No matter how much people give to you, do you have any idea about their donor capacity — what they actually could be giving?

Ministry costs money, as any parish leader knows.

Without offertory, parish annual appeals, bequests and other legacy gifts our parishes would not be able to provide the ministry that serves the people of the parish, your local community and the mission of the Church. But no matter how much people give to you, do you have any idea about their capacity and what they actually could be giving… and do you know the relative age of your top contributors?

At a parish we were serving, we did donor research for them and found their Top 10 contributing parishioners, who generously gave over 10% of the total offertory of the parish, had an average age of 81! When we asked the pastor if he knew who the top contributing parishioners to his parish were and how old they were, he said he did not because he did not want to know. What happens to the parish when they are no longer there to give?

For decades, top Catholic universities and colleges have done regular Donor Research to know who their constituents are and what they actually might be able to give versus what they are actually, if only they were asked. This isn’t snooping in the trash or prying into confidential information, but it is a statistical and demographic analysis that allows your parish to know where to look for greater support now before it becomes a crisis.

This is the first of two articles on Donor Capacity Research. Click here to read Part 2.

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