Asking by the Rules: Canon 1262 and You

Following the Rules - Code of Canon Law and Fundraising

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

Brice Sokolowski Catholic Fundraiser

NOTICE: Have you checked to confirm that you’re allowed to run a fundraising campaign for your Catholic charity, religious order, cause, or parish?

Catholic bishops, particularly in the US, have strict guidelines about who can run a campaign. Meaning, you may have to stop before you even consider starting to fundraise.

When it comes to fundraising, we all want to follow the right protocol to make sure that people (especially bishops) understand that the money raised is going to a great cause.

Canon Law 1262 notifies Catholics that they are to give support to Catholic appeals; it also states how Catholic entities are allowed to ask for that support:

Can. 1262 – The faithful are to give support to the Church by responding to appeals and according to the norms issued by the conference of bishops.

However, this decree doesn’t apply to everyone. We all have come across causes that call themselves Catholic but, if you look carefully, they are, in fact, not. Rather, they use the label to attract the attention of Catholics but — intentionally or not — distort Church teaching and use the funds raised towards unorthodox views.

The 3 Hacks to Successful Fundraising in the Catholic Church

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

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

Brice Sokolowski Catholic Fundraiser

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

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

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

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

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

Want to listen on the go? Check out the audio version of this article.

Raising your commitment to your cause

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

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

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

Hack #1. Improve your fundraising skills

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

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

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

Hack #2. Get a fundraising coach

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

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

Hack #3. Work on it every day

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

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

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

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

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

Here are your next steps

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

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

Brice Sokolowski Catholic Fundraiser

Ascension Roundtable: Do’s and Don’ts of Catholic Fundraising

I just did an interview with Ascension Press on their podcast, Ascension Roundtable.

You may be familiar with their other podcasts: Fr Mike Schmitz video series and the Jeff Cavins Show.

Anyways, I was just sharing my story of how I teach Catholics how to start and grow Catholic apostolates, and I’ve been doing it for over five years.

They asked me how I stayed on top of the game… how I stayed on the cutting edge of fundraising while holding to Catholic values.


It’s an interesting question.

And the answer is all about my “dream list”.

Now I know that sounds like some hype term – but it’s not.

It’s a real thing, and I’ve used that “dream list” for three years now. And it’s made a huge impact on my fundraising.

In fact, it’s actually transformed the entire approach to fundraising for Catholics. You can learn more about how to build your own dream list by reading this article.

It’s a strange story, unlike anything else in the fundraising world. I tell the rest of the story in the interview.

Stay blessed,


P.S. I need to come up with something else to call it besides “dream list”… but sometimes when the sandal fits, you should just go ahead and wear it.

Question: What’s your biggest struggle with fundraising in a Catholic context?

How to raise 1 billion dollars for Catholic charities

This week I am in Bratislava speaking at a fundraising conference by Caritas Internationalis, the Vatican’s arm of charitable work and responsible for raising $1 billion in donations per year.

That’s one BILLON; otherwise known as a lot of money.

I’m offering six workshops on how to fundraise better which I want to share with you. You will find this information incredibly useful because you get behind the scenes with us on how to improve your fundraising in today’s 21st-century landscape.

The majority of Catholic dioceses, parishes, religious orders, charities, schools and lay apostolates still depend on out-dated tactics such as direct mail, church appeals, external consultants, and event fundraising. All of these methods require lots of time to prepare, lots of money, and, most importantly, deviate your focus from the mission.

Thankfully the world of fundraising has moved on from these old, rusted ways, and what’s even better, we have more opportunities to ask for money in a more Catholic way.

However, are you still in the old or moving into the new?

Get VIP access to all the presentations

The focus of my workshops is to show how you can fundraise in today’s landscape without spending lots of time, effort, and money. Plus, I base my approach on two main sources: Catholic Social Teaching and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

This way you stay focused on what you want to do: your mission, which is to save lives and souls.

I am giving private access to the presentations ONLY to those people who subscribe to my website.

So, if you want access to what Caritas is doing to raise $1 billion dollars and learn how you can use these same methods, subscribe today by clicking here.

These presentations and information are available only to those people who act today. If you read this and it’s past June 22nd, I’m sorry. You missed out. I won’t be giving this opportunity again.

Six fundraising workshops that will improve how you fundraise

Below I’ve listed the six different topics that I cover.

Workshop 1: How to Leverage Change in Fundraising

I explain how fundraising has dramatically changed in the past five years, and these changes benefit Catholic organizations. I take about how you can leverage technology to reach more people.

I also talk about how you can become more authentic in your approach which will automatically attract more people to donate.

Workshop 2: Keeping Prayer at the Center of Fundraising

Prayer is not a topic most fundraisers discuss, other than asking people to pray that the campaign raises money. I explain why prayer is the fundamental part of your fundraising.

Without it, you will struggle because you are forgetting the divine aspect of your work.

Workshop 3: How to Build a Fundraising Plan

Most campaigns don’t reach their targets because they don’t have a plan. The key to long-term success is to have a plan which outlines what you do, when you do it, and how to improve along the way.

I talk about the measurements and actions you have to take to make this happen and keep you on track.

Workshop 4: The Fundraising Mindset

Fundraising is stressful, and it’s likely something you didn’t imagine yourself doing. I explain how to stay motivated, how to engage with your team, how to stay positive, and how to keep going when things get tough.

Workshop 5: The 10 Habits of a Great Catholic Fundraiser

Like the spiritual life, we have to follow daily habits to keep us on the straight and narrow. I give my top 10 habits along with helpful tools to keep you going and adjust when things get tough.

Workshop 6: How to Attract Donors

What does it take to get Catholics to donate to you? I explain what works and doesn’t work. In fact, I outline the seven things you can do which will guarantee you more donors. I also explain how to become the next iconic charity.

Get access to all six presentations by subscribing today

To get access to these presentations and content, make sure to subscribe today by clicking here. This opportunity will only happen once, and once the opportunity has passed, the presentations and content on how to fundraising like Caritas (which raises $1 billion a year) will no longer be made available.

How a Catholic American is thriving in Secular France

I was recently on the Jennifer Fulwiler show to talk about my book, Alms: Your Definitive Guide to the Ins and Outs of Catholic fundraising.

To get a free copy of the book, jump to this page. (Warning: there is a LIMITED supply. So, first come, first serve.)

However, we spent most of the time talking about my experience as a Catholic American living in France. (I didn’t mind the detour because my extraordinary life is all thanks to having faith in God that writing this book was necessary.)

More than likely, if you don’t live in Europe, you may think France is predominantly secular and rapidly losing its Catholic heritage and culture.

Well, I’m happy to say that it’s not entirely accurate.

Catholicism is pressing forward and battling the countless heresies (secularism, relativism, modernism) we face.

And through my work of helping Catholic charities, parishes, dioceses, religious orders, and lay apostolates, I see first hand the good news stories of how Catholicism is still alive.

Here are four examples of how I am living a Catholic life deep in the heart of France.

1. I’m surrounded by Catholicism

I don’t need to jump in a car and drive 30 minutes to find something Catholic. Every morning, noon, and evening, the 15th-century church next door to my home rings the Angelus bells. The call to prayer is sounded throughout the village.

Also, I don’t even need a car to get to Mass or visit a chapel. I can walk within 15-minutes to about seven chapels and churches from my home.

#provencefrance passed Notre Dame de la Brume on my bike ride today

A post shared by Brice So-ko-low-ski (@bricesokolowski) on

In fact, I don’t own a car. Everything I need to live is within a .2 mile radius. That includes the grocery store, supermarket, baker, car shop, dry cleaner, and restaurants.

I also personally know the four priests of my village who organize a parish event most weekend. This weekend, I am traveling 30 minutes (this is far for me!) to the Cistercian Abbey of Senanque.

And a little over an hour from my home is the spectacular Basilica of Saint Marie-Madeleine which holds the relics of Mary Magdalene.

2. I’m surrounded by monasteries and convents

I already mentioned the Cistercian Abbey of Senanque. Though within a 30-minute radius of my home, I can visit eight religious monastic communities. Most of them are full of young religious, too.

I love where I live because in between work meetings I get to do sightseeing. #lovelife #hustle #vaucluse #provence

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The Cistercian Abbaye Notre-Dame de Bon-Secours:

Carmelite Retreat Center, Notre Dame de Vie:

Cistercian Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque:

Benedictine Abbaye Sainte-Madeleine du Barroux:

Benedictine Abbaye Abbaye Notre-Dame de l’Annonciation: see the Barroux’s website

Monastère des Redemptoristines:

Clarists of Montfavet:

Norbertine Canon Regulars of St-Michel de Frigolet:

3. My day-to-day allows me time to have a spiritual life

When I worked in the corporate world, I would be working 60 hours a week, coming home late most evenings, and sometimes working on the weekends.

Today, I am not stressed by the constant demands of our modern culture to push, push, and push some more.

I’ve chosen a balanced life and benefited greatly from it. Yes, I’ve given up a few perks, but I’ve gained so many others. I have more time for daily meditation, spiritual reading, weekday Mass, and adoration.

Nature also surrounds me. With minutes, I can walk through vineyard fields and pray my rosary.

I can also connect frequently with religious people, giving me, even more, nourishment for my mind, body, and soul.

4. I can pursue my vocation 24/7 to help Catholics fundraise

I travel the world from where I live to help Catholics fundraise better so they can do more of what they do best: save lives and souls.

Next week I am going to Vienna for a fundraising conference with Caritas Internationalis, the Vatican’s charitable arm that is active in 44 countries. Caritas raises of $1 billion dollars a year to fund its charitable activities.

And two weeks later, I travel to Rome to prepare for a fundraising conference/pilgrimage later this year.

I highly recommend attending this pilgrimage/conference if you are a fundraiser for a Catholic diocese, parish, charity, religious order, or lay apostolate. You can learn more at this link:

The benefits of pursuing your vocation

I’m blessed to be an American living in France because, as St Theresa of Lisieux says, “confidence and nothing but confidence leads us to Love.” I didn’t know things would end up like this, but I had confidence God would take care of me.

You could call “confidence” faith, which is one of St Theresa’s key ingredients to her Little Way.

I’ve had my ups and downs, with my confidence and faith dwindling at times, but I’ve offered this to Jesus, and he’s helped me persevere to today.

Question: How is God blessing you today?

Alms Book Fundraising

Why Catholics Don’t Give… And What Can Be Done About It

Ever wonder why Catholics don’t give to you? There’s a book that answers this question. Why Catholics Don’t Give… And What Can Be Done About it by Charles Zech is a must read for any Catholic fundraiser. Published by Our Sunday Visitor, the book was commissioned specifically to understand the giving landscape of the Catholic Church in the United States.

A religious nun recommended that I read this book, and I am so happy that she did. The chapters are a gold mine for understanding what works and what doesn’t.

Charles Zech offers an analysis of every situation, including planned giving, capital campaigns, religious order giving, and even generational differences. From the data he collected, he offers practical steps for how to successfully fundraising in a Catholic context.

As a result, you have a fact-based foundation for achieving your fundraising goals.

Alms Book Fundraising

Things that you thought were important (average parishioner income and parish size) are not, and things you thought were not important (prayer groups and community) are vital to the success of a fundraising campaign.

You will also be amazed at how simple the recommendations are which are also backed up by research. I recommend you purchase a copy today and read it cover to cover.

10 lessons from Why Catholics Don’t Give… And What Can Be Done About it

Here is my list my top-ten lessons from the book.

Focus on community. People don’t give when there is a decline of community and confusion about purpose. Therefore, concentrate on building community and clarifying your purpose. Donations always follow.

Build your community. Whatever approach you take to raising funds, you should be aware that community building must begin. It’s a continuous undertaking that never ends.

Allow for feedback. Give people opportunities to be consulted and have direct input into the decision-making process. They want open discussions, transparency, and accountability in decisions.

Go beyond the money. Stewardship (and fundraising) must go beyond raising funds. You must maintain the highest standards of integrity and honesty in all matters, allowing people to see that you steward everything (not just money) around you.

Minimize the use of volunteers. If you want to develop the time and talent portions of giving, it is important to impress on people that the time and talent that they do contribute should be viewed as ministry, not merely as volunteer activity

Institute pledging. Those who make a financial commitment through pledges contribute more. Pledging works and people who pledge are better givers. Online giving is a great form of pledging.

Meet the needs of your supporters. Catholics have failed to learn the joy of giving because most Catholic institutions fail to assist them in the conversion of their minds and hearts. When you respond to the needs of your supporters and followers, giving goes up.

Offer Estate Planning as an option. Remind donors that contributing through estate planning is good stewardship. Remind your donors occasionally the possibility of doing this.

Fundraising is what we do; stewardship is who we are. Fundraising is one-dimensional, often focused on the checkbook, while stewardship invites us to change our hearts. Fundraising typically occurs annually, while stewardship is an ongoing commitment.

Start a prayer or study group. Of all the parish programs and activities you can offer, the sponsorship of prayer or study groups at church significantly affected contributions.

Discussion question: Do you see any of these lessons active in your fundraising? What could you do to address them? [Please do share your thoughts below.]



Why Catholics are Terrible At Fundraising (And What to Do About it)

I’ve been fundraising for Catholic organizations for several years now, and I have been blessed to meet so many incredible Catholics who work and volunteer for them.

Why Catholics are Terrible at Fundraising

Most Catholics get involved because they want to make a difference. They want to help a cause that is bigger than them. They love their Catholic faith and are passionate about helping others. I am delighted to meet so many of these people, as they motivate me to keep helping Catholics raise money to do extraordinary things.

However, when they come to me for assistance, I find their challenges with fundraising usually revolve around one key issue: Catholics find it difficult to explain concisely and clearly what they do. This challenge is not unique to appeals either.

It’s important that you can explain your mission even before you ask for donations. Therefore, to improve your fundraising, I recommend you do the following five steps:

  1. Know how exactly how to articulate what you do (in one to two sentences).
  2. Share what you do with other Catholics (without asking for money)
  3. Provide opportunities for Catholics to learn what you do
  4. Regularly share stories of how you are succeeding in your work
  5. Build relationships with people (especially your donors)

The biggest roadblocks in fundraising aren’t about asking for money because it goes beyond asking people for donations. Yes, you heard me. Fundraising is about connecting with people and inspiring them to give.

If you can connect with them, you can inspire them. And, if they are inspired, they will donate.

Discussion Question: How can you tell your charity’s story better to the people around you? (Please leave a comment below)



Why is my pastor always asking me for money?

All of us have heard this question and may even have voiced it ourselves. There are at least three reasons why pastors ask the people at Mass for their participation and their stewardship.

why is my pastor always asking me for money?

Reason #1 – Funds are required to support activities

The first reason is that the Church is like any other active organization, and needs funds to carry out the Mission of the Church. Unlike some other organizations, it is a non-profit and relies on volunteers and donations/gifts.

Reason #2 – Asking people also informs them of activities

The second is that the process of asking gives the pastor an opportunity to inform the people about the parish’s ministries and services, the needs and services of the Diocese, and the needs of the universal Church.

Reason #3 – Provides people an opportunity to participate

The third reason is that it provides the people opportunities to participate and to exercise their own stewardship.

What does the Church do with all that money?

Today, a large percentage of people (particularly in the U.S.A.) receive their medical care at a Catholic hospital. The Church teaches 3 million students a day in its
– 250+ Catholic Colleges and Universities
– 1200+ Catholic high schools
– 5000+ Catholic grade schools.

Every day, the Church feeds, clothes, shelters and educates more people than probably any other organization in the world.

The Church itself is very large; over 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide. It requires funds for its sustenance and to continue its broad array of ministry and services, here in the Diocese of Santa Rosa, throughout the United States, and around the world.

What many of us don’t pause to consider or realize is that the money to fund all these works of the Church must come from the faithful in the parishes, and the pastor must be the one who makes the request. The most opportune time and place to make those requests are at Mass on Sunday.

Our service goes beyond our parish to serve the Church

Our pastors, men who were drawn to their calling, their vocation, by their desire to serve God and God’s people, are the administrators of parishes, missions, schools and other activities.

We ask our faithful to fund the parish and the universal Church on an “as-required” basis, and it is the pastor who is most often called upon to make the request.

Pastors must ask for money to meet the needs of:
– The parish
– The school if the parish has one (typically, the “first” collection)
– The community projects such as homeless services, food kitchens, clothing drives, etc., and to meet the needs of the diocese (e.g., the Annual Ministry Appeal).

Parishes hold regular second collections for the special needs of the parish such as a building fund to maintain the physical property, for the St. Vincent de Paul Society that provides parish outreach to the less fortunate, or to support the activities of a school.

In addition to the Annual Ministry Appeal, the bishops of our country, as a group, ask every diocese and parish to support a list of 12 special collections each year.

When large tragedies strike anywhere in the world (e.g., an earthquake in Chile, a typhoon in the Philippines, a famine in Africa, or a fire in Lake County) we take up special collections to help meet the needs in the stricken area. Infrequently, we allow some other deserving group to ask our parishioners for help, and often, the pastor makes the request for that outside group.

Donor fatigue is a reality. So is priest fatigue!

Those of us who are parishioners can feel “donor fatigue.” We are tired of giving, and we are tired of being asked to give. We, unfortunately, focus our discontent on the pastor who makes these requests.

We think he asks too often and for too much. Often, we do not think about it from the pastor’s perspective – a man who suffers from “asking fatigue.” They are more tired of asking than we are being asked.

Our shared responsibility as Catholics in a Universal Church

In the final analysis, this process is a shared responsibility. The pastor must ask because, in addition to his other responsibilities, he is the administrator of the temporal activities of the parish. We should respond as our capability allows because our baptism calls us to be disciples of Christ, and one responsibility of a disciple is to act as good stewards of all the gifts God has entrusted to us.

The next time our pastor asks us for a donation, let’s consider what has been outlined above and give thanks to God that we have a leader who is willing to encourage us in the stewardship of our parish community. Maybe such consideration will also encourage us to be even more generous as we respond to the requests!

The article was written by Deacon John Norris from the Diocese of Santa Rosa, California. He is the Diocesan Director of Development. You can contact Deacon John via email at

Question: What do you think about how often your pastor asks for money?


5 Important Steps to Getting Your Board, Volunteers, Colleagues Involved with Fundraising

How to get your board involved with fundraising? I regularly conduct fundraising workshops for Catholic charities. One subject people often asked about is regarding who does what when raising money. In particular, Catholics are interested in how to involve their board, colleagues, and, most importantly, their armies of volunteers.

These are important questions because you cannot fundraise alone. If you leave the fundraiser (development director, etc.) in a corner to do everything by herself, your Catholic organization has dramatically fewer opportunities to raise funds. This is true about your current and long-term situations.

You cannot fundraise alone. This is why dioceses and large charities spend thousands, if not millions, on external fundraising firms. They know that they require help to move their objectives forward. You, however, don’t need to spend massive amounts of money to get the same help.

I will outline in precise detail who does what right here.

Here are my five recommended first steps to get people involved with fundraising.

Step 1 – Plant seeds before asking for money

Fundraising is about planting seeds, watering them, and allowing them to grow over time. One of my favorite verses in the New Testament to reference when talking about fundraising is 1 Corinthians 3:6, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God caused the growth.”

With this phrase, Saint Paul provides us the foundational block for taking our first step with fundraising.

Just imagine the enormous task God placed before him. He understood that to be successful, he first had to plant seeds: initial conversations with people about his work. Then, he gathered a group of helpers to develop those conversations into relationships. Third, Paul and his colleagues let God do the rest.

Fast forward 2,000 years, and we know the results of Paul’s approach. Therefore, I recommend you take the same path.

Also, your first conversations with people don’t have to be about donating. That is likely too much of a hurdle for most people. Start small by sharing with them your vision. In the same chapter, Paul writes, “I fed you milk, not solid food because you were unable to take it.” – 1 Corinthians 3:2

Last, make sure you have a team of helpers that help build those initial conversations into meaningful relationships. This means not asking your helpers to raise money. Focus instead on the person: who are they? What inspires them? How do they want to get involved?

You can learn more about planting seeds in this blog: How planting seeds increases donors ten fold

Step 2 – Get the right people, not lots of people, to help you

You don’t need a lot of people helping you either. Just a core group of volunteers help you build relationships each day will do wonders. It’s not a numbers game. There is not a direct connection in how many people help you to how much money you raise.

Often, more people helping you fundraise will have the opposite effect. It becomes more management than you initially wanted it to be. You will likely be more stressed from constantly checking who has done what or not done.

Also, when too many people are involved, people start assuming that if they don’t finish their tasks, someone else will fill in. Therefore, having an army of people (or volunteers) involved in fundraising won’t help you reach your target. Better to have a few committed people working closely together with you.

Step 3 – Avoid recruiting people who live ‘busy’ lives

I recommend that you be selective with who helps you. Rather than sending a blanket request and accept anyone who responds, I find a selective approach to be more beneficial. Why? Some people assume that, because they are a volunteer, they won’t have to do much (or not even follow through).

It’s just the unfortunate circumstance of our modern age. People are busy. I dislike this word. When someone uses this word, I think it means that they are overstretching their responsibilities rather than admitting they don’t have as much time as they thought. They don’t focus their time and energy. As a result, they burn themselves out along with them people around them.

And, when it comes to charitable work, many people see volunteering as something done on the side. It’s an add-on to all their other activities (particularly family and work). Therefore, if they are living busy lives, when that moment comes where they hit a wall and cannot juggle all the responsibilities, volunteering tends to be one of the first activities to be cut. This means you and your Catholic organization.

Therefore, I suggest you keep an eye out for people who are diligent and consistently willing to complete tasks. This is especially true when it comes time to recruit new board members. You don’t have to ask for people’s resumes and interview them. Instead, you learn who will be a good fit just by getting to know them. If they stay committed to finishing tasks, it’s a good sign they will be a great board member.

You can read more about board involvement in this blog post: 3 Qualities Leaders Must Have to Boost Fundraising

Step 4 – Define specific tasks for specific people

I also recommend you designate roles and responsibilities. This means certain people do certain tasks. This also means certain people do not do certain tasks.

I have found that everyone has specific talents, as the parable reminds us. (Matthew 25:14–30) It’s our responsibility as fundraisers to assign tasks to people who have the talents to complete them. Some people are better at asking for donations, while others are better at spreading the word (planting seeds).

Check out this boast on overcoming your fear of asking for donations: How to Embrace Your Fears When Fundraising

Step 5 – Keep a list of key roles and responsibilities

My best fundraising campaigns happen when I keep track of the people, their roles, and their responsibilities.

These roles include:

  1. You, the fundraiser, and your team – you are responsible for managing all aspects
  2. Your board members – involved in approving how fundraising operates but also partake in the asking
  3. Your leadership team – involved in all aspects, includes asking
  4. Your colleagues – have specific tasks, doesn’t always include asking
  5. Volunteers – have specific tasks in spreading key messages, rarely includes asking
  6. Clergy – they must be active in the entire fundraising process (even asking and giving)

In the next chapter, I will explain in further detail what each group does and why.

As you notice from the list, not everyone is asking for money. However, the decision of who does and does not ask goes beyond comfort levels. Having the talent to ask for donations should be a prerequisite for any leadership position in your Catholic organization. Having a talent doesn’t always mean it is easy to use. Sometimes, the activities we are best at are the ones we also find most challenging yet fulfilling.

Question: What other steps have you used to get people involved in your fundraising campaigns? You can leave a comment below.



5 steps from Fr Marcus on how to restore your church or parish

I recently visited Fr. Marcus Holden, rector of the shrine of St Augustine of Canterbury in Ramsgate, England to learn how he restored the church and reclaimed its prominence as both a historical and religious shrine.

When Fr Marcus arrived in 2010, he found the church in poor condition. Many Catholics in Ramsgate, including local members of the Pugin Society, had kept an eye on it, yet the years of not being actively maintained brought the church to the verge of closure.


Fast forward to today, Fr. Marcus and John Coverdale, the shrine’s Centre Manager, have transformed the site. Augustus Pugin’s church of St Augustine in Ramsgate, a shrine since 2012 (Pugin’s 200th birthday), is now the official landmark for celebrating the arrival of St Augustine of Canterbury from Rome to bring the Gospel to the Anglo-Saxons.

Note: Yes, this is Augustus Pugin. The famous English architect who designed the Palace of Westminster, Big Ben, and many churches across England.

Inspired by all that Fr Marcus had done, I asked, ‘how did you accomplish all of this?’ I’m a fundraiser who helps Catholic organizations fundraise, and I wanted to learn the steps he took to restore not only the shrine’s infrastructure, but also how he renewed its historical, cultural, and artistic appeal.

Fr Marcus identified five steps in particular.

Step 1: Define the vision

Fr. Marcus highlighted the importance of having a clear mission before starting a major project.

His vision was not simply to restore the church and build a shrine. Rather, the focus was much more than rebuilding bricks and mortar. He wanted to bring Saint Augustine, Augustus Pugin, and Catholicism prominently back into the limelight of the Ramsgate community and, more widely, England.

Fr Marcus thinks that if he had started with the physical restoration, he would not have achieved all that he did in such a short amount of time.

And by focusing on the bigger picture, he inspired others around him to help make the project reality, thereby fast-tracking the restoration of the infrastructure.

I provide a simple workbook to help you outline your vision here:

Step 2: Gather a community

Fr. Marcus knew that big projects are not accomplished alone. To bring his vision into reality, he sought the involvement of the local Catholic community. Their involvement would inspire them to see their church restored as a place of religious, architectural and historic importance.

He did this by hosting two major events at the shrine which celebrated its two main characters: Saint Augustine and Augustus Pugin.

Augustine Week would celebrate the saint’s life, the traditions of the Church and the historical importance of Catholicism in England. The second major event was Pugin Week which would celebrate Augustus Pugin’s life, his influence on English architecture, art, and design.

Each year, attendance at these two events increased, allowing Fr Marcus to gradually gain more and more of people’s attention and financial support to restore the shrine. With the people now participating again in the life of the shrine, Fr. Marcus could then move forward with his next phase.

You can get help gathering your community with this workbook:

Step 3: Restoring the bricks and mortar

Understanding that the work was too ambitious to complete all at once, Fr. Marcus devised a three-step plan for restoring the shrine’s original luster. This would allow the shrine to remain open throughout the work.


His plan at hand, Fr Marcus applied for a grant from the English Heritage. Instead of highlighting the need to restore a shrine of tremendous value to the Catholic heritage of English, he focused his request on the English Heritage’s funding priorities; restoring the shrine both structurally and architecturally to preserve it for future generations. Because his application matched their grant-making ethos, he was awarded £700,000.

This grant was another tremendous win for Fr. Marcus. He now had a vision, a growing community of supporters, a plan for restoring the shrine and money to undergo the restoration.

You can use this 10-step guide for writing a grant:

Step 4: Opening the doors to the country

With the restoration of the shrine nearly complete, Fr Marcus and John set out to attract an even bigger audience. This would make Fr Marcus’s dream of sharing the story of the shrine across England a reality.

To accomplish this, an Education, Research and Visitor Centre would be erected. It would be a place where visitors from all across the country, both Catholic and non-Catholic, can experience the heritage, architecture, traditions and art of the shrine.


They applied for funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Knowing that the trustees liked projects which focused on community as much as heritage, Fr Marcus and John structured their grant into three parts; the heritage of both St. Augustine and Augustus Pugin, the local community and volunteers, and the wider, national community. The Heritage Lottery Fund liked their approach and approved their proposal with a grant of £800,000. Additionally, they received another grant from the English Heritage for £1m.

Fr. Marcus reiterated the importance of considering the grantmaker’s objectives when writing a grant. While his focus was to share the Catholic heritage of the shrine with more people, he understood this perspective likely wouldn’t make for a successful grant. He, therefore, shared his vision and plan in words they would understand.

To take your fundraising to the next level, check out this guide on how to fine tune your plan:

Step 5 – Sustainability

Fr. Marcus is currently in the final phase of his restoration project, looking to sustain the shrine for the long-term so future generations may enjoy it. To do so, he stays focused on the same steps: clarity of vision, form a community of followers, plan a feasible restoration timeline and then execute each day.

He is already off to a great start as he increases the number of Catholic pilgrims to the shrine each year.
At present, he welcomes more than 10,000 visitors, and this number also increases each year. Fr Marcus aims to welcome more than 20,000 visitors annually by 2020.

He also wants to increase the number of non-Catholic visitors by partnering with prominent museums across England and organizing exhibits at the shrine. By collaborating with museums, he can use leverage their large audiences to attract even more people to the shrine. As more people visit, he hopes to continue sharing with people how the shrine and Catholicism have inspired English culture.

You can read this article to learn how to leverage the internet and social media to 10x your visitors (online and offline).

Conclusion – How can you apply this to your fundraising goals

Fr Marcus has been successful in fundraising because he focused on his vision and attracted people to all the different elements of St Augustine’s Shrine. By not focusing on the money or the physical restoration, he could bring people along in helping him to achieve his goals.

More so, he has demonstrated how beauty and holiness are important evangelists. His passion and perseverance to share the story of the shrine and proclaim Britain’s Roman Catholic roots are bearing fruit, as Christ explains to us the meaning of the parable of the sower.

I hope that Fr. Marcus’s success will inspire and guide you, whether you are a Catholic parish, religious order, or lay organization, as you seek to accomplish your mission of proclaiming the Gospel.

You can learn more about the shrine by visiting the official website: