Commitment Weekend Best Practices


June 9, 2014

Issue 35

Many parishes will offer parishioners the opportunity to participate in the Forward in Faith, Hope, and Love effort over the next several weeks. Listed below are suggested best practices, as well as advice from pastors throughout the diocese who have completed their campaigns, and had very successful in-pew appeals.

Commitment Weekend Best Practices

“Be optimistic about results when speaking to parishioners.  People want to be part of a successful campaign.  If the pastor is hopeful and optimistic, the parishioners will believe that the goal is attainable.” –Father Timothy Reid, St. Ann (Charlotte)

1.      Make announcements and send reminder postcards and/or make automated calls. By conducting these activities the week leading up to Commitment Weekend, it will ensure every family walks into Mass knowing that it is Commitment Weekend. This sets an expectation that they have prayed about their participation in advance.

2.      “Prepare by reading over the script and practicing with your campaign director. The script is tailored for the parish, highlighting only three or four campaign components that would directly impact the parish.”

– Father Jim Collins, St. Joseph (Newton)

3.      Prep ushers and volunteers on their role on Commitment Weekend. Typed instructions for ushers will be provided by the Campaign Office. Ushers prepared to pass out a card to and collect a card from every household will make the process quick and efficient.

4.      Conduct Commitment Weekend immediate following the homily. Attendance at Mass, as well as parishioner engagement, is maximal.

“Conduct Commitment Weekend immediately following the homily. Explain to the congregation that you are thankful for the participation of those who have contributed to this point but that a significant amount of the goal still remains. One hundred percent of the goal for the parish can be achieved if each of us who has not yet contributed makes some reasonable contribution according to their means. This parish has always had generous contributors who give to worthwhile projects in the past and I’m confident that, working together, we will achieve this goal as well.” – Father Bob Ferris, St. Aloysius (Hickory).

5.      Distribute and collect cards to and from every family. People are much more likely to fill out the cards if they see their fellow parishioners doing it! It also does not single any families out.

“After several months of personal visitation, we still did not have decisions from a significant portion of our parish family. The pledge cards have an option for every person, regardless of what their decision will be, and even if they had already made a gift. It created a sense of community as everyone filled it out together; I even took one for myself. After months of campaigning it was important to me to make sure everyone had the opportunity to make up their minds, and to demonstrate that they received enough education to do so .” – Father Dave Brzoska, St. Elizabeth of the Hill Country (Boone)

6.      Keep a card for yourself and fill it out along with parishioners. This ensures you provide each parishioner with enough time to fill out a card, and sets an example for the congregation to follow.

7.      Encourage decisions, regardless of what the decision is. A card back from every family will help best prioritize follow up efforts, and will ensure that we have educated every family and provided them with the opportunity to respond.

8.      Verbalize the gift request. Providing parishioners with examples of the types of gifts needed does not set an expectation, but reminds them of the five year pledge period.

9.      Champion the average gift if instructed by your Campaign Director. Commitment Weekend pledges currently average $2,100. If the average gift is even greater at the parish, it is an excellent way to stretch parishioners’ thinking – “What are other people in a similar situation to me sacrificing over five years? Can I do that, too?”

10.  Consider the campaign target in your announcement. If the parish is near reaching its goal, let families know the amount of gifts and types of gifts that will get them to goal. Remind parishioners about the sharing formula, and the over goal sharing formula.

Campaign Statistics


*A portion of the Leadership Gifts Phase total raised is shared with parishes, therefore the overall total is less than the sum of the individual phases.

Individual parishes were offered the opportunity to set a challenge goal over and above their FFHL goal. In addition, parishes receive a benefit from surpassing their regular FFHL goal. All dollars raised are included in these totals.

* Retired, but pastor when campaign was conducted.


Good News

Block Two

Fr. Mark Lawlor and parish families at St. Vincent de Paul (Charlotte) joined together for a special Mass to pray for the success of Forward in Faith, Hope, and Love. Fr. Mark reflected on the past generosity that allowed the parish to build their new ministry building and chapel, including passing down the altar and baptismal fountain from his home parish. Through reflection of the past, he encouraged families to look towards the future and join him in preparing for a vibrant faith community.

Families at St. Matthew in Charlotte continue to provide overwhelming support for this important effort. Families committed more than $100,000, recognizing the importance of strengthening not only St. Matthew parish life, but also the broader ministries that impact our Catholic community: Catholic Charities, Catholic Education, and Clergy Support.

At St. Therese in Mooresville, an Ambassador joined Fr. Vince Curtin to address the parish community during Mass to explain his personal inspiration to support this effort. The lay leader shared his personal vision regarding the need to further develop a Catholic foundation and structure in western North Carolina and his belief that this endeavor will effectively carry Christ’s message of love forward.

St. Eugene in Asheville held its first commitment weekend and Fr. Pat Cahill welcomed gifts from 62 families totaling $135,010.  The generosity from parish families over the past several months has allowed the parish to fully utilize the campaign sharing formula by surpassing 140% of their campaign goal. 100% of all new pledges will be put toward their new addition at Asheville Catholic School.

Fr. Pat Earl welcomed eighteen young professionals at Dandelion Market to hear more about the Forward in Faith, Hope, and Love effort at St. Peter in Charlotte. Fr. Earl highlighted the tremendous growth the parish has seen over the past five years, nearly doubling in size. This incredible growth has been seen across the diocese. Volunteers explained how committed dollars will be returned to the people of the diocese and not necessarily just to capital projects.