Donors who give to religious institutions are inspired by a variety of motives. But rare is the donor who will confess a passion for paying for electricity, or cleaning services, or software updates. But these services are essential for any functioning institution. So how can religious organizations best enhance their operating budgets? That’s what the Episcopal Diocese of Washington wanted to know.
For three years, the Diocese of Washington has followed a four-pronged approach, developed by Canticle’s Jim Naughton, for boosting contributions to an annual direct mail campaign known as the Bishop’s Appeal. 1) The theme of the appeal reflects well-known diocesan priorities, such as youth and Latino ministry and church growth. 2) In the appeal, the diocese asserts its identity as a progressive, openhearted community of faith. 3) Donors quickly receive a letter from the bishop thanking them for their donation. 4) The bishop gives a dinner at which major donors have an opportunity to express their hopes for the future of the diocese. In three years, contributions to the appeal have almost doubled, despite the recession and the fall in financial markets.