November 14, 2014

“Hello!” Taking the Mountain to Mohammed

A fundraising parody of the play, Book of Mormon

Chicago's St. James Cathedral faced this fall’s annual giving campaign with an added component. In addition to asking for pledges to fund their core ministries, the cathedral paired their annual fall giving with a special appeal for facilities, a part of the diocesan campaign. This meant that potential donors would be asked to give to not only the regular campaign but also to consider making an additional gift to their diocese. If the foundation of fundraising is relationships, then this presented a challenge, as potential donors may not feel as strong a connection to the special appeal. 

Terri Mathes, Episcopal Church Foundation Senior Program Director and Consultant writes, that in addition there was a difficulty in recruiting volunteers for the effort. “Like many cathedrals, St. James is a destination parish, and the leadership expressed frustration about how difficult it is to gather people other than Sunday mornings. Believe me! We tried! We scheduled small group gatherings in people’s homes, by demographic groups, you name it; but attendance was disappointing. 

"So we decided to take the mountain to Mohammed.”

St. James sought a fun way to educate the parish using well-known leaders from the Cathedral. The result? They created a short video parody of the Book of Mormon’s song “Hello.”
“Enter the three tenors. We wanted a light hearted way to say this isn't going to be a heavy, arm twisting experience. It will be fun,” noted Terri. 

Every other day they sent out new installment, and later posted in on Facebook where various parishioners shared it. The first installment has 475 hits – note, this is a congregation with 170 pledging units.

“The videos were part of a strategy of personal visits that we felt would help increase communication to address all issues,” reports Terri.

The entire video was featured in an e-newsletter and was very popular on Facebook. You can watch the short video further below or at this link.

Not only were the videos successful in raising awareness about the special appeal, but also everyone has enjoyed the spirit of fun and enjoyment.

“What a joy to have the laity take more of a leadership role in our church!,“ shared parishioner Alan Taylor.

It’s too early to say how the personal visits will affect giving, but the videos clearly have done their work. With 10 days to go in the campaign, 75% of the visits had been completed.
Have you found new and innovative ways to “take the mountain to Mohammed”? What have you found are effective strategies for providing information to busy professionals in engaging ways?

Don't miss a blog post! Subscribe via email or RSS, using the grey box on the upper right.