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Innovation Challenge - Interview with Jason Shanks on the Petrus Development Show

In this episode, Andrew visits with Jason Shanks, President of Our Sunday Visitor Institute. Andrew and Jason discuss his personal and professional background and the path that brought him to Our Sunday Visitor. They also discuss how OSV is taking steps to bring innovation and growth into fundraising. They discuss the OSV Challenge and the new ideas that are coming from the endeavor.

Show Notes:

Andrew and Jason met in Ohio years ago when, for them, fundraising started with bingo!


Jason is a convert to the Catholic Church. He went to Miami University in Oxford, Ohio where he studied Education and Political Science. He converted from Campus Crusade for Christ in college to Catholicism and attended RCIA after graduation.

He taught High School history for three years and became involved in youth ministry, even starting a youth summer camp.

After teaching he attended The Josephinum Seminary for 1 year while discerning the priesthood. After leaving seminary he completed his Masters in Theology at Josephinum.

For 8 years he worked at a parish in Columbus, Ohio while earning his second Masters degree in Non-Profit Administration at the University of Notre Dame, Mendoza School of Business.

He then took a position in Toledo, Ohio for 2 years before moving to the Archdiocese of Detroit for the next 5 years where he would work to bring ministries together.

For the past 2.5 years he has been with OSV Institute which is the philanthropic branch of OSV. Over the past 100 years, OSV has been able to give away over $180 million.

There is a shift in fundraising at OSV from passive to community impact and Jason sees that moving to the idea of renewal and innovation.

Our Sunday Visitor (OSV):

OSV is looking at what are the largest needs in the Church and how can we measure the impact, is that “thing” working. Is the funding for the project working?

They have 3 focuses they are giving to currently:

- Unaffiliated Millennials

- Parent Project

- Hispanic Experience

Each of these areas are receiving $1 million over a period of time.

Through this current giving, OSV is seeing that there is a crisis of innovation in the Church. And to help, there should be a seat at the table of ministry for the fundraising team/individual. To bring a different perspective and to be able to ask the hard questions in ministry.

All too often we operate out of a scarcity mindset

OSV has discontinued funding events because no one could tell them the impact of the event.

One of the biggest problems is that people don’t understand the problem fully. They are marrying the solution and then dating the problem when it should be the reverse. We need to understand the problem fully so that we can address it properly. OSV now asks for business plans with grant requests. They want to be able to fund the project and then duplicate elsewhere.

OSV Challenge:

A way to be a catalyst of innovation and partnering with Catholic Creative.

The hope is that this challenge brings growth and will spur new thinking.

Something interesting that has come from the challenge is that themes in ministry are developing. And one of those is the desire for community.

How is AI going to change fundraising and how can we innovate the field with that idea? Integrating AI into fundraising is a “moonshot” for OSV over the next 10 years. There is so much data that OSV has collected over that last 100 years and how can they utilize that?

After the 3rd round of the Challenge happens it will go to judging for 3 winners, and then how can OSV make this challenge a win for more than 3 people. How can we innovate this?


Jason and Melissa have been married for 16 years and they live in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. They have 5 children ages 11 to 2, Nora, Xavier, Lyla, Luke and Ephram.

They love family nights and movie nights and exploring outdoors.

One challenge is being a Catholic Dad and Husband and creating a Catholic home without having had an example growing up. How does is look and how to develop it.

As a history teacher he would teach backwards so that the students could see that history is relevant and that this builds on that.

How to contact Jason:

Book Recommendations:

Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek

Play Bigger: How Pirates, Dreamers, and Innovators Create and Dominate Markets by Al Ramadan

New to Big: How Companies Can Create Like Entrepreneurs, Invest Like VCs and Install a Permanent Operating System for Growth by David Kidder


Lightning Round:

Raise money for who at what time?: Honestly would want to stay with the Catholic Church or a Catholic entity, regardless of who or when.

Donor meeting with anyone living or dead: Someone who incites ideas like Simon Sinek or Bob Igor of Disney. Also Archbishop Knowles in 1912.

Enough money?: Yes. There is a scarcity mindset right now and we need to change that to be a growth mindset.

Go back in time and offer yourself one piece of advice: Wished to become Catholic sooner. To be able to have had conversations in High School with friends about the Catholic faith.

3 people who have most influenced you in your professional life: There was a priest at St. Mary’s for his prayerfulness, a priest who he admired for his welcoming on valued hospitality and then people who took a chance and believed in him. If he could recommend one thing is to have professional friendships with people of like mind who can challenge and support you.

Would you do it all over again?: Yes, I’d say to calm down a little bit but to also enjoy it.


Andrew’s Takeaways:

OSV is willing to look at how to do it better and not be trapped in “turfism”

Development teams are able to provide a feedback loop to the ministry

Measurement impact is so important. You need to be able to show that what you are doing worked not just that you did it.

Connection is one of the best things that comes out of conferences.

Everyone needs a Barnabas and a Timothy. Someone to be mentored by and then someone to mentor.


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