If we look back over time, when a disaster occurs, people want to help so it isn’t unusual to see donations increase, sometimes by multiples. Therefore, before you cut your budget, take the time to reach out and give your parishioners the opportunity to give. Many people are still working and feel blessed to be able to help and sacrifice for their fellow parishioners and the greater good.
So what should we be doing?
Implement an ongoing call, text, email plan to keep in touch with your parishioners during this time. Having your priest connect via a call is a great start. We all need to feel connected and cared for during this shelter in place period. Especially those who are elderly, alone, or suffering mentally or physically. Email is a great way to get information out to the congregation but it does not connect on a personal level like a phone call. Connecting via a call gives you a chance to say hello, to find out if they have needs resulting from a loss of a job or illness, and it shows you care.
Where should you start?
Pull a list of your best financial givers (small or large donors, who give consistently, and are always the first to support new programs). They are committed to your parish and believe in the missions of your church. Let them know what is going on and how they can help. You have a relationship and by reaching out to them in a compassionate way, it shows you recognize and care for their wellbeing. Let them know how much you value their support and see if they are willing to help. Share information on the parish missions and activities that are or will be impacted by changes in funding. Try to present the information as simply and honestly as possible.
Not everyone will be able to give but some may be able to help in other ways that will benefit your church (painting, landscaping, general maintenance, etc.). Let your parishioners contribute however they can (time, talent, treasure) and be sure to acknowledge everyone’s efforts in getting your parish through this pandemic.