How Saint John Vianney started his fundraising

Three practical fundraising tips from the life of Saint John Vianney

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.
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Read-10-Commandments-to-Catholic-Fundraising.png

Good fundraising isn’t about shouting from the rooftops about why people should donate to your cause.

It starts with focusing on what matters most (God), keeping your eyes open, and inspiring your community to become more holy.

Take, for example, Saint John Vianney. He began his priestly ministry with a rundown parish, empty pews, and very few financial resources.

You could say he started with nothing…

This week’s article is all about how Saint John Vianney started – especially with fundraising – so you can change more lives and make an even greater impact. Check it out…

PS – the information about Saint John Vianney’s approach comes from the book, the Life of the Cure d’Ars by the Abbe Alfred Monnin. Translated from the French edition.

Listen to the audio version of the article

On the move? I’ve got you covered! Listen to the audio podcast of this article by clicking the link below and stream this article and many more right on your phone. Subscribe also to the podcast on iTunes.


In just a few minutes, you’re going to learn three tips on how to fundraise better from the one and the only Saint John Vianney. Plus I have an additional tip from him. I usually keep things to three, but this tip is so important from St John Vianney that I’m adding it in the mix.

Okay, my name is Bring Sokolowski. Thank you for your attention. I run a website that is called It’s a website that is completely dedicated to helping Catholic just like you with their fundraising. Whether you’re starting, you’re looking for new ways to fundraise, or you’re trying to enhance and take your fundraising to the next level. I do this by finding recommendations from the saints, from the pope’s, from church teaching and church doctrine.

Before we dive in, I want to make sure that you’ve already downloaded absolutely, for free the Ten Commandments to Catholic Fundraising. This is a free guide that I’ve written and added everything that I think is most essential, in just ten steps, on how you can improve your fundraising. I’ve gotten great reviews. It’s been downloaded by thousands of Catholics, and I want to make sure that you downloaded absolutely for free. So the link you will find is below this page – click the link and download your free copy of the Ten Commandments to Catholic Fundraising.

Okay, St John Vianney. I will be looking at my notes, that way I don’t miss anything to tell you. So if you hear me pause, if you see me pause, it’s because I am reviewing my notes. You can get my notes also. There’s a link right below. Make sure that you check those out.

You probably already know who St John Vianney is, but I’m just going to go to a brief bio of who he is. He was a French priest. He is the patron saint of priests, and he is a significant man who lived in the nineteenth century and around the city of Lyon, a large town near the Alps, the French Alps. He was stationed there, and he’s very well known because of I would say two things in particular. He was very, very faithful to his flock, to his priestly duties because of mortifications, and because of the sacrament of confession. It’s been known that he was in the confessional for hours hearing confessions. And also the second reason he is so popular is, and I’m quoting, he spent between eleven to twelve hours each day working on reconciling people to God, and he would spend hours and hours and hours making sure that his parishioners, his community, knew who God was and that they were becoming saintly. So this man had a work ethic, and this is going to lead into fundraising.

Okay, here are the ten recommendations – I mean three recommendations plus a bonus from a book that I found written actually in French, but translated in English. The link is below as well on the life of the Cure d’Ars. I think you’re going to enjoy these three tips on how to improve your fundraising.

The first one is, and I’m reading this right out of the book. The first one is he made sure that whatever he did was aligned first with the faith. And so when he arrived in the town of Ars, the first thing that he saw was the parish was dilapidated, and nobody was going to church. So what’s the first thing that he fixed? He fixed the high altar. He focused his attention on the things that are going to bring people to God. So if your fundraising and you’re looking to boost your mission, find that one thing that is connected with your faith and focus on that and improve that just like St John Vianney did with his parish.

The second thing that he did is he was smart about where used funds and how he got people to help him. So it’s not just about money as Saint John Vianney shows us. When he was rebuilding his parish, he got the help of a local carpenter to do some of the work. And there was an old carving of the choir that was renovated and became very popular. And the carpenter did a great job on this, and this was possible because instead of going out and getting somebody and spending a lot of money, Saint John Vianney found somebody that was local. And the local carpenter was excited to do this project, so it was a win-win. So it’s not just all about the money. It’s finding volunteers that are going to help you.

The third tip is all about major donor fundraising. And St John Vianney explains precisely how you find a major donor. What he did was he developed a relationship with a pious nobleman randomly on a trip. I believe he was visiting Paris, possibly his sister lived in Paris, and he met this nobleman who became inspired by the priest. St John Vianney kept the relationship. My assumption is he didn’t ask for donation immediately right then and there. But he kept the relationship, and this priest inspired the nobleman. And he gave him on a new tabernacle, new candlesticks, and a whole bunch of stuff that in the end will lead us to tip number four. So tip number three is major donor fundraising: you don’t know where you’re going to find people, so you must develop relationships, inspire them, keep the relationship, and you’re going to then benefit from it, just like St John Vianney did.

The fourth and final one is to communicate and get people excited. St John Vianney brought people and invited people to his parish. He said to them, “You need to see this parish. You need to see it renewed.” He also organized a procession to give thanks to Our Lady as well as consecrate the High Altar. He led a procession on the feast day of Saint Sixtus. So he mixed all these things and made the event super Catholic and got the people inspired. And I think if you do that as well, you’re going even to get more donations. So it’s not just about asking people for money. You have to also communicate with them, invite them to come and see your mission and get excited and inspired by the Holy Spirit, just like St John Vianney.

Okay. I hope this was helpful and that you found some great tips. Please share this with a friend. Please leave a comment. Let me know how I can help you with your fundraising. God love you. And I look forward to speaking with you next week.

Question: Which saint has given you great advice on how to raise funds? Please leave your comment below.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Read-10-Commandments-to-Catholic-Fundraising.png
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 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.