The Diocese of Austin, and my own parish, has certainly grown over the past few years, and funds are sorely needed. And so, the powers that be have created a capital campaign called Our Faith, Our Legacy. The diocese sets a figure for each parish, with 20% of that money coming back to the parish. Once a parish reaches its financial goal as set by the campaign, 80% of the money raised returns to the parish to be used as seems fit. Many parishes have exceeded their goals, and ours seems on target to do the same.
My parish is in the throes of the fundraising -- calling all registered families, visiting to drop off the campaign packet, and then following up to pick up the pledges. The first phase of the parish campaign dealt with the Major donors, and now I'm on the team that's targeting the Advance group of donors -- selected, I assume, based on the envelope offerings. These two groups make up only 10 % of the parish. (After we close them out, the campaign committee will organize phone banks to call the rest of the parishoners and take pledges over the phone.)
The part of these visits that bothers me every time is asking for the money. Through whatever calculations, the diocesan office has decided that the Advance donors (at least in my parish; I don't know how it works elsewhere) should be asked for a five-year pledge of $12,000. Before each visit I pray and steel myself, but I just cannot name this figure with a straight face. I know it's for a worthy cause and that the goal is sacrificial giving. But I choke every time I sit with a prospective donor and say, "The bishop is requesting that you consider a pledge, over five years, of $12,ooo." Sales is not my forte, to be sure. But I think that my main fear is of appearing unreasonable to these people I've just met.
I seriously doubt that the campaign-meisters expect that anyone in this group would actually give this amount. My own speculation is that by being challenged with such a high goal, donors will stretch farther and give more than if presented with a smaller, more realistic amount. And I'm sure that this is a proven strategy -- the campaign is being run by professionals and the diocesan results so far have been phenomenal.
Some volunteers have met with abuse or tirades from those they've contacted, but my own calls have been much more pleasant. Being relatively new to the parish, I'm glad to have a chance to meet new people, and everyone has been welcoming and generous. So for all in the Austin diocese -- be nice to your campaign volunteer! We don't set the target amount, and we don't disclose the amount you do give. Still, it would boost my confidence if someone would make a $12,000 pledge -- at least I wouldn't feel so ridiculous asking for so much.