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"Run So As To Win" - An Interview with Craig Miller

In this episode, Andrew visits with Craig Miller, the president of FOCUS, the Fellowship of Catholic University Students.  Together, Andrew and Craig talk about FOCUS, its ministry to college students, and the organization’s unique fundraising challenges.  They also discuss the tremendous growth of campus ministry in recent decades and note how that important trajectory might continue in the future.  

Show Notes


Before entering the world of Catholic fundraising and becoming president at FOCUS, Craig worked in the tech industry in California.  He and his family left California and moved to Colorado where, at a parish event, Craig first learned about FOCUS’s ministry.  Craig soon changed careers and joined FOCUS in its ministry to Catholic college students.


FOCUS in 2022

FOCUS currently serves nearly 200 college campuses with physical teams of missionaries on campus.  They also have digital teams ministering to another 200 campuses. FOCUS offers retreats, events, summer projects, and campus mission trips for students, all in hopes of strengthening students’ Catholic community and offering opportunities for increased intimacy with the Lord.    


Campus Ministry Growth

Andrew and Craig share that campus ministry has seen significant growth in the past 20 to 30 years.  Prior to that, the potential of campus ministry was often overlooked.  In recent decades, however, there’s been a new awareness that campus ministry can be pivotal in helping college students maintain and grow their Catholic faith.  


The Future of Campus Ministry

Both Andrew and Craig agree that campus ministry continues to grow.  Many campus ministries continue to be challenged to make room for increasing numbers of student participants, and ministries are receiving more support from diocesan leaders, donors, parents, and students.


“Run So As To Win”

Craig shares news of FOCUS’s current capital campaign titled “Run So As To Win”.  The campaign, while transformational for the organization, has its own unique challenges.  FOCUS’s campaign is less about assets (e.g. parish buildings and classrooms) and more about people and evangelization.  Craig emphasizes the need to be creative in how FOCUS communicates the success of the campaign to donors.   


Lightning Round

  1. If you could fundraise for any organization or cause at any time in history, what would it be?
    • The Missionaries of Charity.  The love and mercy of the Missionaries of Charity, including Mother Teresa, deeply influenced my Catholic faith, and I would love to be involved with their ministry.      
  2. If you could get a donor meeting with anyone living or dead, who would it be?
    • I would enjoy meeting with some of the world’s wealthiest individuals.  I would love to shape their giving in a way that is transformational for humanity through God’s church.  I would jump at the opportunity to engage souls who could help a lot of people but who, at the same time, need help themselves.   
  3. Is there enough money out there for every organization that's doing good work?
    • Yes, I absolutely believe there is.  Organizations need to remember to open doors and expand the number of parties they engage as donors.  Ministries cannot simply keep going back to the same small group of people for money.  There are so many other donors out there, you just don’t know them yet.    
  4. What is one piece of advice that you would give your past self?
    • Don’t wait so long to really put together an organized effort in development.  Be intentional and systematic about fundraising.    
  5. Who are 3 people who have most influenced you, professionally?
    • Former boss in the tech industry:   She was so deeply caring and relational, but she also got the job done.
    • Curtis Martin:  He has giant dreams but is never daunted in big vision.
    • Archbishop Charles Chaput:  He is a great shepherd and is radically accessible to his flock.    
  6. What is one fact about you that most people don’t know?
    • I am an introvert, and I work for a heavily relational organization.  It is very interesting to me to think that, based on who I know myself to be, I find myself in work like.  
  7. What is a book that you would recommend?
    • After the Bible and the Catechism, I recommend The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis and Divine Intimacy by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen.  


If you would like to connect with Craig you can reach him by email at [email protected].


Andrew's Take-Aways:

My first takeaway was the message about how immersive experiences like mission trips and summer work can significantly lead to more engagement and spiritual growth. This principle applies to fundraising as well. We always say that the best way to move a relationship forward with a donor is to spend time with them one on one. The reason for this is because those meetings provide us opportunities to have conversations about their interests but also just to get to know each other on a human level. I have done donor calls at coffee shops and restaurants but some of my most fruitful cultivation activities have been at baseball games, hosting donors at retreats and spending time at tailgates. These immersive experiences provide time and space for the relationship to grow. 


Second, the future of campus ministry is growth. Craig talked about that road trip and the capital campaigns happening. As more dioceses and leaders recognize the benefit of strong ministry during college, a more intense allocation of resources will lead to new buildings, larger staff and more programs. I see this every day and encourage ministry leaders to always think and dream big because there is very likely support for that growth either now or in the future. 


And third, Craig made an excellent point about not waiting too long to get intentional about fundraising. Petrus has been around for over 15 years, and it always makes me sad to hear about organizations who kept putting off fundraising out of fear or just not having the time. Development takes time to develop so the sooner you invest, the sooner you will see that return. But it's like the farmer with empty fields. If the farmer never takes the time to plow, plant and cultivate their crops, they will never have anything grow in their fields.


Thank you again for joining me for this episode. If you are in need of help with your fundraising program, please don't keep waiting to reach out for help. Petrus has a multitude of opportunities to help you grow and we’d love to explore how we can be of service. As always, you can reach me at [email protected] if you have questions or want to chat.  God bless and we’ll see you next time.   




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