|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.