Stewardship Campaign Yields Big Increase

Parish

Holy Family-St. Lawerence Parish
Essex Junction
Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington, Vermont
United States

Almost half of registered families increased their weekly tithe, enabling this small, combined-parish to beat back a growing deficit.

"Fr. Charles' stewardship initiative has impressed on our family of five the motto 'Time, Talent and Treasure'. We are happy to give to his financial appeal series because we can see the dedication and love the pastor has for his flock and the tangible ways giving is impacting our parish family. Thank you Father Charlie for living the virtue of perseverance and charity!" Jack and Gina Lanz, Essex Jct., Vermont

The need it meets

A recently formed combined-parish was operating under a deficit. The pastor and finance committee designed a new budget, but they still needed to increase short and long-term tithing in order to keep the budget balanced.

Where it came from

Fr. Charles Ranges at Holy Family-St. Lawrence Parish, Essex Jct., Vermont, found the idea for this "Increased Offertory Campaign" through an organization that specializes in helping non-profit organizations raise funds. One of the Cunneen Company's areas of expertise is parish stewardship. Fr Charles recommends this company.

The Cunneen Company www.cunneencompany.com 800-842-4488 Contact: Ray Coogan

How it works

Fr. Charles began the campaign with a homily on stewardship; focusing on time, talent, and treasure. This faith-centered context of giving was maintained throughout the campaign.

He then explained the letter campaign. Everyone would be receiving a letter and response-card in the upcoming week, asking them to prayerfully consider a generous financial commitment. The letter asked everyone to respond, even if they were not making a financial commitment. He explained that he would continue sending letters to everyone who did not respond.

Then, every Sunday, Father reminded the parishioners of the letter and the needs of the parish by using anecdotes and comments (many taken from response letters). He would preface these with a brief recap of the stewardship campaign, to avoid giving the wrong impression to visitors and newcomers.

For example, one Sunday, Fr. Charles had parishioners give a testimony on why they tithe.

An example of his good humor is a comment he made on another Sunday: "Well, I just need a response from you. If you don't have the chance to help me, just write that down in a letter and let me know. If you don't do that I'm just going to keep sending you letters!"

The following quotation from Pope Benedict XVI on stewardship (which the pastor shared with his parishioners) exemplifies the faith-filled character of the campaign:

"The promotion of the practice of stewardship is important for the mission of the Church and for the spiritual well-being of each individual Christian. Everyone benefits from the sacrificial gift one makes of his time, talent and treasure. Therefore, please accept my encouragement for your efforts and my prayers that your upcoming conference will be a stimulus to the practice of stewardship in the Church." — His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI

The results

The campaign sparked a significant increase in weekly tithing, enough to balance the monthly budget.

The weekly offering increased by $1,785.75. One-hundred and seventy-three families (almost half of the families registered in the parish) increased their tithing commitment by an average of $10. Another large percentage of parishioners made special contributions to help expunge the current deficit.

Key elements

Perseverance and sense of humor.

How to implement it

  1. Determine the needs of the parish; include a conscientious revision of the budget.
  2. Begin campaign with a homily focusing on stewardship: time, talent and treasure.
  3. Draft a letter detailing these needs, asking for monetary commitment with a response card.
  4. Letter sent to every parishioner.
  5. Responses are documented: a)to record financial commitment of individuals; b)to keep track of who has replied.
  6. Priest brings up letters at Sunday Mass to ask for a response in a lighthearted way.
  7. Second letter is written and sent to those parishioners who have not responded.
  8. Steps 3-6 are repeated until the majority of the parishioners have responded.

Fr. Charles Ranges is pastor of Holy Family-St. Lawerence Parish.

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