Getting Your Online Presence Right

A Catholic Guide to using the internet in your 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

To be seen by Catholics, you need to share your mission and tell them what you are doing. But traveling from one parish and another is not enough. You must spread your reach by using digital platforms, and I can convince you for one simple reason: you will find the majority of your donors here.

When I started fundraising, every single prospect and current donor that I met was asking me to connect with them through the internet. I quickly discovered that my initial approach to go from parish to parish was the least efficient use of my time. That’s not to say you should never get out and meet people, but I had to maximize my full potential of telling my charity’s story and finding donors.

I desperatedly needed to find a better approach because our costs were mounting and more donations had to come, soon.

That’s when I turned more of my attention to the internet. But I didn’t just put a donate button on my homepage. That would not be enough. Instead, I had a genius moment. I understood that everyone I was asking to be a donor was connected daily to the internet, had two to three email addresses, and was frequently checking their multiple social profiles. In fact, most everyone I knew was always online, especially with the prevalent smartphone. The big question I was now asking myself was, “How do I share my charity’s story online with people and ask for donations?”

I discovered that building a digital presence rests on four key propositions. Here are the pillars that will build a clear picture for any Catholic agency.

1. Start with a positive view of having an online presence

To get more donors and donations, and without me running around, I had to ask the right question about building my online presence. I used to ask myself the question, “Should I be on all these digital platforms?” I quickly changed my thinking and asked myself a much more helpful question, “Which platforms should I spend use to connect with the right people who will support my mission?”

This was the turning point for me. I went from being overwhelmed with all the options to being more focused on what mattered most: sharing my story and capturing enough attention from people to ask for donations.

You more than likely have a few doubts and worries about the internet. Yes, there are some issues, especially when it comes to distracting us from our lives and responsibilities; however, we must remember that past generations also worried about the television and radio. Both definitely offer a lot of negatives but also positives. Look at how EWTN, Catholic Answers, and Ascension Presents, to name just a few Catholic agencies, have used these technologies to spread the faith to millions of people.

You can too by being having a positive perspective. Your online platform will help you stay focused on your mission and, by managing it correctly, not overwhelm your time and energy in front of a screen.

2 – Select only what you can handle

As I mentioned, the focus must be on identifying which digital platforms are best suited for telling the story of your mission. We must remember that Catholics only donate after you’ve gotten their attention and trust. To get them as passionate about your mission as you are, I recommend maximizing your time rather than trying to maximize the number of social profiles you have.

The goal is not to spend hours on social media. Let’s face it; you have better things to do: saving lives and souls.

Therefore, my suggestion is to select three digital spaces that maximize the spreading of your mission and the sharing of your story. You might be able to only handle one at the moment. That’s perfectly fine. The important step is to start with one and to do it well. What do I mean by that? It means engaging with people through your online presence. If you are on Facebook, you can’t just post a picture every other week and hope people like it. The objective is not to get 5, 10, or even 100 likes. It’s about connecting with people through the story of your mission. To do so, I recommend taking the time to learn and develop how you do this better each week.

The old adage is always true, “Practice makes perfect.” Or as the Catechism teaches,

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

3 – Use the online platforms that fit your mission

Next, I suggest you select three to four platforms and spend your time and energy working with them. To get you started, I have three recommendations which will move you quickly forward. Two in my view are mandatory, and the third depends on the nature of your mission.

  1. Your Website – You must have a website because you own your website. Every social media platform can disappear tomorrow. The internet and website, however, will not. You want to safeguard your digital presence on the internet, along with your content. A website keeps you secure and directs people to a place they can always find you. I talk extensively how to build a fantastic Catholic website in this article which you can read by clicking here.
  2. Your Email List – You must remember that every donation comes from the hands of someone. And for someone to donate to you, you must get their attention and build their trust. Email is a fantastic medium for doing this because it’s personal and private. Plus, it’s the most cost-effective way of communicating with flocks of people because everyone checks their email. While email looks old-fashioned, it’s still the best way to engage in a one on one conversation with someone. Email isn’t going anywhere. It’s as prevalent as letters. I offer a practical approach on how to use email to better communicate with your donors and prospects in an article which you can read by clicking here.
  3. Pick a Social Profile – Select one to two social platforms that tell your story the best. If you share your story through photos, choose either Instagram on Pinterest. If by facts and articles, select Twitter. If by video, use YouTube. If you use a mix of articles, blogs, photos, and short videos, Facebook may work best for you. If you can share your story through audio, consider using Soundcloud, Stitcher or iTunes.

4. Have your followers and donors do the work for you

Finally, I don’t recommend you be on every social platform. By doing so, you spread yourself thin and lose steam. Your mission and fundraising will suffer when this happens.

I want to reiterate that you have to focus on sharing your mission, every day, every week, every month, every year. To do so, you must spread your story in the best way possible over the long run, not short. It’s more important to share stories with those who enjoy hearing from you, rather than trying to be seen everywhere by everyone.

This means it is more important to go deep into the relationships you develop online. Rather than trying to rack up as many likes, followers, and subscribers as possible, engage with their comments, thank them for their shares and likes, and respond to their emails. Numbers don’t matter.

If you do a great job with the people who are connected with you, I guarantee more will people come. God is continually placing people in your life. Focus on the few and allow God to multiply them.

‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.’ – Matthew 25:21

Question: Which digital platforms will you be using to spread the message of your work and attract donors? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Brice Sokolowski Catholic Fundraiser

Brice was born and raised Catholic. After enjoying a successful career in technology consulting with Accenture and PriceWaterhouseCoopers in cities across the United States (Dallas, San Francisco, Paris, Abu Dhabi, and London) around the world, he left it to help his Catholic diocese in London, England with a fundraising campaign. The campaign went on to raise over $60 million, the largest sum ever raised for the diocese and in the United Kingdom.

Learning from professional fundraisers, he figured out the basics and then left the diocese to focus on what he loves most: building Catholic charities that change the culture, save lives, and save souls.

Brice currently lives in Texas and travels the world helping Catholics fundraise. This website is where he shares what he is doing and how he is raising funds for Catholic causes and missions. That way you can move more quickly with your next appeal.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.