Catholic Charities gears up for Hope Day fundraising

by Mark Ciemcioch
Fri, May 17th 2019 11:00 am
Online Content Coordinator

After the success of last year's online focused fundraising campaign, Catholic Charities is bringing back Hope Day on May 17 to attract new donors to contribute to the social service agency's $11 million annual appeal.

Inspired by other "Day of Giving" online campaigns and a desire to spread their message to a new audience, last year's focused campaign by Catholic Charities raised $409,000 in a single day, surpassing their own expectations. It helped get last year's appeal cross the finish line in June.

"It was a collective realization that we were nearing the end of the appeal and we had a long way to go," said Lauren Maguire, director of Appeal Advancement. "It was an opportunity for us to build some momentum and to capture the generosity of some folks who wanted to provide these matching gift. That (one-day total) represented a combination of efforts at the parish level, with our corporate givers and new donors who found us through our online presence."

"It's trying to reach those segments of our population that are more accustomed to using technology, social media and are online and mobile," said Chief Development Officer Timothy J. Sember. "We want to expand our donor base. Our main platform is through direct mail, but that only reaches people who are registered in our parishes, or have previously given. How do you reach new donors? That's why we're trying to move to this online platform. It was a wonderful success."

Hope Day, named in honor of Catholic Charities' ongoing theme and mission, will be supported by matching donations, a live tally available on their website, and frequent updates through social media and email marketing campaigns.

There are rising challenges for fundraising operations like the Catholic Charities Appeal, particularly competition from other online campaigns that are both professional and personal. Sember said their goal is to make personal connections through their online marketing, showing potential donors how their money would impact the lives of people.

"There's no lack of opportunity to give," he said. "Part of an online presence is how do you make the connection to people in terms of their lives. If you can let them know about the impact of their dollars directly, that helps motivate givers and it helps make the relationship more real and tangible. Our job is to enhance our online presence even more than last year."

Another issue are the ongoing investigations and news stories about the Diocese of Buffalo, but Catholic Charities is focused on its mission to serve the needy and poor.

"It's a challenge, but the need is ever present," Sember said. "The people who are served by Catholic Charities and are benefited by the Fund for the Faith haven't done anything wrong. We have an obligation as a society and as people of faith to serve others, to recognize 'what we can do to help.' Our food pantries are literally helping stretching budgets, so people who may not be able to have food every night can, because of Catholic Charities. We're here to help ordinary lives do extraordinary things. There's so much good in the Catholic Church than what we read about. We're living out the gospel."

"What inspires me to do this work is the commitment we get from our donors and parish level volunteers," said Maguire. "They are so generous and so invested in the work that it is inspiring to continue this important work every day."

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