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Silver linings found in running a capital campaign during a pandemic

By September 30, 2020October 11th, 2021Steier Wire

The pandemic has created new challenges and changed the way Catholic organizations operate and raise money. At the Steier Group, we have seen the silver linings of this “new normal” and are helping our clients not merely survive this crisis but thrive through it.

While the fundamentals of a capital campaign remain unchanged, the following are some of the positive developments we’ve experienced while working through the pandemic.

Relationships are the heart of a healthy organization and the lifeblood of fundraising. Stay-at-home orders and physical distancing have forced us all to reimagine how to sustain relationships and how to begin new ones.

Despite being distant physically, big fundraising efforts help a community rally around a larger cause, forging new relationships and bringing a community closer together spiritually.

When our life and health – and those we love – are threatened, our priorities change. The pandemic has reminded us that we are not all powerful, and that, in turn, has led many of us to return anew to God and to religion for answers, help, and hope. Alongside a natural and healthy desire for self-preservation lies an equally strong and innate desire to help others. Parishioners know that their local parish is not just a place to receive but a place where they can give generously of themselves and make a difference.

After 23 years of leading successful capital campaigns, we have found that one of the greatest challenges in raising money is not resistance but indifference. The pandemic has created a sense of urgency and shifted people’s priorities in a way that has reawakened them and opened them up to listen and respond to the call to help others.

We are made for community and enjoy feeling connected to one another. The current crisis has created a new shared experience and connectedness among everyone – a connection key to campaign success.

Having communicated a sense of urgency, reevaluated priorities, and nurtured a culture of community and connectedness, many organizations are enjoying a renewal during one of the most challenging times our world has faced.

If relationships are the heart of a campaign, communication represents the arteries. Prior to COVID, the two main ways we communicated were in-person meetings and phone calls. Now, video calls are the primary way we interact.

Initially, most viewed video calls as a temporary and unfortunate consequence of the pandemic. However, after conducting thousands of planning study interviews, training hundreds of volunteers, and solicitating countless donors using video calls, the Steier Group has seen the benefit in virtual communication, something we will continue to weave into our campaigns long after the pandemic.

Campaign meetings were usually held in parish offices, but now we meet virtually in the sanctum of each other’s homes. By opening our homes, we are ultimately opening ourselves to one another. This sense of vulnerability and openness enables us to encounter one another more fully and creates strong bonds, both of which contribute to a successful campaign.

Prior to COVID, most churches received the majority of their contributions during Mass. As a result, they saw their contributions plummet. While the effect has been devasting for some,
many parishes who have embraced and promoted various forms of online giving are now in a better financial position!

Not only has the amount of weekly contributions increased for some parishes but their income is also more stable because online contributions do not require the donor to be physically present. And, given that about only 40% of Catholics attended Mass every week before the pandemic, online giving is a silver lining – if not a golden thread – in this pandemic.

The coronavirus pandemic has impacted every corner of the world, claiming lives, leaving millions unemployed and creating challenges that at times can seem overwhelming. In this environment it is easy to worry, however, we are honored to partner with you and are inspired by you as we continue to move forward together in faith. For, even in a pandemic, there is a silver lining.