How this Lenten season is telling us Easter is the right time to engage in fundraising

Lent Easter

We have noticed a shift in mindset early in the Lenten season in how many are choosing to sacrifice.

Rather than quitting chocolate and red wine for 40 days, we’ve observed a budding trend of supporters pointing to the “noisy” political environment and tragedies of late. This year, people are deciding to turn down the television, take their eyes off their phones, and purposely quiet down to look within, and find clarity in what is most worthy of their precious time.

What they can do to fill that time with something of deep, personal meaning, offers church leaders with an excellent time to engage with his/her congregation about the importance of building a sustainable, spiritual future.

Like Christmas or even #GivingTuesday, the “market,” so to speak, is asking for an extended season that celebrates generosity, kindness and doing good.

Here are a few tips and proven strategies for consideration this spring:

#1: Create original content that compels people to give. Proactively connect your congregation to the work you are doing in ways they can relate to; a mission they can get behind.

#2: Make Lent goal-oriented. Be specific about what could be of help to the congregation so they clearly understand an action that can be taken, and how their role links to a direct impact. Religious organizations often fall into a trap of generating a general ask of their members when they should be promoting a specific campaign. Think compelling, creative, fun. A memorable campaign is a successful one.

#3: Offer an added benefit to participating during Lent. Be sure to motivate your supporters with a reason to give beyond the fact that it’s a time for reflection. For example, some nonprofits use the technique of obtaining sponsors so they can offer matched giving. Ask yourself, “What makes this ask different than any of the other ones we do?”

#4: Set yourself apart from other places competing for your congregants’ time and attention. Your members could be suffering from cause fatigue so make sure you find the right time and message that will stand out to them.

#5: Learn from #GivingTuesday. One of the smartest things you can do after a successful campaign is to celebrate your successes, pinpoint opportunities to grow, and set goals for the following year. Analyzing how people responded to your Lenten effort, and how it can be applied to future fundraising initiatives, offers fresh food for thought the next time around.

Jon Biedermann is Vice President of Fundraising Products for SofterWare, and has served the nonprofit community for more than 20 years in leadership roles on major nonprofit organizations and foundations including:

  • Executive Board Member: The Giving Institute and Board Member, The Giving USA Foundation
  • Founding Member: Fundraising Effectiveness Project, a program of the Association of Fundraising Professionals
  • Founder and Steering Committee Member: The Growth in Giving Initiative, a program of the Association of Fundraising Professionals Foundation and the Urban Institute
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