By Bob Corcoran
This article first appeared in Greater Mission’s July newsletter.
If you’re from the Northeast and enjoy landscaping and gardening, the spring and early summer are some of your favorite months. All the work you put into your yard and gardens last fall has sprung up. What’s left to do around the yard is also clear as careful planning and testing over the years points you in the direction of success for a beautiful summer and fall bumper crop of veggies, herbs, and flowers. Now, if the grass could just figure out how to cut itself, it would be perfect!
The same is true of our efforts with planning in our diocesan development offices. Most dioceses now run a Lenten annual campaign, so early summer begins the reviewing period for the testing strategies you put into the program the Fall before. Like the swallows returning to Capistrano each spring, June begins the annual return of lists (electronically or hard copy) back and forth from your office to parishes (or processing centers) updating rosters and trying to keep up with a very active parishioner donor base a full third of which moves every year. What little staff you have is tired and in desperate need of respite and recovery with family and friends as schools prepare to let out for the summer and the kids look to you for entertainment and rides everywhere!
No rest for the weary development director however, the spring and summer are vital to successful fall activity at every parish. The warmer months are excellent times to connect again with Pastors after Easter, First Communions, Confirmations, and Graduations and revisit short and long-term plans at each parish. To be prepared for successful fall fundraising at each parish, development directors and their staff should be working with Pastors over the summer to:
1.) Ensure their parish roster is accurate and up to date as possible with on-going efforts in place to grow and maintain it
2.) Encourage and highlight on-line or electronic giving as part of the on-going parish maintenance and yearly increased offertory programs
3.) Enhance parish roster information with wealth and demographic information to gain a better understanding of giving capacity and philanthropic interest of parishioners
4.) Invite selected key members to a series of informal gatherings to stay connected and to continue to cultivate relationships moving forward
5.) Put planning in place or further develop planning around a parish annual campaign to occur in the parish and in the mail each fall
6.) If a parish doesn’t already have one, set up an endowment fund at each parish run through your diocesan foundation – an excellent spot for funds left to the church from wills or bequests or from enrollments
7.) Walk with the buildings and grounds committee to survey the physical plant and interior of the church for work that might be necessary for general upkeep or new construction.
8.) Replenish old photos of church campus and parishioners at events for future use
If it’s understood that your parish is to conduct a capital campaign shortly, then all of what has been mentioned above is crucial and the summer can also be filled with gathering leadership for committees and designing and implementing a planning study to test your case for support with the parish and to gauge their interest in funding it.
Size and scope of studies can vary greatly, but the typical parish study interviewing thirty to forty people can take a few months to design and run. The findings from it are foundational for successful fundraising later. A well-designed and executed study provides and affirms the blueprint and direction for a campaign to follow.
A parish campaign run by Greater Mission is a faith-centered, data-informed, mission-central extension of your feasibility study and Parish plan. They run for about 4 months with in-house counsel as your partner 2-3 days a week for the duration of the campaign. All aspects of planning and implantation for a campaign are included in this partnership which sees the project through to its successful conclusion in parishes across the country.
But the planning for it begins now – for a free review of your top donors and a first draft of what a summer plan might look like for you and your diocese, please contact me today and put our experience to work for you this summer for a fruitful harvest this fall!
You can reach Bob Corcoran at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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