This challenging time of social distancing during this pandemic has had dramatic effects on how parishes operate, connect with the parish communities and celebrate the Eucharist. It has also greatly impacted the financial situation of most dioceses and parishes.
Efforts have been made to provide Masses online, conduct drive thru confessions while sitting in your car, and publish Facebook live and social messages from Bishops, pastors and priests to stay as connected as possible with the parish community. The uncertainty of when we will be back to normal can be hard for many.
Great need is usually met with great response.
These extreme times have also shown the resilience and power of people and faith. The pandemic also prompts us to think about how to move forward when we begin to move out of the social distancing and re-open churches, stores, restaurants and gatherings. Greater Mission’s 100+ years of experience working for the Church in serving dioceses, parishes, schools, and agencies allows us to really think about what to do to prepare for that time when we begin to reengage in the movements of life.
- Evaluate online giving and what percentage of families are using it at the parish and diocesan level. Then develop a multi-pronged online giving enrollment campaign plan.
- Consider a diocesan-wide offertory effort. Engaging all parishes in the process will allow the entire diocese to start to recover together. Offertory/stewardship efforts have proven to bring people closer as it fosters engagement and ownership from the parishioners. There will be a strong desire for people to get involved once the stay at home policies end.
- Annual appeals for Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 could be revised to include funds for smaller or poorer parishes as they may need more help to get back on their feet. Messaging can be adjusted and sharing formulas can be modified to respond to the crisis.
- Establish parish partnerships in the diocese to build new bridges between your parish communities in the highest and lowest income areas.
- Design new outreach efforts in concert with Catholic Charities and other local agencies to those who may have lost their jobs or need assistance during this pandemic. Bolstering or including funds to help these agencies to continue helping those in need will be critical.
- If a capital campaign has recently started or is being planned, an adjustment in case elements may be required. Many dioceses are using savings or loans to help parishes survive right now and those funds will need to be replenished. Church leaders do not want to close parishes or outreach agencies, or turn the needy away.
- Consider a new mini-campaign to build a COVID-19 Crisis Response Fund. Once the markets and economic outlooks have stabilized, some of our best major donors will want to help the Church respond to the great needs. And there will be others who will step up in ways that we have never seen before.
Great need is usually met with great response. These are seven key planning ideas that can be considered as stewardship and development professionals in collaboration with our pastoral and financial leaders to facilitate that response.
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