By Rebecca Harris
JACKSON –Organizers have deemed the 2016 #iGiveCatholic initiative a huge success for the six participating dioceses. More than $1.8 million was raised from 6,000 donors. This surpassed the goal of $1.5 million.
#iGiveCatholic was an online giving event that provide our parishes, schools, ministries, and not-for-profits affiliated with the Archdiocese of New Orleans, Diocese of Austin, Diocese of Baton Rouge, Diocese of Biloxi, Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux, and Diocese of Jackson the opportunity to connect with donors and establish relationships with new donors. The goal of #iGiveCatholic is to inspire the Catholic community to come together as faithful stewards and to “Give Catholic” on #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving back.
The diocese of Jackson raised more than $115,000. “We were so overwhelmed by the response from our community stakeholders. This being the first year, we had no idea what to expect, so we set a modest goal of $5,000. We had no idea that we would almost triple that,” said Ann Roberson, Development of Vicksburg Catholic Schools. “It was a great way to reach potential donors with whom we have lost contact. Social media and online marketing are a great way to reach donors and alumni, and this fundraising event proved that. We are looking forward to participating again next year, and build off of this year’s success,” Roberson added.
Advance day giving began Nov. 18 for those donors who would not be available on Nov. 29. Organizers began seeing donations on Nov. 29 starting at midnight and they continued throughout the day until 11:59 p.m. Throughout the day Jackson diocese parishes, schools and organizations creatively used social media to encourage donors to support their projects.
The fundraising team for Clarksdale St. Elizabeth Parish took their fun pretty seriously, transforming local photos and pop culture references to create memes or photos with captions to illustrate the project they wanted to complete with money raised – paving the parking lot. In one photo, Father Scott Thomas, an avid biker, is seen being swallowed by a pothole.
“This has been a great reminder and teaching experience that fundraising doesn’t have to be a chore. Instead it can be fun and really bring folks together. I can’t take full credit for the memes we created and used. It was the fruit of a group of us working together,” said Father Thomas, pastor of St. Elizabeth and Immaculate Conception parishes.
Schools posted videos of students asking donors to give Catholic and other parishes just posted stories about their projects.
Since social media was used to get the word out about iGiveCatholic day of giving, parishes and schools saved the usual expenses associated with a fundraising effort, nor did it take a large committee or hours of preparation. Madison St. Joseph School participated and raised more than $5,800. Lauri Collins, development director, is already looking forward to next year.
“I give Catholic was a dream day for our one-man development office. Being part of the big team with the other groups made my job so much easier,” said Collins. “I am grateful to The Catholic Foundation for being the trainer, the collector and the cheerleader throughout the campaign. And I am most grateful to the quick, helpful response when I had a problem that Tuesday morning. The one-day aspect made donating money exciting; that is not always the case. We are already looking forward to next year,” she added.
The Catholic Foundation of Jackson funded this effort so that there would be no cost to any parishes, schools or organizations. We wanted everyone to be able to participate in this day of giving. We did not want anyone to have to raise money to participate, we only wanted them to raise money for their projects. This was such an opportunity for Catholics to join together and show what a giving spirit we have. I was so pleased with the results. And I am looking forward to next year having more parishes and raising more money to support the wonderful works going on in our diocese. The Jackson diocese will participate again next year, so save the date for Nov. 28, 2017, and give Catholic on that day.
(Rebecca Harris is the executive director of the Catholic Foundation.)