Around the country and around the world, communities come together on GivingTuesday. Community Campaigns often form in cities and states but they also organize around common issues or causes. What they have in common is a belief that bringing a community together around the spirit of collective generosity on #GivingTuesday creates ripple effects far beyond the day. We spoke with Callie Combs Kamath, Senior Adviser, and Cory Howat, President, who shared how they organized the incredibly successful, nationwide, #iGiveCatholic Community Campaign on GivingTuesday.
iGiveCatholic has grown so much over the years and inspired thousands of Catholics to give back. How did your campaign evolve over the years?
#iGiveCatholic started in 2015 as a local initiative of the Catholic Foundation (now the Catholic Community Foundation). The idea was to offer parishes, schools, and nonprofit ministries in the Archdiocese of New Orleans a community-based platform through which they could fundraise on GivingTuesday. By providing these organizations with marketing materials, training, and online support (some churches and schools in our area didn’t even have websites!), we brokered trust and built name and services recognition that the foundation and participating organizations had not known before.
Relationships are key. Even before the first giving day was over, local diocese directors were asking if they could participate, which wasn’t something we had anticipated. After we saw the success of #iGiveCatholic—not only monetarily, but also in terms of the goodwill it engendered with the organizations we serve—we expanded to include five other dioceses in 2016. In 2017 that number grew to 17 total dioceses, and last year we came in at 29 dioceses. Scaling so large so fast has been a challenge, but one we were happy to meet. #iGiveCatholic became its own 501c(3), and this year we’ve just hired a national program director, Julie Kenny. Our campaign has also evolved to include a more robust online giving platform, greater training offerings, and expanded marketing/communications materials.
IGiveCatholic is a perfect example of collaboration. How did you rally diocese leaders and participating organizations?
Diocese participation has been largely organic. The draw of a unified giving day with promotion connected to GivingTuesday made fundraising exciting and impactful in our communities because it connected donors directly to their favorite causes. In addition, the online giving platform technology allowed us to collaborate while expressing the values of our faith in new ways. The collaborative nature of #iGiveCatholic also honors subsidiarity, which provides even the smallest organization with the means to participate and take charge of their own campaign, yet fosters solidarity and allows organizations from across the country to join together for a unified day of giving. This form of collaboration rallies everyone together and generates enthusiasm.
As the years have gone on, we still get requests to join the campaign throughout the fall… even as late as mid-October and early November! Word of mouth, social media, and presentations through various Catholic forums have been integral in getting dioceses excited about participating. And, of course, seeing the success of other dioceses across the country is a big motivator. In terms of making it easy to participate, our tiered pricing structure makes the program accessible to more remote and/or less populated dioceses, and we’re always available to talk interested dioceses through program expectations and answer questions. We maintain our own work plans and project milestones.
We also work closely with our platform provider, GiveGab, to ensure that these internal deadlines are met, that campaign-wide communications are clear, and that we’re giving dioceses and organizations every chance possible to have a successful giving day. Participants receive marketing materials, weekly e-blasts with tips and next steps, as well as training—both live + recorded webinars—all free and easy to use. While the campaign does take some work, we try to make it as turnkey as possible.
Did any challenges come up in your campaign? And how did you solve them?
Our main challenge is probably the wide-range of capabilities represented by the organizations we serve. Some ministries are well-prepared to execute an online giving day and are familiar with using social media, writing e-newsletters, and navigating a web platform. Others, though, are single person operations. In addition, there are a few organizations that are still challenged with keeping up with technology. While we try to make things as easy to use as possible, we always advise that our participating organizations market the giving day in ways with which they are comfortable, using the resources they have available—if their audience isn’t on Instagram and they don’t already communicate that way, #iGiveCatholic isn’t necessarily the reason to go create an account. Meeting organizations where they are and offering them the greatest support we can at the national, diocesan, and platform level is how we have addressed this issue.
Do you have any advice for leaders thinking about starting a #GivingTuesday community campaign, particularly one that’s based around a cause or a particular group of constituents?
Communities are multi-layered and diverse, and what works for one organization might not work for another. While our overall goal is to call the Catholic community together and inspire giving to Catholic ministries, we understand that there are many, varied constituent groups that exist amongst the categories of parishes, schools, and nonprofit ministries (and even within the types themselves). To meet this wide-ranging area of impact, we encourage leaders to respect this diversity by giving them control of their individual message while providing them with a unified voice that calls donors to action. Then it’s our job to strategize with and educate organizations on how to make a successful giving day. That same understanding is important at the diocesan level. Some dioceses enjoy a great deal of trust from their organizations and donors, while others face crowds who are leery of Church-driven programs. We acknowledge that every community is different and faces its own set of distinct challenges, and we work to educate dioceses on the importance of the giving day, helping them speak to any potential audience.
What’s the potential impact of the iGiveCatholic movement for Catholic organizations? What’s your vision for the campaign moving forward?
We’re excited to share that we’ve just hired a national program director, Julie Kenny, who will support the campaign’s growth. We foresee greater partnership and sponsorship opportunities, which we hope will allow us to make the program even more accessible to struggling dioceses who might dismiss the opportunity as too expensive or time-consuming. We’d also like to expand to dioceses outside of the U.S. and truly have #iGiveCatholic reflect GivingTuesday as an international day of giving for our Catholic faith! We’d also like to grow the platform to be more versatile throughout certain times of the year, as to allow dioceses the option to activate giving in times of disaster. An example would be opening giving in support of hurricane relief in Houston and Puerto Rico. We’re also interested in growing outside of the United States, to be inclusive of Catholic organizations around the world.
Catholic organizations + archdiocese that are interested in participating in #iGiveCatholic for #GivingTuesday 2019 should contact Julie Kenny at email@example.com.