On Ash Wednesday, Catholics worldwide will embark on a 40-day Lenten journey. This period of prayer, reflection, and fasting is also considered a time of almsgiving – a moment to reflect on one’s blessings and share one’s gifts and talents with the broader community.
Many parishes across the country have served as a lifeline to their local communities by spiritually nurturing parishioners and offering care and support services to those most in need. As the faithful answer God’s call to service and prepare for the mysteries of Holy Week, parishes will need to calibrate this year’s approach to fundraising to meet ongoing budgetary needs and thoughtfully prepare for the coming of Easter. This four-week plan will serve to help drive parish revenue, strengthen digital communities, and streamline your Holy Week communications strategy.
Week 1 – Evaluation Period
As many parishes navigate technological novelties with limited resources, it is essential to evaluate your modes of communication and develop a viable timeline in advance of Easter. Consider asking yourself the below questions to determine how you will disseminate information in the weeks ahead.
- Does our parish offer electronic giving?
- What e-giving provider are we using?
- Is our electronic giving link clearly visible on our parish website?
- Does our parish livestream Mass?
- Is our parish active on social media? Which platforms are we using?
- Am I or is someone at my parish able to assist with social media posts?
- Can e-blasts and/or automated calls be administered weekly informing parishioners of relevant Lenten updates?
- Is our parish actively gathering contact information for outreach? Are we engaging with ministries to create a more robust email list?
- Do we have the capacity to send emails regularly?
- Does our parish’s Easter mailing feature our electronic giving information? Can we include a QR code in the letter?
To help drive parish revenue, make sure electronic giving links are prominent on your parish website. Can you find your e-giving link in 10 seconds or less? For parishioners that continue to use envelopes, provide clear mail and drop off instructions on your parish website that align with your current safety protocols.
Week 2 – Develop Your Case
The recent pandemic has presented many unforeseen costs for parishes as they continue to invest in technology to remain connected, pay the salaries of devoted personnel, and prioritize the sanitization of church property. Consider developing a case for support to clearly articulate your parish’s financial needs during Lent and beyond.
- Reflect on your parish’s COVID-19 response efforts.
- Highlight the support services you offered and those you continue to provide to your local community.
- Describe some of the unforeseen costs this past year.
- Include important facts and figures to reinforce the need for financial support. Consider listing the required monthly expenses to maintain the parish and actual offertory figures. Remember, many parishioners are unaware of the associated costs to maintain their spiritual home. Use this time to educate and inform them. This call to action will certainly garner one-time gifts, but can also incite sustained financial support.
- Please remember to thank lay leaders, parish staff, and parishioners in your communication channels for their unwavering support and leadership.
Week 3 – Share Your Message
Now that you have ensured your giving link is clearly displayed on your website and that your needs have been vetted and thoughtfully outlined, begin articulating your needs to the parish community through all relevant communication streams.
- Reinforce principles of stewardship by posting Lenten reflections on social media.
- Share your Holy Week Mass schedule through email blasts, social media handles, automated calls, and bulletin inserts.
- Remember the Rule of Seven, a marketing principle that purports people need to hear a message seven times before acting. Always include your electronic giving information in written and digital communication to encourage participation.
- Encourage parishioners to invite friends and family to ‘like’ or join your parish’s Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter page as you begin to share relevant updates and information.
Make giving easy for parishioners! Tips to consider:
- Written communication: Make sure all mailed or printed communication includes a QR code that links directly to your electronic giving platform or parish website.
- Livestream: For parishes with livestream capabilities, make sure your e-giving link is clearly displayed in the message portion of your post. Consider including a quick note in each livestream and/or social media post.
- Verbalize your offertory request during the livestream of Mass! After the Gospel and Prayers of the Faithful, invite parishioners and viewers to participate in the offertory collection or make their Easter gift by using your parish’s secure electronic giving link.
- If using Facebook to stream Mass, consider identifying an administrator or lay leader that can act as a ‘digital usher’. By logging in on your parish Facebook account, the user can post comments to remind viewers to participate virtually in the offertory process.
Week 4 – Reiterate Message
Offertory support is critical to funding vitally important parish programs, the upkeep of facilities, costs associated with new technology, and other ongoing expenses. Remember to reinforce this call to action during Holy Week leading up to Easter Sunday. By implementing these best practices, you can achieve your fundraising goals and enrich your Easter celebration!
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About the Author
Jelena Rudela is an Assistant Vice President at CCS. Her professional fundraising experience spans from working with individual donors to extensive capital campaigns. She has cultivated her expertise in areas of donor retention, major gift strategies, strategic planning, and volunteer training and management. This unique blend of strategy and focus has allowed her to serve as a strategic fundraising partner to diocesan clients such as the Diocese of Bridgeport, Diocese of Brooklyn, and Archdiocese of New York.