August 22, 2017

Full Circle: A Change of Heart in Asking

The question I am often asked when I am making a presentation to prospective clients is usually related to making “The Ask”. “The Ask” is the moment when one parishioner invites another parishioner to join them in giving to a fundraising appeal. Whether Capital Campaign, Annual Giving, or Planned Giving, this question is a common concern raised in parishes. While I am not surprised at the question I do enjoy answering it. I usually start by saying “I know I am biased because I do this for a living but this is actually one of my favorite parts”. With ECF’s 3 phase methodology for a Capital Campaign, when you do the first two phases right (Discernment and Feasibility), an ask is just coming together in fellowship to celebrate all of the work that has lead up to this moment.

It is in this moment that I see a sense of relief in most of those in the room. There are sometimes those who may still be skeptical.

Recently, I experienced one of those full circle moments with a client. I was visiting a client for gift worker training in the solicitation phase of a Capital Campaign. At the end of the training one of the volunteers approached me to share that they no longer had a fear of inviting others to give to their capital campaign because they realized that they were being asked to share their story with their fellow parishioners as well as ask them to share theirs and then invite them to join them on this journey by making a gift.

They also shared that they had been skeptical from the very beginning about being comfortable asking their fellow parishioners to make commitments to the campaign. After participating in the previous two phases and attending the training they now had this confidence. Not only did this worker leave that day ready to tackle their list, but they ended up being one of the first ones to get all of their asks in and even had some that came in over the ask amount.

The journey of this parishioner is much like that of a parish embarking on a capital campaign. In the beginning, there is usually some hesitancy and even fear. But when a parish is able to trust in the process, they end up getting so much more out of it then just attaining their goal. At ECF, a Capital Campaign is considered successful when it has not only reached its financial goal, but has involved a wide range of supporters, strengthened leadership structure, and engendered a sense of community accomplishment.

The success of a capital campaign can be transformative for the life of a parish. This renewed (or sometimes new) sense of community becomes infectious. When I hear from parishes about how they've harnessed this energy coming out of a campaign to take their mission and vision to new heights, I think back to where they were when we began. Like in the beginning, I am not shocked (at where they have ended up) and am happy to be there with them celebrating in the end.