St. Mary of the Knobs Catholic Church, Floyds Knobs, IN

St. Mary of the Knobs (SMK) parish had outgrown its church facility. Built in 1906 for 160 families, by 2005 the facility was serving more than 1,000 families. It was clear to the parish leaders that they needed a new church building. Pat Byrne, one of four campaign co-chairs explained, “With the growth of our school and church ministries and our future needs we knew the current facilities could not accommodate us. We had to act.”

Initially parish leaders had considered another consulting firm to help with the campaign. However, after one informational meeting with The Covenant Group they made their decision. Father John Geis, Pastor at SMK reflected, “The Covenant Group inspired us from the beginning. We saw it the first night we met with them. They were excited about our campaign.” Father John explained further, “We didn’t want a firm to come in, train our volunteers and then leave. The Covenant Group was there working alongside us throughout the whole process.”

Byrne credits the pre-campaign planning process of The Covenant Group as a key to the campaign’s success. “The feasibility study and the focus groups were invaluable,” said Pat. “They helped us listen to our members, determine the needs and priorities and communicate openly.” The feasibility study revealed that $5 – $6.5 million (at the high end) could be raised, but the parish needed both a worship center and a multi-purpose facility with a total estimated cost of $8.3 million. The Covenant Group suggested putting the full project in front of the parish, even though it was a significant stretch knowing that the projects could always be phased. Campaign Co-Chair Gary Libs added, “The Covenant Group process gave us the tools to communicate and showed us how to get people on board.”

Thus far, contributions total more than $10.9 million, with additional pledges continuing to come in. Pat Byrne recalled, “No one anticipated we could raise this amount. Even the Archdiocese is surprised. The funds raised represent about 15 times our annual giving. But it’s not just the financial results.” All of the Co-Chairs commented on the positive impact the campaign has had on the parish. Bill Sprigler noted that the church is more unified. “People are not in a hurry to leave church. They stand around talking more than they did before the campaign.” Father John adds that he has seen families return to the church that had stopped attending and he feels “a renewed and energized spirit among the staff.” Libs called the campaign, “the most exciting thing to happen in our parish in the last 100 years.”

Father John and each of the Co-chairs enthusiastically affirmed that they would unequivocally recommend The Covenant Group to other churches seeking campaign counsel. Gary Libs concluded, “The Covenant Group is superior in their profession.”

Sojourn Community Church, Louisville, KY

Sojourn Community Church has a mission and vision for the future, and they are passionate about them.  Their congregation had been growing rapidly, and six years after the church opened its doors, they were in desperate need of a new building.  With services overflowing, children’s facilities that were less than acceptable, and parking that was a challenge at best; it became obvious that they needed better facilities.  When an old elementary school came up for sale, Sojourn decided that this was the place for them.  However, they needed to raise an estimated $1.5 million to purchase the building and complete the necessary renovations. That’s when Sojourn’s pastor Daniel Montgomery called the Covenant Group.

After several initial meetings, The Covenant Group went to work and put the processes, teams and systems into place.  Pastor Montgomery elaborated, “The Covenant Group had a lot of our people in our congregation doing small tasks and that builds ownership.  They took our vision and put it into a concrete plan.  The Covenant Group helped us understand the importance of making our vision clear and they laid out the next steps we had to take to make the vision a reality.  They introduced a process that allowed everyone to hear and understand the vision, and then they showed people how they could help.”   The pastor explained further, “this process was alien to the way we did things, but the Covenant Group gave us a solid theological foundation that supported what they did, as well as some key documents, prayer support, and the requisite training for our people to be successful, all of which were invaluable.”

As pastor Montgomery explained, “With The Covenant Group behind us every step of the way, Sojourn was able to exceed our goal of $1.5 million”.  The refurbished building includes a newly renovated 5000+ square foot auditorium, an art gallery, a spacious music venue, state-of-the-art children’s facilities that include a gymnasium and a playroom for toddlers, and much more.
When asked how he felt about the Covenant Group and their contribution to Sojourn’s project, Pastor Montgomery said, “I would absolutely recommend The Covenant Group. Churches looking for theologically and Biblically driven consultants, people who operate with integrity and bring a process that includes the entire church body while empowering its leaders to achieve that vision, should hire The Covenant Group.”

Sisters of St. Benedict, Our Lady of Grace Monastery, Beech Grove, IN

The Sisters of St. Benedict had just completed an audit conducted by the National Religious Retirement Organization (NRRO).  The original premise was to determine the funding needs to care for the growing number of retiring sisters.  However, the report also revealed an immediate need to renovate and reconfigure the healthcare space in the monastery to make it more elder friendly for our sisters.

In addition to the NRRO report, we knew that St. Paul Hermitage, home to 105 senior adults, needed facility improvements to meet the ever-changing needs of a rapidly growing elder population. The sisters knew that raising that kind of funding would require some external assistance so they called The Covenant Group.

To that end, a feasibility study was conducted and the results indicated support for a campaign goal of $6.9 million.  The sisters set the basic needs goal at $3 million to establish a charitable trust to ensure care for our Senior Sisters. A visionary needs goal of $3.9 million was set to provide funding for the renovations at the both the Monastery and the Hermitage.  Sister Mary Luke Jones, Director of Mission Advancement stated, “The feasibility study gave the sisters the courage to move forward with a capital campaign. We felt it gave us solid grounds to launch this major effort.”

The Covenant Group partnered with the sisters by training their Board and Steering Committee members in making face-to-face solicitations.  This training became crucial as the real work of the campaign got underway.  The sisters did not expect the campaign to be easy.  “We conducted our last campaign in 2003”, recalled Sister Mary Luke.  “My theme for that campaign was Lower and Slower…meaning the gifts came in lower than anticipated and took longer to realize.”

When asked if the results of this campaign have been surprising, Sister stated, “One major donor in particular has been quite a blessing.” However, she is quick to point out that every gift no matter the size is appreciated. She adds, “A campaign is a great time for us to make new friends.  People are supporting us at varying levels and helping us continue to do what we do. Every gift from $1 to $1 million is appreciated.”

Just over two years into the campaign, the sisters have less than $1 million left to raise. “We are at $5.9 million today” Sister Mary Luke reported. “We have been able to fund the Charitable Trust.  Also, we are working with the architects now and preparing to begin the renovations as soon as the campaign is complete.” When comparing the consulting styles of the firms she has worked with, she notes The Covenant Group’s “kinder and gentler approach.” She adds, “Joe and Len make sure we get the job done. They keep us organized and on task, they spur us on so things don’t get missed.” However, she is grateful that unlike some consultants with a more aggressive style they are “charming, helpful and forgiving.” She continued, “The Covenant Group is positive, easy to work with, and they genuinely want to see their clients be successful.  Of course I would recommend them to other nonprofits seeking counsel…in fact, I already have.”

Christ Lutheran Church, Louisville, KY

The congregation of Christ Lutheran Church had a dream. They wanted to install a new pipe organ that would enhance the worship experience. After some in-house fundraising, they were still well short of the amount needed to make the purchase. It was at this point that Pastor Ron Poisel began to interview fundraising consultants. After interviewing several out of town firms, Pastor Poisel met Len Moisan of The Covenant Group for lunch. “Len believed our goal to raise money for the organ alone was too narrow. He challenged us to broaden the scope of the campaign to include other renovation and improvement projects.”

Pastor Poisel continued, “The feasibility study allowed us to test the level of support for these additional projects. By expanding the vision, we found that more of our members were willing to embrace the campaign. The study also allowed us to hear from our entire church body regarding non-financial components such as strengths and areas for improvement. It uncovered solid support from our people for the campaign and helped us set a realistic yet challenging goal. Still, for a congregation with an average attendance of just over 200, half a million dollars seemed a stretch.”

Christ Lutheran wasted no time getting the campaign up and running. Pastor Poisel commented, “The campaign structure The Covenant Group provided was excellent. They helped us identify key leadership candidates to chair the effort, as well as engaging between 80 to 100 people to carry out the work of the campaign. The structure allowed our members to use their God-given talents to benefit the church community”. As a result of the training process and the solid structure, the congregation pulled together. “Joe Cecil and Len encouraged us along the way by providing examples of the campaign success of other churches. This helped our congregation realize that we too could achieve our goals.”

When asked to describe The Covenant Group Pastor Poisel responded, “Organized, encouraging, good listeners.” Then he added, “Len and Joe are men of genuine spirituality and they incorporated that into our campaign effort.” The pastor referenced 2 Corinthians 2:17: “They do not peddle the word of God for profit, but they speak with sincerity.”

One year into the campaign and Pastor Poisel is very pleased with the results. “We not only exceeded our campaign goal, but we did so without having a lead gift indicated in the top giving level. It was truly a whole congregation effort and The Covenant Group helped facilitate that. In addition, the year-end numbers revealed that congregational giving did not experience the deficit we thought might happen during the campaign effort.”

Pastor Poisel would absolutely recommend The Covenant Group to other churches. He advised, “Lots of churches try to do campaigns cheaply, by doing it themselves. That’s a mistake. Too often I have seen people leading the effort get burned out and end up leaving the church. We did not experience any of that.” He added, “The Covenant Group helped us reach our full potential as a congregation.”

St. Agnes Catholic Church, Ft. Wright, KY

St. Agnes Catholic Church and School is a community of faith and learning that has served the people of Fort Wright since 1930. The original church building constructed in 1938 and the first school building (1955) are still in operation today. The historical beauty and utility of the church and school stand as reminders of the long-standing tradition of faith and service of St. Agnes parish. However, as structures age, updates and periodic improvements are necessary to keep facilities modern, safe and efficient. Such was the case when St. Agnes decided to conduct a feasibility study and capital campaign.

Father Mark Keene, pastor at St. Agnes recalled, “Our school building needed a series of infrastructure updates. We conducted several engineering studies which helped uncover the needs and gave us an idea of the associated costs.” After reviewing eleven different consulting firms, the St. Agnes team selected The Covenant Group. “Their process was unique. It gave us a clear model of how the campaign would be organized. This helped us envision it, and overcome our fears.” Father Keene added, “We also appreciated the way that Len and Joe brought elements of their own personal faith into the process.”Read more

Beechwold Christian Church, Columbus, OH

Beechwold Christian Church is a mission-minded congregation. With “Pursuing God, Pursuing People” as their slogan, the church was attempting to eliminate anything that would hinder them from achieving their goal. One such hindrance that needed to be addressed was debt. Patrick Mauger, Executive Minister, explained, “We needed to eliminate about $1.2 million in debt. The funds that would be freed up would allow us to make some capital improvements, increase staffing and allocate more resources into other areas of ministry such as children’s programming and missions.” As a congregation with fewer than 300 members, $1.2 million seemed a daunting goal.

After interviewing several firms, the decision was made by church leaders to engage The Covenant Group. Mauger referenced “impressive expertise coupled with the right amount of motivation” as key reasons for their selection.

He went on to recount the steps that were employed in order to ready the congregation for the task at hand. “The Covenant Group played a vital role in helping us prepare for the campaign. They really understood our DNA as an independent Christian Church.” Mauger continued, “They provided keen insights into fundraising and they led us through a strategic planning process which resulted in a unified leadership team ready to tackle the challenges of a capital campaign.”

With The Covenant Group’s offices nearly a four-hour commute from Columbus, church leaders were amazed at the high level of personal involvement of the consultants in the campaign. “They were readily accessible, engaged and gave us such a personal level of service,” the pastor marveled, “We knew they had other clients, but we always felt like we were the only one.”

To date, the campaign has raised over $1.4 million. Mauger is thrilled to say that the campaign results have accomplished what they had hoped at the outset. In addition to the funds raised, he shared several other positive benefits of the campaign. “First, our church body has a renewed sense of focus. Both the elders and the body are united in the direction we are heading.” Mauger added, “Second, our stewardship giving is also up. The campaign actually resulted in having a positive effect on normal tithes and offerings. We didn’t expect that.” Continuing the list he added that there is “a general excitement in the congregation about what they have been able to achieve.”

Mauger concluded by describing The Covenant Group associates as professional, knowledgeable experts.” When asked if he would recommend The Covenant Group to other churches seeking fundraising counsel he laughed and said, “Absolutely, I already have.”

St. Joseph, Bardstown, KY

Instead of following our typical case study format, we felt it appropriate to let this original letter speak for itself.  It came from the pastor, Father William Hammer.  It was sent on 4/28/08 from the Pastor of St. Joseph parish, Father William Hammer.  His remarks were in no way solicited and we publish them with his full knowledge and permission as follows:

“I want to thank you very much for the wonderful job that you, Joe Cecil and The Covenant Group staff offered to our parish in our recently completed “A Time to Build” Capital Campaign.  From the very beginning of our initial interviews and throughout the process I have always appreciated your approach which is faith-based upon principals of good stewardship and community building.  I do believe that our parish is stronger and grew spiritually throughout the process.  Your advice and counsel insured success beyond our initial expectations.”

I remember when we approached you about our original vision of an elementary school addition for approximately $3.3 million and you encouraged us to dream bigger of a “stretch goal” which then led us to consider renovated space for a fellowship hall and we raised the goal to $3.8 million.  Then as we continued our interviews and further developed our case statement, we envisioned a new fellowship hall and raised our goal to $4.8 million.  As we approach our “A Time to Celebrate” thank you party for the over 200 volunteers who assisted us throughout the process and as we are looking forward to a ground breaking with the start of summer, we are very near to a pledge total of $5 million.

You and Joe helped us in so many ways, beginning in the feasibility phase, setting a realistic campaign calendar, providing us with draft materials we could very easily adapt, the binder of detailed job descriptions and tasks, and most importantly the training.  Throughout the many months of preparation and training I always heard very favorable feedback from the parishioners involved.  I believe we would not have been nearly as successful had it not been for Joe’s and your guidance, support and encouragement.  To exceed our “stretch goal” and to do the outreach we were able to accomplish was a daunting undertaking for a parish of over 1,800 families, but it was made more manageable with your help.  Both the parish and I are better for the opportunity we had to work together.  Again, my thanks to you, Joe and your staff.”

St. Michael Church, Louisville, KY

Explosive growth at St. Michael Church helped parish leaders realize it was time to embark on a building expansion project. “We not only wanted to expand our worship space,” explained David Miles, the campaign chair, “we also wanted to expand our recreational and educational space. We knew we weren’t professional fundraisers, and much of our parish’s future was at stake based on our ability to raise money. We needed help.”

“I’ve been involved in several of the parish’s campaigns,” Miles said, “many of which we managed ourselves, and one of which was managed by a company other than The Covenant Group. For this particular campaign, because of its size and importance, we needed to hire the best. The archdiocese gave us several people to interview, and based on all of those interviews, The Covenant Group was the obvious choice for us.”

“Dr. Moisan, Dr. Rothwell and The Covenant Group team are experienced, very professional, and extremely dedicated to what they do,” Miles said. “I knew they were a first class group of people when we hired them to help with our campaign. They had a good plan and a very structured plan. They were absolutely the best group for the task at hand.”

Father Gary Davis, the pastor of St. Michael Church, realized that The Covenant Group stood apart from companies like it. “The staff at The Covenant Group never told us what we needed to do without listening to us first. They came in and asked us about our priorities. They clearly brought us the necessary experience and knowledge, but it was focused on what they learned as a result of their truly listening to us.”

“They were extremely cooperative and patient,” Father Davis added. “I can recall many times when I likened their patience to Job. If our staff or volunteers asked them the same question twenty times, they took the time to answer that question each time until everything was understood. If they weren’t there in person, and we had a question or concern, it took one phone call to have it addressed.”

The original goal the leaders discussed was $1.6 million, but The Covenant Group encouraged them to put all phases ($5.1 million) in front of the parish. To date, St Michael Church has raised nearly $3.5 million. “I never felt we were capable of reaching the full $5.1 million, but I certainly didn’t object to shooting for more,” said Fr. Davis. “I felt that reaching the $3 million marker would be a huge success, and we have already exceeded that.”

David Miles explained: “They spent a lot of time organizing and training the key players, and they provided sample letters Father Gary would need to send out. All of the information we needed was available to us, and the path they provided us was very well structured.”

“We amazed ourselves at what we were able to do,” Father Davis said. “The Covenant Group really pushed us to succeed in our campaign. They helped us structure a plan, they helped us call forth volunteers, and they counseled us every step of the way so that we would be successful. Having their counsel really benefited us. They gave us direction, encouragement and a wealth of information that we wouldn’t have otherwise had. I’ve already talked to several other priests about using The Covenant Group in their fundraising campaigns. I know they will always be our first choice in future campaigns. If it weren’t for The Covenant Group’s expertise, we would not have been able to raise this much money.”