Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting

Fundraising Initiatives at Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting

Our fundraising goal at Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting for FY12-13 was $87,000 ($80,000 members, $7,000 attenders). As a large meeting with multiple obligations, it is essential that we raise these funds. However at the end of March with 3 months to go, we still had a lot of work to do with $33,000 to raise. Nonetheless by the end of June (the end of our FY), we had raised $95,000. ($87,000 members, $8,000 attenders), exceeding our goal by $8,000! This was one of the most successful years of fundraising we have had in a long time. How did we do it?

In the last few years, the Finance Advisory Committee of Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting became aware that we needed to increase member contributions. We were beginning to have to draw funds from our endowment each year to meet our budget. This made us realize we needed to begin more serious fundraising. Traditionally, we had sent out appeal letters in early December and early May asking for contributions, but this was clearly not enough.

As part of our initial consideration of how to increase contributions, we did some research and found that members of other religious groups, for example the Unitarians, were giving at much higher rates and in larger amounts than we were. We did some soul-searching and concluded that as Friends, many of us were too quick to assume that funding would somehow just take care of itself. We began to think of ourselves as needing to create what we called a “culture of giving” in our meeting. In addition to needing more contributions, we realized we needed to think about our attitude towards money and contributions. Our late member George Willoughby had gotten us started on this path sometime back when he began an “Every Member Campaign” and set out to visit all meeting members at their homes to discuss our responsibility to give. However after George moved on to another committee assignment, this tradition was not continued and we reverted to our old ways although we continued to appoint a subcommittee of the Finance Advisory Committee called the Every Member Campaign, which is responsible for raising funds to meet the meeting’s budget.

Here are the steps we have taken to increase giving in our meeting: 

1) A Phonathon: Two years ago we held our first phonathon (we held our third one this May). Members of Finance Advisory Committee and others gathered together one evening at 6:00 pm and shared fellowship over sandwiches and snacks. Jennie Sheeks, PYM’s Director of Development, was very helpful to us in not only securing space at the PYM offices to do our phonathon but also in offering advice and suggestions for fundraising. We called every member of our meeting who had not already made a contribution. We asked those who had not given to please consider doing so, at any amount they felt comfortable with. Our message was that we needed everyone to contribute, at whatever level. For those experiencing financial hardship, we said we would appreciate $5-$10. We also called some who already had contributed, asking them if they would consider another gift to help us meet our budget. For about two thirds of the calls, no one answered and we left phone messages.

As we made calls at the phonathon we recorded what people pledged and then the second year of the phonathon began the practice of re-contacting by email those who hadn’t sent in their pledge as of a few weeks after the phonathon. These people typically sent in their contributions after the email reminder.

 New initiatives this year:

2) Challenge Gift: Two members of our meeting gave us a $1,200 challenge gift to use in fundraising at the end of this fiscal year. We were deeply appreciative of their gift. It gave us something particularly important and inspirational to say as we made our calls during the phonathon and our announcements at meeting. We set up the challenge gift so that people’s gifts were matched on a 50% basis. So if someone made a gift of $100, for example, the donors would add $50.

3) Email Reminders: We began the practice of sending emails to all members and attenders of our meeting once a month for the last four months of the fiscal year. We gave upbeat reports on our progress in fundraising.  We avoided “guilt trips,” instead emphasizing how many people had already given, and how close we were getting to our goal of $87,500 in contributions from members and attenders. (See below for examples of those messages)

4) Meeting Announcements: For the months of May and June, each First Day at the rise of meeting a member of Finance Advisory made an announcement reminding people that the fiscal year was ending and we needed their contributions. Again, we kept the announcements brief and upbeat (e.g. “We are so close!  We just need $10,000 more to reach our budget goal of $87,500! So many Friends have given. What a wonderful meeting community we have!”).

5) Private Acknowledgements of Larger Gifts: The Clerk of Finance Advisory took on the responsibility of personally writing to those who substantially increased their gifts and made larger contributions, thanking them for their gifts. We felt that it was very important to acknowledge those who contributed in this way.

Concluding remarks:

In all our communications with meeting members and attenders we have tried to maintain a positive tone, stating that giving is not only an obligation but an opportunity for us to do more of the things we want to do as a meeting. In the coming year, Finance Advisory Committee will continue to develop our fundraising plans, building upon what seems to have worked thus far.

Report prepared at the request of Jennie Sheeks by CPMM Finance Advisory Committee (FAC) members Demie Kurz (former coordinator of FAC’s Every Member Campaign), Bruce Birchard (current FAC Clerk), & John Claypool (former FAC Clerk)

Examples of Email Messages Sent to All Active Members and Attenders

First Email Sent in April

Dear Friends,

We are inching toward the $87,000 we need to raise to meet our meeting’s budget by the end of June. Another $5,955 came in from 10 more meeting members in February and March, plus another $170 from an attender. Thanks so very much to those Friends and friends!!

So we now have received approximately $54,000, or 62% of our goal.  As of the end of March, 71 individuals and 9 attenders in our meeting have made contributions.  Thanks so very much to those Friends and friends!

Now we need to pick up the pace. We still need to raise $33,000, or an average of $11,000 per month for April, May and June.  That is a substantial amount, and every gift counts!  Your support helps keep our meeting strong and vital.

In the Spirit,

Members of Your Finance Advisory Committee (Names listed)

Final Email Sent in June

Dear Friends,

We are within shouting distance of reaching our goal of $87,000 in contributions to our wonderful meeting community.  Our fiscal year ends on June 30.  We need to raise a final $4,500 by then. WE CAN DO IT.

You responded wonderfully to the May 7th phone-a-thon and the matching challenge from our two members.  The total amount contributed in this one month added up to $18,438—more than the meeting had received in the previous three months!  We actually received 57 new gifts in May.  With these gifts, 100 members and 15 attenders have now contributed to Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting since June 30, 2012—already 6 more than contributed in the entire previous fiscal year.  This is very encouraging!

We are deeply grateful to our two members who gave us the challenge grant.  At the beginning of May, they promised a 50% matching gift on the first $200 of any gift (or all of any gift of $200 or less) made by May 31. We met this challenge running away!  We thank the two of them for adding another $1,300 to the generous contribution they had already made to the meeting last fall.  Their commitment to the meeting inspired all of us making the phone calls on May 7th, and it appears to have inspired many of you too.

As Friends will recall, the decline in some sources of income in recent years forced the meeting to reduce expenditures, including financial aid for families with children in Friends’ primary and secondary schools, conference expenses, and our meeting office.  If we meet or exceed our contribution goal for this and the next fiscal year, we may be able to consider some cautious increases in our budget in another year.

So please, if you have not yet made a contribution to your meeting, do so now.

And if you have already made a gift, please consider the possibility of adding a bit more.

We are confident that we will make the $87,000 contribution goal.  And that should make us all feel very good about Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting–our spiritual home.

With deep appreciation,

Members of Your Finance Advisory Committee (Names listed)