Priests learn about fundraising at convocation

Friday, May. 20, 2022
Priests learn about fundraising at convocation + Enlarge
Diocese of Salt Lake City priests gather for morning prayer during the May 11 spring convocation.
By Marie Mischel
Intermountain Catholic

SALT LAKE CITY — For their annual spring convocation, priests in the Diocese of Salt Lake City gathered May 11 at St. Vincent de Paul Parish’s Benvengu Center to learn more about fundraising. The presenter was Christopher Hanzeli, M.A., CFRE, executive director for institutional advancement for the Western Dominican Province.

Hanzeli has a master’s degree in fundraising, philanthropy and development and a professional certification in fundraising. He has been with the Western Dominican Province for the past nine years. In the past four years, the province’s Newman Center has had a 295 percent increase in income, and over the past eight years the province went from raising $340,000 annually to about $4 million, he said.

“It’s the grace of God – and caffeine,” he said, “and a commitment to constantly trying to improve.”

Hanzeli presented information to help the priests raise funds. One important aspect of fundraising is that it is built on personal relationships, he said.

“People give to people to help other people,” he said.

He suggested that the priests identify people who care about the mission of the parish, engage them in that mission, help them to see the value of the work, then ask them for contributions. If a donation is given, then the priest should thank them and report back how the contribution made a difference, he said.

The secret to fundraising is to invite people to give, thank them for giving and then tell them how their giving made a difference, he said.

Among the specific suggestions he gave was that the priests promote monthly giving, and each month tell parishioners how their donations are helping the parish.

Fundraising “is an art because it’s about relationships, it’s a science because it’s about best practices and the cycle of work, it’s a ministry because we’re trying to help people listen to what God has put in their heart – listen to that prompting of generosity,” he said.

Following Hanzeli’s presentation, Bishop Oscar A. Solis thanked him for his insights. To the priests, the bishop said that fundraising is “a very important component of our ministry,” but he acknowledged that he himself has difficulty asking for money because he would feel embarrassed if he were told no.

Nevertheless, he urged priests to “learn the art of asking.”

“We are not asking for money for ourselves, we are asking for money for our mission, for our Church,” the bishop said.

“Our job is to develop and form the hearts and minds of the people in order to form them in the spirit of Christian stewardship; to teach the people the value of what it means to give to God, to give to the Church, and to give to the mission of our Church,” Bishop Solis said.

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