Dear Fr. Zagloba,
No, I haven’t forgotten that we have to replace the roof on the Church. Now that the furnace has been replaced, it’s our number one priority. I’ve been giving this a little thought.
I may have mentioned in the past that taking care of deferred maintenance doesn’t really qualify as a capital campaign, even if it is a big investment in the parish’s buildings. Capital campaigns are typically for new construction, new facilities that really capture the imagination and get people excited. We’re going to have to try something different.
I talked to the Director of Development in Savannah and he told me about the Catholic Extension Society. They are a pretty neat organization. They do fundraising nationally, and maybe even internationally, and then offer that money in the form of grants to parishes in mission dioceses where it’s difficult to raise funds.
Their strategy is pretty brilliant. A parish can submit a grant to them, laying out the need for funds and the timeline for accomplishing the project. Catholic Extension Society (CES) will potentially approve a matching gift to the parish. They’ll award some amount like $10-15,000, on the condition that the parish raises a similar amount by an agreed upon deadline.
Since the Diocese of Savannah fits the ‘mission’ description, we can potentially apply for a grant that we can use to put up a new roof.
Multiplying loaves and fishes
Using this kind of ‘matching funds’ really does help encourage additional gifts. While it’s not really multiplying the loaves and the fishes (and I’m not a modernist who denies the miraculous nature of that Gospel story), it does take advantage of the fact that people love a bargain.
A matching gift sets up the expectation that your gift of $1 actually produces a net result of $2 for the parish. We use this multiplication principal at the Food Bank all of the time, and it is essential to our success. For every $1 donated, the Food Bank is able to provide $9 worth of food to the hungry. People love that their gift makes such a huge impact.
Deadlines are important
The other thing that CES helps to do is create urgency behind the campaign. The roof has been sitting on the Church slowly decaying for decades. Hard to make a case for urgency. But if we need to raise $20,000 by Christmas in order to get another $10,000, we suddenly have a ticking clock to help encourage people to give.
One of the biggest obstacles faced by fundraisers is procrastination. People love your cause, want to donate to your cause, and they’ll do it when they have a free moment to take care of it. Except they forget until you remind them again. And then they forget again. Why do you think that advertisers spend so much money putting their message in front of potential customers… over and over and over again. Getting people to the point of actually taking action is really a challenge.
God willing, CES approves our request for a matching grant, and then we’ll be able to set a timeline that says, “Make your donations by this date.” As you saw with replacing the furnace, having an urgent need for funds makes a huge impact on the success of the campaign.
We will also need to figure out how to integrate the online giving capability that we’re setting to support the campaign. Carmen said that the vendor that we’ll be using will allow us to create a “Roof Fund” option for donors to select. This will be important, because CES requires that we show that the funds were specifically designated to replacing the roof.
The other thing that creating the online giving option will allow us to do is encourage monthly giving to support this project. A person might not be able to make a one-time gift of $600 to the roof fund, but they might be willing to do a monthly gift of $50 for a year in addition to their current giving. We just need to be sure to encourage this giving approach when we’re talking about it.
Rebuilding the Temple
Given the results of your emergency fundraising appeal to replace the furnace, I suspect that raising the funds needed for a new roof might not be as hard as we imagine. I’m reminded of the life of King Hezekiah in the Old Testament. After a series of faithless kings, he came in with a zeal for restoring the Temple of God and the sacrifices. God inspired him with a zeal to lead the charge and also inspired his people to respond generously to their king.
We have to remember that we’re not just putting a roof on an old building. We’re on a mission from God. This building is consecrated to His worship, a house of prayer for all the nations (or at least for everyone who visits our city). God will bless our efforts and supernaturally empower us to complete the work.
Nathan – The Almoner
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