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Using Electronic Communications To Strenghten Community And Grow Giving

With the end of the fiscal year looming, St. Raymond de Penafort parish needed to quickly raise $30,000 to cover a budget shortfall and keep parish operations on sound financial ground.  But how? The answer lies in a longterm commitment to nurturing donor relationships and regular communications that didn’t always ask for money.

St. Raymond de Penafort parish consistently uses the GiveCentral electronic communications feature to create a dialogue with parishioners and strengthen the community.  Monthly emails celebrate the vibrant community and showcase stories about the good work ministries are doing, the success of the school children, parish happenings and much, much more.  Through these stories St. Raymond built intimacy, demonstrated how donor dollars were helping and kept parishioners engaged in and tethered to their shared mission.  

When the parish faced the budget shortfall, naturally they turned to their parishioners for help.  They sent out a different type of note, one that detailed the parish’s financial shortfall and asked for help.  The response was immediate and powerful, raising $30K in less than a week, wiping out the parish debt for the year.  

How GiveCentral Made a Difference

The positive response and outpouring of support was rooted in a strong relationship the parish built with parishioners through a commitment to consistent communication that went well beyond asking for money.  These regular electronic communications sent from the GiveCentral portal fortified the relationship between parish and parishioners and played a key role in the community coming together in a time of need. When the email came asking for financial help, parishioners didn’t hesitate to generously give.  What’s more, providing supporters a way to give electronically offered supporters a quick and easy way to answer the call for help.

“I didn’t know what to expect, but we were very pleased with the outcome”

  • Roberta Nicholas – Communications Coordinator/Accounting

How often are you sharing your story s to strengthen your donor community?  If you don’t have a donor communication strategy in place, it’s time to start planning!

fundraising success of the Ice Bucket Challenge

A Wonderful Success- The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Do you remember the phenomenally successful campaing, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge from two years ago?  The viral, crowdsourced fundraising campaign – which, according to the national chapter of the ALS Association, raised an astonishing $115 million during a six week period – is a newsmaker once again.

Researchers – funded by the ALS Association, through ALS Ice Bucket Challenge donations –  have identified a gene that contributes to ALS.  According to the national organization it’s the third research breakthrough made possible from the fundraising success of the Ice Bucket Challenge.

When more than 17 million ALS Ice Challenge Bucket videos flooded Facebook the summer of 2014 participants were not only having fun.  They – along with the 440 million people who viewed the videos 10 billion times – knew participating would make a difference in the important work of the ALS Association (the only national non profit fighting Lou Gehrig’s Disease on every front).  How wonderful such positive outcomes came so fast!

This August, the ALS Association is building on the success of the Ice Bucket Challenge, seeking to raise awareness and funds to finish what the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge started in 2014: an end to ALS. The new campaign, called Every Drop Adds Up, pays homage to the Ice Bucket Challenge, visually emphasizes the now iconic “bucket,” and builds on the idea that when people come together they can make big, impossible things happen.

It’s a great example of building on fundraising successes and keeping the momentum around and commitment to a cause moving forward! What lessons can your organization learn? Can you think of another succesful crowdsourced fundraising campaign to share with our readers?

Email Communication

Holiday Email Adds a Big Boost to Year-Round Growth

The GiveCentral team’s goal is to help all of our client organizations to raise more, and we see a tremendous opportunity to improve donor retention rates over traditional payment methods like cash and checks. Earlier this year, we engaged hundreds of parishes in an exercise to test the power of communication to bring back donors who have stopped giving. Using the free email communication portal available to every GiveCentral client, we were able to demonstrate the potential of sending a single message before an important holiday.In the days before Easter Sunday 2015, we helped participating parishes send a message to their online donors who had not yet signed up to make an Easter donation to their parish. Each parish used GiveCentral’s free communication portal and email templates. The simple messages encouraged recipients to find their church on GiveCentral and make a donation.comparison graph: increase in fundraising between organizations who sent email vs. those who did notParticipating parishes saw a sustained increase in giving, growing by more than 9 percent on average over the following six months. That is nearly five times faster than the parishes that did not send an email.

  • 750 new donors responded to the call to give online.
  • Participating parishes saw a 323 percent increase in online Easter donations.
  • A single parish signed up 57 new donors with one email.

Communicating regularly is one of the most effective ways to raise more for your organization, and never is that more true than ahead of major holidays like Christmas and Easter. All you have to do is ask.

Download a case study of this great success story here.

A group of parishioners in gloves and aprons, preparing food for a charitable dinner

Great Things are Happening! The Value of a Hands-On Approach

I get a great deal of pleasure and fulfillment sharing the success stories of our clients, and I’ve started to document some of the more notable successes I’m seeing in a series I’m calling “Great Things are Happening!“Recently, I shared the story of Fr. Wayne Watts and St. John Berchmans parish in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood, and how the two C’s of Communication and Community had such wonderful, positive impact on their fundraising efforts.Today’s Great Things are Happening! success story is all about the value of a hands-on approach with members. Not just to help in fundraising efforts, but also because caring for each other is so important to our community’s health and happiness. St. Teresa of Avila in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood recently enjoyed over 200 percent growth in their donor base, and it was due in no small part to a message of caring.

Case study: growth in giving and donors, year over year, at St. Teresa of Avila
A hands-on approach helped the church grow in online donations, number of donors, and Sunday Offertory from one year to the next.

Rebecca O’Brien, who heads up stewardship for St. Teresa, had realized the church would benefit from growing donor base, and that to do it, they needed to take a very personal approach to helping parishioners learn and understand how to use the GiveCentral online donation platform. Fortunately, GiveCentral is remarkably easy to use. Still, for some, the leap from offering plate to the digital world can feel daunting without a little love and attention, which is exactly what St. Teresa gave.They went “all-in” as I like to say, offering assistance on how to register in the system, get payment information uploaded, create a donor profile, and set up giving preferences. Meanwhile, the church stayed in near constant communications with donors new to the system, making them feel at ease, and demonstrating the benefits of how much more connected to the church parishioners feel when using the online giving platform.And the results bear witness to the success of their efforts. Over 30 new donors were registered in the first week of the push, and ultimately, their Sunday Offertory increased by an amazing 433 percent!We can talk about the importance of online giving platforms in increasing donor contributions, and there’s no doubt GiveCentral played a role in this success, however the kind of care and attention the leadership at St. Teresa gave to their drive is the real meat on the bone in this success, and it makes me proud to have them as a partner.I believe that no matter who we are, we are lifetime learners, and a few insights here and there about why we succeed can go a long way.

Download a case study of this great success story here.

Great things are happening at St. John Berchmans

Great Things are Happening! A Case Study

Since his first day as pastor of St. John Berchmans Parish in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood, Fr. Wayne Watts’ motto has been: “Great things are happening at St. John Berchmans! From the beginning, Fr. Watts has focused on communication and community to celebrate a shared faith life. He is what I call “respectfully relentless” in his use of personal visits, phone calls, email and even Twitter to regularly engage with parish members in a very meaningful way. In addition to regular bulletin articles, the church sends monthly emails to their faith community, and Fr. Watts personally sends regular messages on social media letting the community know about how the people of their parish are working together to help each other.The impact has been amazing. Today, both the parish and school are thriving. Mass attendance and school enrolment continue to increase. And Fr. Watts’ communication has had a significant effect on giving: In 2010, the first year the church began using the GiveCentral online communication and giving platform, they were receiving an average of $5,000 per month in online donations. Today, the church processes an average of $22,000 online each month, an increase of 440%.Case study: giving growth, year over year, at St. John BerchmansFr. Watts and his church understand that parishioners want to have an ongoing dialog, and that they are more fulfilled when they see leaders like Fr. Watts initiating and maintaining those communications. And more engaged members are almost always more loyal donors. In fact, Joe D’Arco, the parish’s Director of Operations, has found that community members and school families now give more year-round, preventing the normal dips in giving caused by summer vacations, school breaks, and homebound parishioners who can’t always drop an envelope in the basket each Sunday.It began with reaching out to build community and monthly email communication. “Great things are happening at St. John Berchmans.” Fr. Watts and his team have done an amazing job that can help us see the possibility for all our parishes and schools.

Download a summary case study of this great success story here.