in 2018?