Gone are the days where our parishes were fully funded because it was expected of parishioners to offer that financial support. Today, there are so many other worthy causes out there that people need to be strategic with their giving when it comes to choosing what to support. It’s time to give them a reason to give.
COVID-19 has changed our world in many ways, with how we give being one of them. From rounding up everyday purchases to asking parishioners to match a major gift dollar for dollar, here are some tangible ideas you can bring back to the planning committee for your next capital campaign.
The Importance of Planning & Asking
There are three phases you typically go through in a successful capital campaign: the planning phase, the quiet phase, and the public phase. During the quiet phase, you should aim to raise 50-70% of your fundraising goal through major gifts. Think supportive businesses with connections to your parish, long-term parishioners and other people with ties to your faith community that have the financial means to give bigger.
While talking about money can be uncomfortable for many, it is necessary to keep your church financially viable. That is why, in addition to pledge cards and donation envelopes, it’s important that you ask people for these major gifts. A phone call from the pastor or an announcement from the pulpit is sometimes all that’s needed to move the needle in the right direction.
Once you get the major asking out of the way, you need to concentrate on soliciting smaller gifts from your larger pool of supporters. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how comfortable you are with technology, the days of simply passing the basket down the pews is over. Our culture and how we give has changed, and our churches need to follow suite — here are some ideas to consider.
Ask for “Spare Change”
It can be hard to get people to commit to hundreds of dollars for a good cause, but when you split it into manageable chunks, people may not even notice it leaving their bank account! RoundUp is a great way to get people to commit to supporting your parish without feeling any financial pain.
The way it works is simple: the user finds your parish, signs up and connects their debt card to the app. They spend as normal, but their purchases are rounded up to the nearest dollar and the “spare change” is then donated to the church. It’s an effortless way for members to support their parish without having to really think about it.
The Button that Changes EVERYTHING
If your parish optimizes online giving but doesn’t have a way to allow recurring donations, now is the time to add it. Not only does it allow people to give whether they’re in the pews or not, but it also helps your parish project what financial support you can expect 3-, 6-, even 9-months down the road.
If you do have a recurring giving function but you find that parishioners are rarely using it, make sure that they know it’s there. From a simple call-out from the pulpit to an email with a direct link to sign up, it can make a huge difference.
Encourage Matched Giving
Remember a few paragraphs back, we mentioned connecting with major donors for most of your funding? Consider using one of those major funders for a gift matching competition.
Say one of your biggest contributors will match donations up to a total of $10,000 given by other members within the next two weeks. Then use that momentum to light a spark and get people excited to give. Send emails, text messages, make phone calls and more. For this type of fundraiser, it’s more about the amount of people who donate, as opposed to the amount they choose to give. For a parish with 500 families, all it takes is $20 per household to meet the goal — totally doable if everyone is on board.
Ask Companies for Contributions
A lot of businesses today offer to match their employees gift giving. Ask your parishioners if their places of work have such a program, and then make it easy for them by offering to print out their financial support record which they can submit for a matching donation. From $250 to $2,500, it’s free money that can easily be obtained by employees — if they only ask for it!
Pro-Tip: Charity Navigator has a list of major corporations that have an employee match program. While this is in no way an exhaustive list, it’ll give you a better idea of just how common these types of programs are, and how often employees forget about them!
As a parish, you know what you need to make your faith community grow. Read on for ways to get the word out by checking out “What a Communication Specialist Can Do for Your Parish.”