Father Baker of Buffalo: Pioneering Direct Mail Fundraising and Impact

John Cunneen


As Catholic organizations look ahead to 2024, our focus must be on empowering our people to create enduring bonds with donors instead of worrying about whether 2023 was a “good” fundraising year or a “bad” one. 

The Gospel repeatedly reminds us that with faith and persistence, our Father provides abundantly. Just as many Bible stories teach us, in some years the harvest may seem a little weaker or stronger than others. What matters is that we keep the faith and continue to do good work. Remember: Fundraising results in any given year do not change the compassion and generosity in people’s hearts that our work aims to inspire. As we plan for 2024 and beyond, here are 5 tips to keep in mind that will help nourish a culture of abundance in your organization.

1. Nourish the soil by enriching supporters’ experience. When donors have a positive experience with your organization, they naturally feel good about you and want to support you. An easy way you can give them this rich experience is by segmenting your messaging to tailor engagement. For example, parents should be receiving emails about children and youth programs, but elderly supporters probably don’t need those communications unless they have grandchildren who attend. To determine who wants to hear from you, about what and in what manner, survey donors and follow up on what they tell you to improve communications and experiences. By telling people what they want and need to know, you can make every touchpoint easy and fulfilling.  

2. Sow broadly and reduce risk through diversification. Every farmer knows that they need to rotate their crops, or the soil will lose its nutrients. Take the time to audit your fundraising channels and note overreliance on any single event or channel. Then take steps to diversify your base. Pursue monthly donors, workplace giving, mission trips, thrift stores and more to broaden and grow funding sources.

3. Cultivate your team for a bountiful harvest. One of the most important components of any harvest is the people who are in the fields doing the work. Take the time to ensure that you have the right team in place by invest in their fundraising skills and encouraging collaboration among peers. Motivate staff by celebrating creativity and achievement, never by focusing on the negative. Foster a collaborative, abundant culture instead of isolated efforts to achieve the best results. 

4. Prune and direct growth through detailed goals and metrics. As organizations grow, they reach a point where some old, established practices need to be set aside. To make educated decisions about what needs to be pruned and where future growth should be encouraged, you need data. One way to ensure that you get it is to set income, participation, and activity targets across your ministry. Then gather the data and regularly review progress indicators to pace and direct your future goals.  

5. Know the why: Our shared faith bearing fruit. Think of your story as the nutrients that feed your harvest. Donors want to give to organizations that are making a positive impact. Show that you are by distilling and sharing the inspiring stories that align donors’ passions with your purpose. Provide images, videos and facts that illustrate the collective impact your donors are having. 

Through prayer and effort, our organizations can follow God’s call to be fertile gardens whose harvest lifts up the poor, heals the hurting, and renews hope in every season! We at The Cunneen Group wish you a terrific start to 2024. Please reach out to us if we can be of any assistance as you cultivate your growth plans.