End-of-year fundraising is on most Catholic causes and non-profits to-do lists this time of year. So I thought it would be a great time to share the advise a parish priest once gave to me. He had observed, after a few years as their priest, what inspired his parishioners not only to give but also not to give. He thought if he could only do more of what inspired them to give, then more parishioners would donate.
Year after year, he fine-tuned his process for end-of-year giving and was able to boost his weekly collection by 30%.
That’s really good, but when you read how he actually did it, it’s even more amazing.
Here is what one parish priest did:
Step 1 – Do not directly ask for money
This sounds like the exact opposite of what to do, wouldn’t you agree? That’s what I thought, too!
The priest decided not to ask his parishioners for donations for two reasons. First, he believed that people already gave what they could. People may not have as much extra money as we think they do.
Secondly, after putting himself in their position, he asked himself the bigger question, “Why would I contribute more if I had the sense that nothing more was being done?” He believed that one of the biggest reasons people were not giving was because they didn’t think it would make a difference. The last thing anyone wants is to donate funds and see nothing happen…
So the priest decided not to ask.
Instead, he went on being the best parish priest that he could be, which meant focusing on the parish mission and help his flock become saints.
Step 2 – Limit (or eradicate) non-essential spending
Continuing along with the approach that people won’t give unless they think their donation will actually make a difference, the priest cut out all non-essential spending so his parishioners would see how their current contributions were not being wasted.
In my experience, this is definitely a wise move. The Catholic causes that can demonstrate — not just talk about — how their funds are being used wisely will always raise the most funds.
I reviewed a fantastic book, Grateful and Giving, by Monsignor Thomas McGread, a priest in the Diocese of Wichita, Kansas which goes into even more detail on how parishes and Catholic non-profits should approach fundraising.
Monsignor Thomas McGread, a priest in the Diocese of Wichita, Kansas, is well known for his work across the United States in fundraising. He developed an approach called The Stewardship Model, which has helped parishes, dioceses, and national organizations (such as the United States Bishops Conference) raise millions of dollars. You could say he’s the #1 ranked priest in the United States when it comes to how to fundraise for the Catholic Church. #Catholic #catholics #catholichurch #vatican #saint #pope #popefrancis #catholicmemes #catholicmom #sacredscripture #tridentinemass #holytrinity #lifeofacatholic #Catholicfaith #catholicfamily #jesus #FaithfulRomanCatholic #mothermary #catholicrosary #holyfamily #catholicfaith #catholiclife #saint #saints #sacredscripture #jesuschrist #rosary #catholicrosary
Step 3. Encouraged people with little things
Having demonstrated how he could save his parish more money,, the priest made every effort to use their money more efficiently, and in ways that made a visible difference..
He focused on using their contributions in ways that earmarked clear and visible progress, even if it was as simple or mundane as new Christmas decorations or vestments.
Here is an article that I wrote which lists seven steps you can take to inspire people to donate, without asking directly.
Step 4 – Give regular updates on how things were going
Almost every week, the priest gave his parishioners an update on what work had been done and how much it had cost. By doing so, they felt included in the decisions and could see that he was being transparent.
Just as importantly, he would frequently speak about the state of the parish finances on Sundays and explicitly state that he was not asking them to contribute more.
Parishioners were automatically moved by his openness and commitment to do all that he could with the current level of donations. It also moved them to give more.
Here is an article that I wrote about the key actions a leadership team of a Catholic cause must take to ensure transparency and commitment.