In this episode, Josh Whelan, Petrus Vice President, visits with Matt Bond, Director of Development at St. John's Catholic Student Center at Oklahoma State University. They discuss the current Capital Campaign that is taking place at St. John's Catholic Center. They will discuss the $25 million campaign to build a new Church and Student Center, expand the campus ministry team and establish an endowment. They have raised over $15 million in gifts and pledges and will launch the campaign to the public in September. In this interview, you will learn steps to launching a campaign and get insight into what to expect. This interview originally took place during the Petrus Virtual Conference 2020.
This will be a broad overlay of the campaign along with Matt’s unique viewpoints.
Matt graduated from Oklahoma State University with a degree in business administration and a minor in accounting. After graduation he spent 2-3 years flipping and selling houses. During the 2008/2009 economic decline he left that field and entered insurance sales. He did that for 3 ½ years before moving into youth ministry. He was the youth minister for St. John the Baptist in Edmond, OK and served there for 5 ½ years to 2,400 high school and middle school youth. In 2016, OSU came calling or rather, texting. Change finds you. He was tasked with taking the university parish that served both the local population and students to just students and from going from a collection-based to donor-based fundraising system. The student center serves between 800-1000 students on campus each year.
Josh is from Oxford, Mississippi and a convert to Catholicism. He has had some wonderful opportunities in development since graduation including University of Mississippi development, health-based non-profits, FOCUS and in September 2019, he stepped into the roll of Vice President for Petrus Development.
Where St. John Started
In 2016, there was no development plan in place. There was one letter that was sent out about a lunch and a dinner for a mom’s group. There were no newsletters, business cards, logo, branding, database – nothing.
They started with business cards and thank you letters, created a brand and started cultivating relationships with alumni and donors. Slowly adding in piece by piece.
But because the collection based system was going to be moving away, they had to move quickly.
The building they had was not something that would work for their 2016 population. That’s when they started planning for a capital campaign.
Father knew from the beginning that the building would not work. That it did not fit their students.
Preparing for a Campaign
Put together a committee of those who loved St. Johns. From that they put together a price of what it might look like. It gave them a rough picture of what they wanted.
Is this even possible. Will we have support? Galvanize your top benefactors behind your vision. Report that shows perception of your ministry, data on planned giving, where you are in fundraising and where you are as a ministry.
Able to go out and find a company that would help run a feasibility study and then also help with the campaign. Chose Petrus because they had the most experience fundraising for Catholic organizations. Matt did not want to bring someone in with a cookie cutter plan. He needed something that was specific for them in Oklahoma. Petrus offered a transition time to go from campaign to operations.
300 people on the initial list of individuals to reach out to. Called and was able to set up interviews with 107 of those on the list. Petrus conducted the interviews to keep answers anonymous. 97% thought they needed a new building, 95% came back and said that they would support a building. Only 1 person came back with negative feedback.
Met with the bishop and diocesan finance council. And got very favorable results. The bishop said to test the feasibility study. Go out and ask the top 6 on the list for gifts and based on that, he’d give him the go-ahead with the campaign. So Matt went out and had great results. Bishop gave permission.
Had to continue cultivating and reaching out. Had to really go through the feasibility study and understand what it was telling them. Learning how the plan will fluctuate and nailing as much down as possible and beginning the silent campaign.
Hours and hours of preparation. Which was FUN! It’s fun work!
Everyone starts at zero. But they are at just about 16 million and are working on the next 9 million. Launching the public phase in September and looking at those donations for the operations side of the campaign.
Those on the committee are passionate about the ministry. Monthly updates and increasing communications between everyone. Looking at connections and how they can best work with those connections. Bring it all into the mix.
Make sure that Christ is your number one, family is after that and then the campaign. Your job is to create the plan and execute the plan. It’s not all about us, the development director. You go out and work with your team and utilize the strength of your team.
What We Didn’t Do Well
Database – it was in its infancy, so it was not a well-oiled machine
Email and Phone Numbers – had plenty of home phone numbers but found out that nobody answers their phone number. They also weren’t capturing email addresses.
50 years development efforts – there was zero effort made for 50 years from a development/database front. They lost track of thousands of people.
What we Did Right
Donor Cultivation – reaching out on a monthly basis
Running an Amazing Ministry – everything they do revolves around their goal of running the best campus ministry program in the country
Used Assets to Benefits – every ministry has their “assets,” use them.
Matt’s Piece of Advice
Whatever that’s going through your head that says you can’t do it. That’s not from Christ. Get out of your head and know that you are fully capable of doing this.
This week I have a thought exercise for you. Sit down and write out a list of what would you use your first or next $1 million donation for. Share your list with your supervisor or pastor. If someone came in tomorrow with a $1 million check, you don’t want to say “I guess we’ll put it in the bank and figure it out.” You want to have a plan and a vision. And after that write a list for a 25 million donation.
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"In a conference, what I'm really looking for is the practical TOOLS on how to do your job well and the MOTIVATION to go out and be ready to get back to work. I've gotten both of those things from Petrus. I'm really excited to get back home and HUSTLE and put my all into it."