Sustaining Generosity

August 24, 2017  •   LPi

We all feel the pinch, don’t we? The relation of income to outflow is a tense conversation in many parishes. It feels like churches cost more than they used to, with aging facilities, competitive salaries for necessary lay ministers, and new programs to enliven faith amid a world where many find it easier to have none. Where does that leave the average Catholic parish? For many parishes, running an increased offertory program is the best solution to relieve the tension. Even so, a new name and new mailings isn’t quite enough.

The top motivations for giving are connected to belief in the difference-making power of a compelling mission. When you want not only to increase your offertory, but to sustain the growth for the long term, it requires a multilayered approach that extends to all levels of the parish.

Emphasize Your Cause: Lead with the heart of the mission. What does your parish excel at? What are your charisms? How do you want to be known in the community? Build the foundation on your parish’s core values. Especially in a sea of nonprofits requesting donor dollars, this connection to the mission and the community helps parishioners to understand why a donation matters.

Express It Concretely: Casting the vision is necessary for any project requiring buy-in, but equally critical is an explanation of what will actually be done. Even better, make a few incremental, visible changes in advance, especially if your parish’s progress has been dormant for some time. Give your parishioners something specific to recognize and rally around. Will some of the money go to creating a new ministry position? Pool resources to create a version of the event this position might run. Need building repairs? Invite the Woman’s Guild or Knights of Columbus to brighten up the parish entrance sign with flowers. If parishioners can see you creatively working for them, there’s a clear reason to give. Keep that progress going! 

Empower Your Coworkers: In reflecting on the parable of the workers in the vineyard, St. John Paul II points out that we are all sent. Jesus didn’t do all the ministry himself, and he’s God! Christianity is not the special project of the elite or the trained professional. Show your parishioners how they can contribute! An offertory program is, of course, a response to a financial need. But the more parishioners feel empowered to give beyond their wallets, the more their stewardship becomes an everyday affair, the more intuitive financial giving becomes.

Conducting a long-term offertory increase program can seem overwhelming. Having experts to walk you through the process can lighten the load. If you’re interested in running a Sustainable Offertory Program at your parish, click here to find out more.

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