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RAISE23 Award Winners

Petrus Development’s annual Raise Awards program recognizes outstanding achievement by fundraising professionals and volunteers.  Each year, Petrus honors some of the best fundraising campaigns of the past year with the RAISE Awards. This year, we have six organizations to honor!


Best Direct Mail Appeal: George Mason University's Catholic Campus Ministry

This organization went from sending virtually no appeals in the past to a robust appeal program in two years.  They worked with their Petrus consultant as well as their development team to strategize on how to have a more effective back to school appeal.  The piece had a clean design and a strong message for readers.  They utilized two segments: one for parents of freshmen and one for the parents of returning students.  The letter shared about how one student overcame his fears to evangelize on campus and how it brought in another student, now active in the ministry.  They then asked readers to support students, like the two featured in the appeal, by making a gift.  As their appeal program grows, this ministry would like to focus on increasing the average gift size for this appeal.  The judges found this piece to have an overall clean, easy to follow design with great storytelling features.  Donors clearly responded as donors gave over $10,000 to this appeal, surpassing the previous year’s appeal significantly. Check them out here:


Best Communications Piece: Youngstown State University's Newman Center

This winner has lots of wonderful news to share this year, including a new name and brand, a seven-fold increase in student involvement and an extensive renovation of their facilities. Because the ministry was transitioning from a lay-led ministry to a professional staff, the team decided that it was important to incorporate elements of the new logo and ministry name throughout this communication piece. Additionally, the inclusion of easy-to-understand financial graphics, a bulleted section on direct donor impact, a soft ask and QR code promoting electronic giving,  and action photos of happy students helped to make this annual donor impact report a wonderful tool in promoting the ministry this year. Read more about them here:

Best Giving Day Strategies: Cowboy Catholics at McNeese State

This winner had their first day of giving during Giving Tuesday in 2019. In 2019, they raised $2,000. Since that time, their giving days have grown tremendously. They have been diligently working to enhance their online presence to encourage philanthropic giving from those connected to their ministry. This year during #iGiveCatholic Giving Tuesday, they raised over $20,000. You can read more about the Cowboy Catholics here:


Best Growth Year: Life Giving Wounds

Life Giving Wounds has prioritized fundraising this past year and it has paid off. In 2022 they juggled family life, a job as Director of Religious Education at a parish, and their roles as Executive Director of this growing nonprofit.  Dan & Bethany were able to work hard and fundraised to hit their goal to switch to full time work at Life Giving Wounds. They see fundraising as a major part of their core mission. Over their first year working with Petrus, they have doubled their fundraised income and have exciting plans for this year. They dream big and work hard to get there. By increasing monthly donations and major gifts, they have made huge strides in their efforts to expand the ministry. Their mission is an important one today in the Church and is in high demand across the US! We are excited to see how God continues to bless their efforts and their missions in fundraising and serving the Church. Check them out here:

Outstanding Achievement: University of Southern California's Caruso Center

This organization has truly exemplified raising up the Church through their development efforts. Without financial support from their diocese or university, this organization has continued to build a thriving Catholic community and a joyful church! This year was an exceptional year for them as they successfully raised $3.5M, celebrated their 10th Church Anniversary with over 1,800 people, and added an additional $2M into their endowment. With strong stewardship at the core of their process and having now raised $71.5M over the past 20 years, this organization has achieved one of the most successful fundraising efforts in catholic campus ministry in the United States. Now that is outstanding! We are thrilled for them! Check them out here:


Outstanding Achievement: St. Thomas Aquinas University Parish at University of Arkansas

Our second winner for this award this year goes to a ministry that took their organization from minimal fundraising annually, through a feasibility study, and into and succeeding in a capital campaign.  Prior to their recent campaign, the ministry raised money for annual operations mainly through distribution of bi-annual newsletters and a phone-a-thon. However, there was limited history of major gift initiatives prior to the feasibility study process in the summer of 2020. Petrus worked with this ministry on the study, launch of the campaign, and have worked together through the silent and into the public phase.  The original goal for the campaign included 10M for a new church and student center and an additional 2.5M for annual fund and endowment funding. To date, 12.5M has been raised for the building with an additional 2M for the endowment and 750k for annual funding. The total raised is $15.3M, far exceeding the original goal. Read more about them here:




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