Thriving Together Helps Develop Congregational Fundraising

Beginning this year, congregations interested in building skills in capital campaign fundraising and stewardship can participate in Thriving Together: A Campaign for Congregations in the Diocese of Chicago. The next opportunity to explore the program is Saturday, March 30, when consultants from the Episcopal Church Foundation (ECF) will lead a one-day “Capital Campaign Kickstart.” The location will be determined soon.

Up to ten congregations can participate in the kickstart session, said Crystal Plummer, director of networking on the bishop’s staff. Five are currently signed up. After attending the session, each congregation that decides to participate in Thriving Together will work with a consultant from ECF to develop a fundraising campaign and stewardship practices that are tailored to their local needs and situation.

In November, five congregations participated in a pilot kickstart workshop in which they began planning to consider the urgent and compelling needs they might fund, finalize a list of projects with costs and communicate them to the entire congregation. The Rev. Stacy Alan, chaplain at Brent House at the University of Chicago, signed on to Thriving Together after that session and is now working with an ECF consultant to plan a capital campaign that will support renovations to the Brent House building in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago.

“We have begun the discernment phase of the program and have found it to be energizing and encouraging, so much so that I’m looking forward to inviting our alums and friends to support the campaign!” Alan said. “ECF listened to our unique needs as a campus ministry and our consultant not only gets us but seems excited by the possibilities. The process is allowing us not only to address current capital needs, but also to discern how God is calling us to use our all of our resources—our buildings, our people, the richness of our tradition—to develop even an even stronger and more responsive ministry with young adults and the university community.”

The Trustees of the Endowment are paying for the consulting services that ECF provides to Thriving Together participants. In return, each congregation will contribute 10 percent of its fundraising campaign back to the trustees. Using those proceeds, the trustees will replenish the funds it uses to front the consulting fees and invest the remainder in the diocese’s endowment.

“The benefit of this arrangement is that congregations do not have to worry about cash flow for fees during their campaigns,” said Plummer. “We hope, too, that working together with ECF we can build a collaborative community among congregations who are ready to focus on stewardship and fundraising, and the members of the bishop’s staff who can support them.”

Congregations of any size that would like to send a team of three lay leaders and the clergy leader to the March 30 session can sign up by contacting Crystal Plummer.