By Maureen Smith
JACKSON – The Diocese of Jackson raised more than $92,000 in one day during the #iGiveCatholic 24-hour giving blitz held on Giving Tuesday, November 28. Jackson ranked fourth of all the dioceses involved The national campaign raised $2.6 million. Seventeen dioceses and archdioceses participated, a huge jump from last year, in the online giving effort which started in the Archdiocese of New Orleans three years ago.
The Office of Stewardship and Development coordinates the effort and pays the participation fee for the Jackson diocese. Christopher Luke, coordinator of stewardship, is the project leader. He set up what he called a ‘war room’ in the chancery office to watch the leaderboards live, encourage participants, manage the social media presence and interact with the media. Not only did the effort raise money, a television story in Jackson and print stories in other communities raised awareness of the work of the Catholic church throughout the state.
Callie Combs, development director for the Archdiocese of New Orleans coordinates the national effort. She said the success in Jackson proves that anyone can make this campaign work. “You get the tools – it’s all about how you use them and how you market this,” she said. #iGiveCatholic offers graphics, a social media calendar and suggestions for marketing on its website. Many parishes and organizations use those images and suggestions to spread the word about their projects. Combs added that this is a great opportunity to increase participation and awareness among those who want to help, but may not have deep pockets. “You can give $25 and you are making a difference,” she said.
Jackson St. Richard School edged out Madison St. Francis of Assisi Parish as top earner this year. The school raised almost $10,000 for lab equipment for their Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering and Mathematics (STREAM) lab. Development Director Wendi Shearer said the school used a combination of traditional and non-traditional tactics to alert people to the campaign. “We understand that while the #igivecatholic campaign has been designed as a social media push, not all of our parents and parishioners are active on the Facebook/Twitter/YouTube platforms. Acknowledging this, we leveraged some of the other resources offered by the #igivecatholic team – flyers, signage, and the oldest tactic there is – picking up the phone and calling people,” she explained.
St. Francis Parish leaders will make a joyful noise with the more than $9,000 they raised to repair the electronics controlling their bells as well as to purchase song books for their youth. The parish posted videos to social media throughout the day explaining the projects they wanted to complete and having a little fun. “The biggest key to success was setting clear, definable, and reachable goals,” said Sallie Ann Inman, office manager for the parish. She called it a team effort. Once they identified their projects, the staff got estimates for the work so they had exact amounts to raise.
“These goals were definitely discussed in advance of Giving Tuesday so that we had at least two weekends to put the word out to the parish from the pulpit and in the bulletin. We also promoted the project on our Facebook page and sending out text notifications on the MyParish App. We leaned heavily on social media in general, and Facebook in particular. Our priests got involved by making videos about our projects that were posted on our Facebook page,” said Inman. Staff members were watching the results throughout the day and posted about once an hour. She said the real success was getting more people interested and involved in two important parish projects.
Jackson Sister Thea Bowman School almost doubled the amount they raised last year. Shae Robinson, principal, said they posted messages and updates all the way up to midnight. “We decided this year to just let the accomplishments of the students speak for why people should give to Sister Thea Bowman Catholic School. We invited people to stop by for a visit and tour our school. Once we get a conversation started, we never miss an opportunity to promote our school or the iGiveCatholic global on-line giving day. I feel we were really successful this year, because we have people who truly support the mission of our school,” she said.
Starkville St. Joseph ended up raising more than $8,000 for a new roof. Other top earners included Cleveland Our Lady of Victories Parish, and the Carmelite Monastery in Jackson.