We all know that our normal way of operating our parishes has dramatically changed because of the coronavirus pandemic. One of the biggest shifts has come with larger events – think parish galas, auctions, festivals, and so on. In the era of social distancing, mask-wearing, and group size limitations, these events can’t go on as they have in years past. However, parishes still need the financial boost these events can provide, so what can your staff do? In order to meet your fundraising goals, you’ll need to adapt – here are some ideas to get you started.
Virtual Silent Auctions
If your parishioners enjoy participating in a silent auction fundraiser, there’s no need to cancel it outright. These can be shifted online with a littler effort and some good software (32Auctions and OneCause are two options for hosting your auction).
Ultimately, not much about the event is changing in the move; you can offer all your typical auction items, but participants can bid from home at any time while the auction is live.
Online Happy Hour
An after-hours “gathering” is a more relaxed option that can be done in smaller or larger groups – you get a chance to connect with your parishioners, as well as raise some much-needed funds for your ministries.
These can function much the same way an in-person get-togethers do. Participants can use whatever drink they have around the house or, for a registration fee, you can provide a small bottle of wine and a snack delivered right to their door, or available for contactless pick-up soon before the event.
Good Housekeeping has a few ideas that could be adapted to a parish-friendly activity:
- Book groups can go virtual with small groups reading a chapter and then meeting on Zoom or Google Hangouts once a week for a discussion.
- Game night can go online with games like Pictionary or Charades, or you utilize free trivia games to play online.
- Host an art night; parishioners can register and receive art supplies, and enjoy an indoor version of a “sip-and-paint” art studio.
Face Mask Fundraiser
In most areas of the country, face masks or other coverings are mandated during the pandemic. If we need to wear them, we might as well promote our parish, too! Consider creating a custom facemask that includes your parish logo and/or colors.
There are a few ways to approach this: you can enlist a group of people who know how to sew to make masks, source a local screen printer or embroidery business that could do it for you, or you can use a website like ABCFundraising. If you are soliciting a business or using a website, ordering in bulk usually costs less per mask, thus increasing your profit margin.
This kind of mobile giving makes it easier for your parishioners to quickly engage with any kind of fundraising appeal. Whether we are still live-streaming Mass, or our parishes have reopened, or if your church isn’t passing around a collection basket as a mitigation effort, you’ll want to offer an online giving option.
Not only does this give your parishioners the chance to make a near-immediate decision and act on whatever donation or stewardship appeal the priest or parish office makes, but it also offers them the ability to donate whether they are in the owes or participating in Mass in the comfort of their own homes.
Move existing events online
With some creativity and a plethora of online resources, you can reimagine your unique or popular events as virtual events, while appealing your members for continued (or increased) support during these difficult times.
- If your choir performs an annual Christmas concert or carol singalong, consider livestreaming it this year. Choir members can be be social-distanced in the church or limit the in-person performance to a very small number of people.
- Popular fundraising sales could be shifted online. If your parish uses a certain company or program every year, see if they have changed their operations to be virtual. If your efforts include things like wreath sales at Christmas, try to make those virtual by taking pictures of what you have to sell and list them online. (It’s a bonus if you have volunteers or youth deliver the items to those purchasing, or even set items up outside for contactless pickup.)
- If a fish fry is popular in your parish, allow people to order online and set up a drive thru so they can quickly and easily grab it at the curb.
The current health crisis has made things difficult for so many parishes, but with a little ingenuity and flexibility on both ends, we can continue to connect with our parishioners and financially stay on track.