How to Convert One-Off Donors to Life-Long Supporters

When fundraising, I sometimes get so focused on my performance (how much money I raised) that I lose sight on the why. For example, each month, when I review the total I have raised, two reactions either happen. If I am over my target, I am delighted. If I am below my target, I become a nervous wreck.

Watch my short video for a brief overview of this blog post

This rollercoaster of emotions happens when I forget about the long term focus and purpose of my work. Yes, hitting targets is important, but when I forget the ‘why,’ I quickly get sidetracked. I get tied into the results, and whether I can relax or not. I should instead keep my attention assessing what I did well and not well, and then move forward.

Fundraising isn’t a race. It’s not about a good or great month. It’s not about a great campaign, either. It’s about the constant, slow, consistent efforts you put in, day by day, to share with people the why of your charity. Why you do your work. Why you help people. Why follow Christ.

This bigger meaning drives me forward to reach my results. When I maintain this level of execution, I am always more consistent and achieve greater success with my long-term fundraising goals. I hit targets much more regularly and with less stress.

How do I maintain this focus on the why? As a Catholic, I do this by reflecting on the mysteries of the Holy Trinity. Yes, by maintaining focus on God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, I fundraise with much more consistency and success.

Here are three reflections on the Holy Trinity that have helped me maintain a successful mindset and work ethic in my fundraising.

Lesson 1 – Take the Trinity as your barometer

As a fundraiser, your goal is to find donors. Do you find it challenging to be on the receiving end of people’s generosity?

I know that I do, but I have learned that reflecting on the Trinity helps me measure this feeling of disparity and recalibrate it.

How? Jesus taught us how to receive the Father’s love. This gift was given to us for free. Then, Jesus taught us to give this love to others. This action is how you calibrate those feelings.

You give.

You give.

And you give.

You give to your donors. To your beneficiaries. To your contributors. To your volunteers. To everyone around you. You give x1,000. As Saint Augustine said, “The measure of love is to love without measure.”

[Tweet “As Saint Augustine said, “The measure of love is to love without measure.””]

Jesus is the Beloved. He is loved by the God, the Father. The Holy Spirit is the love that flows between the Father and the Son. However, as all are God, but not the same, the are all the source. Meaning, the Father doesn’t receive back what He first gave to the Son. The Trinity always was, is, and will be. It’s perpetual, never-ending, and overflowing giving.

And that’s what we are supposed to do, especially in fundraising before and after we receive gifts. We have to replicate the Holy Trinity’s giving.

I recommend reading the tracts of Saint Augustine, which you can find on Augustine offers a beautify explanation of how to incorporate the Trinity into our lives.

This perspective on fundraising provides me a unique framework which is hugely successful in the Catholic sector. Why? Because Catholics understand the Trinity. They understand giving.

I focus on this constant and continuous flow of generosity. Each day, I reflect on how I can give and receive more with my board, colleagues, donors, volunteers, and prospects.

I highly recommend you read this article on the 7 ways to increase donors without spending money.

Also, you will learn how to take this idea to the next level with The Generosity Factor: How giving is the fastest way to donors.

Lesson 2 – Instigate, don’t wait

I have learned that I should not wait for others to reach out and connect with me. Rather, I should instigate the initial point of contact. Even if I am scared to do so, I take that leap and contact people. I call them. I meet with them. I reach out to them.

I am reminded of Saint Paul’s words, explaining that Jesus died for us when we didn’t even love him. (Romans 5:8). Jesus did not need us, yet he made that first, great move for us. The greatest gift a friend has to offer. (John 15:13). If God had waited for us to get our acts together, I’m not sure anything would ever happen.

This is how the Holy Trinity functions. It doesn’t wait on others to give. It doesn’t wait on others to receives. By God’s nature, this is what the 3 in 1 does, over and over again.

Saint Mother Teresa said, “I have found the paradox: if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.”

[Tweet “”I have found the paradox: if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.” – Mother Teresa”]

Therefore, I recommend that you do not wait for others to contact you about your work or to make a donation. I recommend you make of 20 people whom you’ve been waiting to connect with or have hoped would contact you. Find their contact details and reach out to them today.

You will find my article on Dream Lists helpful in completing this task. When I made my dream list, I saw immediate results.

Learn the fastest way to move your fundraising forward with Dream Lists: A Catholic Way to Specialize in Fundraising

Lesson 3 – Reflect on how your charity is perceived

Reflection and awareness are two of the greatest gifts we have from God.

I turn to Saint Augustine again and his profound discourse in exploring this phenomenon of self-knowledge. Augustine explains this concept by viewing a person through the lens of the Trinity. A unitary person functions in three ways: the knower, the known, and the knowledge.

You can read more about this on Saint Augustine Tract 15, Book 6.

At times, when I am completely focused on my fundraising, I think that I know what I am doing. I also think that I know other people know what I am doing: raising funds for a great cause.

However, only when I take the time to reflect that I learn what is working to attract people’s attention, increase my donors, and raise more funds.

I used to think that certain events would not produce donations; however, it was after reflection that I learned otherwise. And, I used to think that I had to spend lots of money to attract people to events; however, again, this theory was proved incorrect after reflection.

I recommend you do the same. Take the time to reflect what worked and didn’t work this past month. Who donated, and why did those people donate?

I also recommend frequently sending surveys to your donors, followers, volunteers, and anyone else connected with you to ask this important question: How well am I serving you?

This action is particularly important when you find yourself in a slump in fundraising.

Ask yourself, ‘What do I forget to give to my network of donors, volunteers, and contacts?’ I am not saying you must give material gifts to others. Sometimes the perfect gift is a handwritten card or phone call.

For more information on this topic, I recommend you read my article on how to build a fundraising plan to guarantee results.

How to Build Your Own Fundraising Plan in less than 10 minutes.


You may think that fundraising is about raising money, but, in the long term, your success in fundraising is dependent on how well you connect with those around you. That is why reflecting on the Holy Trinity helps keep you focused on the bigger picture.

When you find yourself at a crossroads, unsure of what to do next, take a step back and consider how God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit interact with one another. It’s by renewing your understanding of how they give and receive between one another that you will find your next step forward.

Also, a practical way to keep the momentum of your fundraising going is by making a list of 20 people to contact and say, “Thought I should say hello and ask if there is anything I can do for you. When would you like to chat? I’d love to hear from you.”

I recommend doing this each week, and, if you keep this habit, you will see, day by day, more success in your fundraising.

Question (Leave your comments and questions below): What has the Trinity taught you about relationships, giving, and receiving?



The 4 important lessons from the saints (about fundraising)

We look to the saints for guidance when we find ourselves in a challenging situation. This could happen when we face a family crisis, a confrontation at work, low self-esteem, despair, or simply pondering what to do next. In my life, several saints (Augustine, Liguori, Bernard, John Paul II) have helped me navigate my way through these challenging times.

Why not turn to the saints for guidance with fundraising, too?

I have discovered stories about how saints inspired others and raised money which I think would be helpful to review.

Here are four lessons that I learned from saints about fundraising.

Lesson 1 – Be a fantastic storyteller like the saints

I recommend that you be an incredible storyteller because fundraising is all about sharing ideas, building relationships, and inspiring action.

Remember, each donation comes from the hands of a person. This person donates when they recognize something special in you. They were motivated to give because you shared a common interest that was important to them. You communicated it in a way that caught their attention and gave them the trust that you would do something great with the money.

Saint Alphonsus knew the power of storytelling and the art of connecting with an individual. He’s one of my favorite saints because he captivates my attention through vivid stories, practical theology, clear doctrine, and beautiful prayer. When he shares the story of a saint, he does so with such passion and vividness that I can see the saint in front of me. Incredible. Alphonsus does it all; hence his title as Doctor of the Church.

You can read my article on how to write a fantastic fundraising letter for more help with this task: THE EASY WAY TO WRITE A GREAT FUNDRAISING LETTER

How can you be a better storyteller with your audience?

Lesson 2 – Engage at the individual level like the saints

When you share your story, be intentional with each person and interaction, no matter the size of the donation or audience. When you send an email or letter, particularly to a large group, communicate as if you are addressing just one person. And, if the individual cannot give what seems to you a significant amount, be conscious that it is a generous gift in their eyes. Try to see Christ in every person who connects with you.

I recommend engaging one on one with your donors, volunteers, and prospects as much as possible. The best way to do so is by blocking time each week to speak with them.

Whether you find 30 minutes, 1 hour, or a full day, you should set aside time to connect with people directly. I suggest that you commit to this goal each week for an entire year. After 52 weeks, you will have spoken to several hundred people, and I guarantee among them will be new donors.

People will applaud your commitment to stay in touch with them because it is one of the best ways for building relationships and trust with people. People want this in a Catholic organization when considering to donate.

Saint Bernard was a master at consistently writing letters and sharing his ideas with people. Maybe this was thanks to the habits he acquired as a Cistercian monk. Saint Vincent de Sales and Saint Ignatius of Loyola also understood the importance of continually communicating at the individual level. They habitually kept people informed of their work, shared their ideas, and inspired people to support them. Their religious organizations directly benefited from their commitment.

I follow the example these saints have set. Each week, with my work for Catholic organizations, I set time aside to contact people personally. By doing so, I grow incrementally and consistently their number of donors. This habit also helps build a current list of prospects.

Lesson 3: Don’t always ask for something

Saints do not always ask for things in their letters, which seems to be the opposite of most charities. I recommend taking the saints’ approach by focusing on connecting with people and sharing ideas that will make the reader grow in sanctity.

I wrote an article on the #1 reason people donate which you may find helpful: THE ONLY REASONS SOMEONE WILL DONATE TO YOU

I also think saints would leverage social media and websites to connect with people and share their messages. Take for example Saint John Paul II. What a maverick! He leveraged video and radio to spread Catholic messages and to draw people to the Catholic faith.

Pope Pius XI in 1976 published the Apostolic Exhortation also recommended using social media to share the message of Christ. I wrote a MASSIVELY popular post on how to build a Catholic website: THE BUILDING BLOCKS TO A KILLER CATHOLIC WEBSITE

Again, I recommend sharing and connecting with people rather than using social tools and letters to ask for donations. I have said it already, but the only reason someone will donate to you is if they know you exist and trust you. Therefore, get their attention and build trust.

If you are looking to increase your online presence, I recommend you read my step by step instructions on how to make an incredible Catholic website: HOW TO HAVE 1,000,000 PEOPLE VISIT YOUR CATHOLIC WEBSITE

Lesson 4 – Be a saint: don’t be afraid to be Catholic

I enjoyed reading Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s autobiography, Treasure in Clay. We are merely pots of clay which pass items from one person to the next.

[Tweet “Hearing nuns’ confessions is like being stoned to death with popcorn. – Archbishop Fulton Sheen”]

I am amazed how saints, just as Fulton Sheen, accomplished so much through this method: acting as a channel for receiving gifts and then using them to transform the world. They were able to receive gifts, both big and small, to build churches, convents, monasteries, schools, and spread the Gospel to better communities.

The saints understood the concept of receiving talents and multiplying them. (Matthew 25:14-30) You do not increase talents by keeping them buried in the ground. Rather, you use the gifts of the Holy Spirit to increase them.

Saint Vincent de Paul understood this when he founded the “Ladies of Charity,” a group of women who financially supported his work. Saint Vincent knew how to receive a gift and transform people’s lives.

Saint Francis of Assisi also was an incredible ‘receiver and giver.’ I am inspired by his confidence to go into the world and preach about Jesus Christ. He would transform people so much by his witness and words that they would give him gifts, sometimes large ones too.

When I visited Assisi on pilgrimage, a fellow pilgrim told me a story about how Saint Francis crashed a dinner party to speak about the Gospel. Moved by his passion and words, the host, who happened to be a wealthy man, offered Francis a relatively large portion of land.

habit of saint francis

Photo I took of Saint Francis’s habit – Assisi, Italy

Francis happily accepted the offer. He lived on the land and invited people, including thieves and criminals, to live with him under one condition. They had to welcome his way of life: following Jesus Christ. I often reflect how Francis, a man who lived a life of poverty, accepted this gift and transformed so many lives, even mine.

There is now a monastery on this land, along with the cave where Saint Francis lived. I lied down for a minute on his bed of iron bars, a transformational moment. As I laid there, hundreds of years after his death, Francis still had the ability to do wonders with this gift of land.

For a second, you could say Francis was a wealthy landowner. He, however, knew how to be even richer: by being rich in the eyes of the Lord.

Therefore, never back away from your Catholic identity. Like Saint Francis, be bold and proud to called a Christian. God will bless you by placing the right people in front of you.

How to put these lessons into practice

As you prepare for your next fundraising campaign, capital appeal, or look to improve your stewardship, remember how the saints would connect with people, inspire them, accept their donations, and use them to transform the world.

Also, I ask that you remember that money is never the direct solution to your problems. Nor will it be the reason you succeed. We can transform the world with it and without it. Money is simply an enabler.

You can read an article I wrote on why generosity to others will bring you more results than asking for donations: THE GENEROSITY FACTOR: How Giving Is The Fastest Way to More Donors

Jesus looked at them and said, “For human beings this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26

When you do fundraise and receive donations, look to the saints for guidance. They didn’t build networks of monasteries, convents, and churches on their own.

They were committed to Christ and were always ready to receive more all the while giving even more. Do you have this vision, too?

QUESTION: Which saint do you admire, and how can he/she help you with fundraising?


The Generosity Factor: How giving is the fastest way to more donors

In fundraising, we often hear the phrase,” you don’t ask, you don’t get.” You can even trace this quote back to Jesus in Matthew 7:7. I fully agree this statement is correct; however, I think another statement has, even more, impact on how successful your fundraising is: “you don’t give, you don’t get.”

These words have a connection to what Saint Paul says in Acts 20:35.

“In every way, I have shown you that by hard work of that sort we must help the weak, and keep in mind the words of the Lord Jesus who himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

If I take my life, for example, I have found the more I practice generosity, the more my relationships with others. As a result, I find the people around me, more often than not, reciprocate this generosity.

This concept is also true for a Catholic charity, particularly with its fundraising.

Fundraising is quite pragmatic. It is concerned with meeting the budgetary requirements. Money in, and money spent. However, how you execute fundraising is not a simple process of meeting certain conditions. It’s not simply donations received, donations spent. Ask, then receive.

Fundraising also means interacting with people. And the best success in fundraising focuses not on the donations but on how you deal with those people: including donors, prospects, volunteers, followers, and anyone else who comes into contact with you.

Therefore: Give, and receive.

And this is why generosity is so important. Every donation you ever receive comes from the hands of a person. If you focus on the people, not the gifts, you will speed up the number of donors you have.

Here are five practical reasons how generosity is a full-proof way for inspiring people to donate to you.

Lesson 1: Generosity begins with you

I have touched on this concept a few times already, but I think it can never be said enough. Generosity begins with self. If you want people to donate, I recommend that you set the bar and start giving to people.

I’ve asked over 20,000 people for donations in my time as a fundraiser, and my experience tells me that each time I demonstrated an ethos of giving myself, the response from others is much higher.

So, instead of waiting for people to sign the pledge form, I recommend you kick start the tradition of giving. I wrote an article on seven different ways you can start giving to others (at a very low cost).

Lesson 2: We are wired to give and receive – no haggling required

When you receive a gift, you naturally feel obligated to give in return. Just think of the last time someone gave you a gift. What was your reaction?

More than likely you said, “How thoughtful. You shouldn’t have. Thank you so much.” Then, you said to yourself, “She/He is so sweet. I should get them something.”

This is our natural wiring. We are designed to act and think like this because God made us to connect with one another. We are designed to give, allowing others to receive.

The act of giving is the transformational element between two people. The gift itself is actually secondary, a bi-product. Giving elevates the bond between people to new heights because we are designed to give, not receive.

Therefore, you don’t have to convince someone to give to you. You simply have to remind the person of their divine nature.

How do you do this? You nurture the relationships you have with people like you would with any friend or family member. You take notice of who the person is: their passions, desires, fears, joys, doubts, and dreams. By making the habit to be generous to others, they will follow your example.

And, the more people you can give to, the more opportunities you have for more donors.

For major donors, I recommend reading this article:

For grants and trusts, I recommend this article:

And for individual givers, I highly recommend you read this article:

Lesson 3 – Time grows all things, especially donations

The act of nurturing a relationship in the long-term through acts of giving has exponential effects on your fundraising.

As Saint Paul tells us, generosity helps relationships matured over time. (1 Corinthians 3:6) Therefore, rather than looking at fundraising as a transfer of money between people, I recommend you view it as an opportunity to plant seeds, nurture relationships, and allow God to grow what He wishes.

Often, people ask me how to convert one-off donors to long-term ones. The best method I have found is to nurture the relationship over time, and you do this by continually being generous to those one-off donors.

Now, I am not saying you should flood them with pamphlets and donation requests in the mail after their one donation. How often has this happened to you?

My suggestion is to be attentive to what inspired the person to donate in the first place. What caused them to give? You can even ask them directly. Then, focus on building a relationship based on this inspiration.

Does this method sometimes take time? Yes, but this is just the point. With time, when you nurture a relationship, you also build trust with people who will gradually become donors, one after another. And isn’t that what we want? A long list of faithful, long-term donors that stand by us. Therefore, be patient. If you consistently do this, you will see the fruits of your labor.

Check out my article on leveraging technology to build a massive following of faithful supporters:

Lesson 4 – Keep your giving-receiving cycle balanced

Many charities have unbalanced giving-receiving cycles because their donors are always asked to give. In return, how often do charities then give in return? Not much in my experience.

I don’t recommend doing this because if all you do is ask others to give, you receive much more than you give. And remember, Saint Paul reminds us this is not the recommended way to live.

Therefore, you must reset the balance by giving back. You do so by giving your donors the trust, confidence, and commitment that donations are being wisely used. By doing this, you build a loyal donor base who will give again and recommend you within their circle of friends and family members.

This concept of balancing your cycle is of particular importance when you want to retain donors. One of the quickest ways to increase your number of donors is by keeping the ones you already have. This is what we call retention.

Many charities focus on asking and finding new donors. They spend money on advertisements to attract people’s attention. They run from parish to parish asking for donations.

These activities, in my experience, are ineffective for two reasons. First, the best way to increase your donors is to have your current ones recommend you. And second, the best way to increase your current donations is to build the trust within your current donors. Plus, my approach is much easier and less costly.

Always remember, a great way to grow your donor base is to retain your current ones while finding new ones.

For more on this topic, I wrote an article on how to build a massive following of loyal donors:

I also provide an easy to follow template for balancing your messages with donors and prospects in this article:

Lesson 5 – Supercharge your cycle of giving-receiving

Once you have perfected the first four steps, you are ready to take your fundraising to an even higher level. You do so by making sure that your benefactors are donors are balanced between one another.

What do I mean?

With the money that you receive from donors, you spend it to accomplish your mission: help the sick, feed the hungry, visit the imprisoned, welcome the lonely, and comfort the dying.

You use the money from your donors to help your beneficiaries. You are an intermediary between two people: the donor and the recipient.

You are doing fantastic work by fundraising for your charity to help people. However, this model also places both donors and beneficiaries out of balance in the bigger picture of giving and receiving.

Just for a moment, I ask that you consider the perspective of the donor and the beneficiary. A donor gives but often doesn’t receive much in return, apart from a thank you letter. The benefactor receives care and resources but often doesn’t give in return.

You may think, “Well, donors give to charity because that’s the right thing to do, and the benefactors should not be expected to give. They are not in a position to give”. Yes, they give out of the goodness of their heart. They are philanthropic, but at the same time, they do need something in return. I do not use the word need often, but often, a donor is looking for assurance that their donation has achieved their goal of making a difference.

And with regards to the beneficiaries, they want to give because we are all designed by God to give, not just receive. The purpose to living is giving. No matter who someone is, he or she has something to give. Even if the person is going through the most challenging life moment, they have something to give to others. That is why the Catholic Church’s stance on life is so incredible. [Catechism 2270-2273] Catholics see value in each person, no matter their circumstances.

Therefore, I recommend that your beneficiaries give, so they feel that they are giving just as much as they are receiving. Ask yourself the question, “How can I make sure those who we are helping are helping in return?” How can they contribute? Most often, they have something to give back to the donors.

And with your donors, make sure they feel the joy of receiving. Ask yourself the question, “Do my donors feel appreciated through how we demonstrate our thanks to them?”

I wrote an article on this how you can use technology to achieve this supercharged cycle:

Personal experience – Generosity in action

I was hired by a charity to increase their number of donors. When I first started, I made a list of prospects and called each one to ask for a donation. Whether they had a long-term relationship with the charity or just got in touch, I did not care. I called each one and asked. My strategy was the more asks, the more chances of donations.

This strategy did not bear much fruit. My conversion rate (getting someone to donate) was low. Really low. Maybe not even 3%. My results were so bad that I was also afraid to report it to the director and the board.

After a few months of low results, I switched my approach.

Rather than ask for people to join, I put generosity into action by flipping my request a full 180 degrees. Instead of asking for a donation, I thanked them for connecting with us, and then ask, ‘What can I give you?’

Within a few months, I tripled my results. The number of new donors went up by 350% every month. By the end of the year, we had twice as many donors. And the next year, we doubled again.

These are massive results! Just imagine if your current rate of new donors was 20, 50, or even 100. How incredible if you could triple these figures? What additional projects could you start?

Conclusion – Generosity works when it begins with you

I recommend you always set the standard for generosity because it is a fantastic way to increase your number of donors.

Before asking someone for a donation, ask the question, “Have I been generous to this person?” And, if you want a donor to give more, find a way for the giving to increase from your side. You’ll soon find more major donors among your current ones.

QUESTION: What is one way you can be more generous to those around you?

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Trends in Catholic Fundraising

I have vivid memories of attending Mass throughout my childhood and youth and listening to the priest, financial parish secretary or visitor explain, as an auditor would, why there wasn’t enough money or why they needed more.

The person speaking said something like this: “We are doing fantastic work, but we can only continue because of your financial support. Therefore, please give.” Browsing the faces around me, I noticed most people passively listened, waiting for the speaker to finish.


The unfortunate part was the joy of celebrating the Mass was disrupted by a tepid, five-minute request for money.

Fast forward to today, after experiencing countless Sunday appeals and second collections, I recognize that most requests for funds are dull and disruptive. My assumption is you agree with me.

The Landscape of Catholic Fundraising is Changing

I understand the importance of giving, and I enjoy supporting Catholic causes, but I have come to the conclusion that the only reason they asked me is that I was sitting in the pew, unable to run away. Everything else is secondary, such as how diligent the organization is in managing money, how faithful they are to Church teaching, or how successful they are in their mission. Their stewardship of my generosity is never discussed.

The following Sunday, if lucky, I may hear, “Thank you for your generosity. We raised [the amount].” The end. I won’t hear anything from them until the following year when I am asked to replicate my generosity.

Repeat this scenario 30 or 40 times, and this is what most Catholics experience each Sunday throughout the year. Our fundraising culture is founded on dull, disruptive appeals, one after another, with minimal stewardship on the part of the recipient.

[Tweet “Catholic fundraising doesn’t have to be founded on dull, disruptive appeals, one after another.”]

This method of fundraising, which dominates the Catholic Church, along with other methods such as auctions and dinners, has undoubtedly accomplished much over the past decades. At the same time, these methods appear to be gaining rust. Statistics on the level of giving by Catholics has remained low (in comparison to Protestant denominations) and stagnant for several decades, and there appear to be no signs of any increases.

As the number of Catholics attending Mass on Sunday continues to decline each year, fewer people are sitting in the pews to listen to these appeals. Therefore, we can assume that the trajectory of giving in the Catholic Church will continue to decline.

The priest of one parish confessed to me that, after years of appeals, he is so tired of the constant requests for his flock’s money, that he just doesn’t allow any more appeals. Other priests, though they haven’t taken this decision, reciprocate the feelings.

There is a Silver Lining in Fundraising

As a fundraiser, I’ve spoken to many Catholics about these topics. They’ve told me that they are drained by the constant requests and disruptions at Mass. What’s more interesting, most have admitted they would happily give (and give more) if they were asked differently. Therefore, I must ask: What alternative methods can we consider to raise funds more effectively in the Catholic Church?

To answer this question, I have read as many books as I could about Catholic fundraising. There is, unfortunately, not a lot of practical material available that explains step-by-step for how to raise money for Catholic organizations. Most Catholic authors focus on the theological and pastoral implications. In my experience, this lack of practical and Catholic references is a major issue.

I’ve also spoken with countless fundraisers. We could refer to resources for non-Catholic, charitable fundraising. I, however, don’t think the solutions they offer align with our Catholic culture of giving. Unlike other donors, Catholics give because it is a fundamental act of our being. We are created in the image and likeness of God, and Jesus Christ demonstrated that we give because this is how God created us. We give regardless if someone asks. Therefore, using fundraising tactics to improve conversion rates or response rates to increase Catholic giving seems pointless. Those are not the problems.

[Tweet “Catholics give because it is a fundamental act of our being.”]

From my perspective, after spending the last five years navigating the ever-changing landscape of Catholic fundraising, I see the solutions elsewhere. Catholics are eager to donate; however, they are looking to give to organizations that are faithful to Church teaching and don’t disrupt them during Mass. In light of what I’ve seen that works, I recognize three overarching trends that will shape the future of fundraising.

TREND #1 – Change How You Ask

As I previously mentioned, with the number of people attending Mass on the decline, and the overall negative mood about appeals, we must be open to different forms of asking people for donations. In the past, fundraisers could too easily and without much pushback ask Catholics to give while they sat in the pews. Today, however, Catholics are not so easily swayed.

There are a lot more options for them to give their money. Before, it was a seller’s (fundraiser’s) market. Now, it’s a buyer’s (donor’s) market. If a Catholic doesn’t like the approach, they are less afraid not to give.

How to respond to this environment? The first step is to steward people’s donations properly through active and informative communications about how their money is spent. Second, I recommend asking people how they would like to give and respond appropriately. If they don’t like giving during Mass, find alternatives. I do the majority of my fundraising during the week, rather than on Sundays, and I’ve managed to raise funds successfully each year.

I wrote an article about how to better communicate which you can access here.

TREND #2 – Leverage Technology to Communicate Better

Most Catholic charities still run direct mail campaigns, distribute paper leaflets and speak at Sunday Masses. These methods are cumbersome, outdated and costly. Also, they produce tremendous waste as everything is printed, posted and filed somewhere in a room, never to be seen again.

However, with information technology, these tasks have become significantly easier to manage and cost next to nothing. Today, you can run an entire fundraising campaign without disrupting Mass or spending hundreds on mail or leaflets. With donor relationship management software, you can track and maintain all your donor relationships in real-time throughout the year. Instead of speaking to people who stare blankly at you from the pews, you can why not contact them individually via email and phone? It may take more time, but the results are exponentially better. You will find that people want to give when you sit down and explain what you are doing. The see your vision and want to support it.

In the past, waiting for someone to respond to a letter could take over a week. Now, you can organize meetings in a matter of minutes. Technology offers you the options and capacity to fundraise more quickly, while dramatically reducing your costs. And if you are worried whether this kind of software is expensive, it is not. Many companies offer reduced or free packages for charitable organizations.

TREND #3 – Individualize your Messages

I think this is the most significant trend. Before, fundraisers would send the same message to thousands of people. Now, with the help of technology, you can tailor your messages without spending the hours it used to take. You can personalize all your communications (letters, emails, phone calls, notices, appeals), offering a more intimate relationship with each of your donors and prospects.

You can also immediately identify your best prospects by a click of a button, allowing you then to organize one-to-one meetings that have the greatest potential of generating new donations. You don’t have to shout ‘donate’ from a pulpit to an audience in hopes that a few will give. Instead, you can focus your time connecting with people directly who are interested in hearing what you have to say.

[Tweet “You don’t have to shout ‘donate’ from a pulpit and disrupt Mass “]

By individualizing your messages, you can ask for donations to people most interested in giving. Then, with those people aren’t ready to give but would be interested in learning what you do, you can share what your organization does, potentially capturing their attention to donate in the future. And if someone is already giving, you can share how their money has made a difference, rather than asking them for more money.

Case Study – How I Leveraged These Trends

Let me illustrate one example of how I used these three trends recently. For some years, an organization hosted an event every other summer. Guests came to the event to hear the director provide a review of what had been achieved since they last met. She finished by thanking everyone for their support. The event was, for the most part, a formality with little opportunity to increase the fundraising revenue. They, like so many organizations, had the vision to grow but didn’t know how to ask people for money, and they were afraid to ask their current donors for more.

With my guidance, we implemented these three trends; change, technology, and individualization, throughout the year. We took extra care in how we communicated when we spoke to people and spent a lot more time listening to why they would consider.

When it came time to host the next event, 80 dedicated followers and donors attended, twice as many as the year before. From all the careful work we had done during the year, the event was now a catalyst for new donors and more donations. Even more, it provided enthusiasm and a spirit of collaboration, as everyone left that night excited about the future. The event raised $45,000 (a significant sum for the organization).

What’s more impressive is we didn’t disrupt the event by asking guests to complete a donation card or write a cheque during the event. Donations came after we communicated individually with each guest, asking if they’d enjoy speaking in more depth about our work and their support. Many agreed because our method was personal, unobtrusive and unique. They were delighted to meet us individually because they loved what we did, and they enjoyed the opportunity for an intimate conversation.


The demands to evangelize and bring Jesus Christ and His Catholic Church to people are as vibrant as ever. Yet, fundraising presents a major hurdle for most Catholic organizations, especially when they are starting out or trying to expand, because they don’t know how or they cannot afford the services of a fundraiser or fundraising firm.

I think tremendous opportunities await anyone who wants to leverage these three trends and overcome the challenges of fundraising.

By leveraging these ideas, the moment is ripe to look at fundraising with fresh eyes and make significant progress.

[Tweet “The moment is ripe to look at Catholic fundraising with fresh eyes and make significant progress”]

Discussion Question: What fundraising trend do you think is the most significant? (use comment box below to share your thoughts)


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Leap of Faith

How I pursued my vocation

I was anxiously sitting at my desk in London, tapping my pen on the table. It was the summer of 2012. The same year London hosted the Summer Olympics.

The view from my desk was like what you see on postcards. I had an unobstructed, panoramic view over the river Thames, Tower Bridge, and City Hall. And with the Olympics in town, all of London was buzzing with excitement, and I was in the middle.


I, however, was blankly staring at my computer screen. My mind was elsewhere. In five minutes, I was about to make the decision to leave my prominent and exciting career in consulting.

I was meeting with my boss to tell him I wanted to take a six-month sabbatical to work as a fundraiser for the Catholic Church. I thought I was taking a career break, a breather from the constant hustle of the professional world. I didn’t know then that I would never come back.

For my colleagues, the discussions were about their upcoming projects, promotions, and year-end bonuses. For me, I was thinking about my new job’s perks: reduced income, no window view, and no bonus. To top that off, I would be talking every day about religion while asking people for money. What a juxtaposition. In a sense, I saw myself leaving my lucrative career path to become a professional beggar.

I was nervous.

“What’s up, Brice? What do you want to talk about?” Andrew asked.

Andrew, my boss, was one of the partners responsible for leading my team of one hundred professionals. He had always been kind to me since my arrival two years earlier to the company and the United Kingdom. I am originally from the United States, and my career has taken me to San Francisco, Paris, the Middle East and then London.

As I said, I was leaving an exciting career.

“Brilliant, Andrew. Thanks for taking the time to speak with me.” Then the ball began to roll, and it’s never stopped.

Then the ball began to roll, and it’s never stopped.

As word spread that I was leaving, many of my colleagues congratulated me on my bold move. I even learned that some of my colleagues were Catholic. I probably would have never known if I hadn’t made the decision to leave.

“Aren’t you nervous about the future?” one colleague asked, concerned that I was committing career and financial suicide. He was right to ask because I did think, “what is going to happen?” I was anxious about the future, but I found consolation that everything would find its course. I just had to focus on today, not tomorrow.

There were days when I doubted myself

At the time, I was working on average 60 hours a week, with another 10 hours on some weekends. I would occasionally return home from work at 2 am. On top of the workload, I was attending night school two nights a week, as I was pursuing a Master’s Degree in Christian theology. Each week, I read 600-page theology textbooks, racked my brain with doctrine and theological concepts and wrote ten-page essays which were due every two months.

The pace was relentless.

Some days, when I was too overwhelmed, I would reach the tipping point and panic. I could barely move my body forward when I walked, and my mind was constantly entertaining thoughts of doubt and despair.

Other days, I just wanted to quit.

I remember one of these days quite vividly. I was in such a panic that after work I rushed to the Polish church next to my house for adoration. I fell to my knees and looked forcefully at the Eucharist, ready to just let out all my frustration and grill Jesus with questions.

As I stared directly into the Eucharist, a buzzing sound, like white noise or air-conditioning unit, filled the church. It was so prominent that everything and everyone around me was muted. I couldn’t even hear my own thoughts anymore. I then felt the Holy Spirit firmly grab me by the shoulders and then shake me, as if to snap me out of my dark mood. Then, words, as if through the buzzing sound, were spoken to me, “Calm down, Brice. Just calm down. Don’t worry. Be patient, and trust me. You’ll see. Trust me.”

So, I did.

I learned to let go and trust Christ

I arrived at the decision to leave my job after a year of discernment. I attended daily Mass, spoke to priests regularly and went on several retreats to a Benedictine monastery. I continually asked God what he wanted me to do, and I took the time to listen to him and journal what I thought he was saying to me.

Also, as I completed my master’s degree in Christianity at Heythrop, the Catholic college next to my house where both seminarians and religious study, I learned the foundations of my faith and spoke with others who inspired me to take this decision.

I discovered, in time, that I didn’t need all the answers to my questions. That’s God’s role. My role was to trust and walk in faith one step at a time.

[Tweet “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. – Hebrews 11:1″]

Gradually, as I walked in faith more, the leap stopped being as daunting as I kept imagining it to be.

“Look, I’m still alive,” I told myself. “I’m healthy, and I have a roof over my head.”

I settled into this new mindset and eventually found more answers. The most important answer I found was to the question, “What next?” The answer is always to trust Jesus, regardless of what I thought, felt or assumed, and be vigilant while moving forward.

If I hadn’t learned to do this, I wouldn’t have changed careers, started fundraising for Catholic organizations or launched this website, and you wouldn’t be reading these words.


Discussion Question: What has helped you the most to listen to God? (use the comment box below to share your thoughts)