​Stewardship: Motivating capital campaign response

Posted by:

Catholic News Agency

Stewardship: Motivating capital campaign response

Our Sunday Visitor was founded 107 years ago by Father John F. Noll (later, bishop), who attended tent revivals defending misinformation on Catholicism. Matt Adams, OSV senior campaign consultant noted that, today, their not-for-profit OSV Institute gives back about three and a half million annually to Catholic organizations, currently awarding three $100,000 grants to groups with innovative and new ways to defend the faith and build the future of the church. They focus on: re-captivating millennials, helping the Hispanic experience and supporting parents as first teachers of the faith.

Adams noted evangelizing builds disciples, who build better stewards who engage people to evangelize further. “People want to give to a cause,” he said, “They want to be part of something successful and to celebrate.” As leaders, we need to encourage and support parishioners, enabling them to take the next step in their stewardship journey. “If we aren’t personally sacrificing and giving our time and talent, we can’t be a disciple to anyone else,” he reminded.

With more than a million 501c3 organizations in the United States, we need to give parishioners a good reason to give to their parish. Religious giving as part of individual philanthropy dropped last year from over 50 percent to 29 percent, Adams related, although individual philanthropy is at the second highest level ever. “But less of that percentage,” he said, “is coming to the church and religious organizations in general.”

He challenged considering what your church’s impact is on the local community and ask others to consider this as well. This is especially important to millenials who need to know they are giving money where it will do the most good. A study found Catholics were at the bottom of the religious giving list, compared to other faiths, but that those who attended Mass were more generous in all aspects of their lives. They key was they felt like were giving to a cause that changed lives, he said.

Catholics predominantly saw giving at church as “paying the bills,” whereas other faiths saw their monetary contributions as given to change lives. It is a question of mission-focused language versus maintenance-focused language. “As you change that language,” said Adams, “their attitude, their spiritual engagement, their talent, their time, their treasure, change dramatically.” To encourage generosity, we need to speak of church needs in terms of worship and ministry space versus buildings and helping the elderly get safely into church versus new parking lot, Adams explained.

There are three questions to consider in our communications, he added. Are we communicating our mission on a consistent basis? Do parishioners hold our leadership in high regard? Are we telling the parish what we are going to do and then doing that? “At the end of the day, he said, “we really want to build those true porportional sacrificial participants in our faith.”

Creating a shared value in a parish, he explained, rests on the three pillars of mission, leadership and fiscal transparency. “The more we can push back with good news, that we’re doing things well,” he said, “that’s a good step.” Do follow-ups and be aware of the demographics at different Masses, gearing your message to the group addressed. Remember a third of all individual donations occur in November and December and make use of commitment cards, contribution statements, custom offertory envelopes and stewardship pamphlets to present your story.

Consider electronic giving, since nine of ten people today have access to the Internet and online religious giving is growing twice as fast as all other sectors. Engage with social media, Adams advised, noting the three main ones are Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Encourage legacy giving at appropriate times and let people know you understand where they are in their journey outside of their faith.

“Our priests are very busy and concerned in a specific way,” said Adams, and we need to support them by having the right leadership to help them do their work. “Make sure that you are cultivating new stewards to replace that retiring offertory,” he added, and challenge yourself to understand those who are not quite giving at the sacrificial level or are giving nothing. “What are we doing,” he asked, to reach out to them on a consistent basis, and tell them why we are good stewards?”