The holidays are now upon us, and the time is right to tie-in the theme of Advent with your giving efforts. Read on for tips and best practices on how to create your own Advent-themed giving campaign for your parish.
Brainstorm a Plan
The first step in implementing a plan is to actually come up with one. What goal would you like to form this year? Perhaps you’d like to come up with a special collection for Christmas gifts for children in need, clothes for the homeless, or stocking the food pantry. Or maybe it’s just to give your parish’s annual appeal one final push before the year ends. Whatever you decide, it’s best to be on the same page as a leadership team before you roll it out to the community.
Reach People Where They Are
With the approach of Christmas, people are already planning on how they’ll spend their hard-earned money. Be sure to connect with them early and help them understand just how vital their contributions are to the health and energy of the parish.
If you have an Advent theme all set, now is the time to come up with ways to make it happen. Many times, a single campaign theme with multiple fundraisers is a great way to have something for everyone. During the weeks leading up to Christmas, for example, come up with a different talking point that coincides with each Advent week. We light a second purple candle on the second Sunday of Advent to represent the hope of Christ coming to the world. Ask your parishioner — how can you be the hope that people see in the world?
Perhaps that week you have a clothing drive and ask everyone to contribute one article of clothing to the parish closet. Or you can choose one ministry within the parish to “crowdfund” that week. Whatever it is you decide, remind parishioners that they are a vital part of the parish, and the success of the fundraiser is largely based on their contribution. Then keep the momentum going as the weeks progress.
Email Communications: Cost-effective and Easy to Export
Not everyone can be at Mass each week, which is why it’s important to make sure they know what’s going on whether they’re there or not. Some easy ways to do this is to meet them where they are. Does you parish recognize the value of parishioner emails? If not, it’s time to start! A parish-wide email campaign is a relatively cost-effective way to get your message out to your faith community, whether they’re in the pews or not. Mass email platforms such as MailChimp or GetResponse allow you to easily import contacts and send out broadcast emails. Pair it with some attractive graphics and a clear message, and you’re good to go!
If your parish doesn’t have the time or the resources to conduct an email campaign, consider participating in LPi’s WeShare Engagement Campaign. With a quarterly postcard and email campaign, your parishioners will receive clear communication on the importance of giving to your parish on a recurring basis through online giving. All you do is supply the list, and LPi takes care of the rest at no charge to your parish.
Grab Their Attention & Make It Personal with Postal Mail
Contrary to popular belief, postal mail is not dead yet. If you have a solid list of parishioner addresses, consider sending a postcard from parish staff or a letter from the pastor detailing your Advent-themed giving campaign, how they can participate, and most importantly, why they should get involved.
While it’s tempting to put in the history of the parish and everything under the sun, try to keep your communication short and to the point. According to the USPS, Americans spend an average of 30 minutes reading their mail on any given occasion. With this in mind, the fastest you can get to the heart of the communication, the better chances you’ll have that people will take the time to respond to it. When importing your parishioner contact list, it is imperative that your names and addresses are accurate — no one likes to receive a mailing addressed to the wrong person!
Has your parish implemented a themed giving campaign? What was the outcome?