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The formula to help Hispanics respond

The Vibrant Ministries Special Appeal has seen much success. A success that should be noted is in the Spanish Speaking community. The community responded well which could be an anomaly. However, this response was seen in multiple parishes which is a pattern. Patterns are the result of systematic behaviors. Patterns, can be replicated.

The play book for the VMA looks like this:

1. Speak more write less.
2. A great story - aka case study
3. Letter from Bishop
4. Multiple announcements at mass
5. Lay witness talks (people talking with people)
6. Bulletin announcements
7. One on one invitations (people talking with people)
8. Special envelopes

This formula is why the VMA was successful.

Stewardship renewal can follow this approach with time, abilities and tithe/alms. I will explain how each point can be adapted to stewardship renewal.

1. Think orally. Written material has been found to be less effective than people speaking to people in the Hispanic community. The team members communicating should be given clear specific talking points they believe in.
2. A great story. Communicate how the giver and their parish will benefit from their gifts of time abilities and tithe/alms in very specific terms. It is not good enough for people to hear that “we need to keep the lights on”. That message does not instill hope. Dreams and specific goals matter and should be articulated regularly just as VMA articulated so well with the three specific goals of the appeal.
3. A letter from Bishop for parish ministry is not practical or necessary. A heartfelt letter from the pastor with hope sprinkled in is.
4. Multiple announcements at Mass – From prayers of the faithful to specific renewal announcements, keep the hope inspired message top of mind for parishioners.
5. Lay witness talks – Lay witness talks are often the most challenging part of the process as many Catholics are A) scared to public speak B) too proud to speak C) feel they are not worthy to speak. No small feat to overcome. However, good lay witness talks work and support the multiple forms of communication people hear. Not to mention, give credibility and trust to the messages they have heard. Check out this 5 part video series on recruiting great lay witnesses.
6. Bulletin announcements – Often it is not what we say, but the way we say it. Words matter and negative intent language ruins a great story and message. Click here for a positive intent language list.
7. One on one invitations (people talking with people) – Another very powerful and labor intensive endeavor. This step, according to interviews I conducted with parishes, had the most influence of any steps in this system. One on one is relational, builds community, and again, builds trust into the goals a parish wants to accomplish.
8. Special envelopes – who would have thought a simple orange envelope would have the results that were intended? But they did and still do as the collection phase continues. It could have been any color. A signature envelope tells respondents “this is for me for this purpose. It is tied directly to something I care about.” A specific way to respond made it easy for people respond.
9. An extra step not listed in the original system. Follow up. Once all this work is done we are not technically done. It is not uncommon for people to make a promise and lose track of that promise over time. A plan to keep the renewal goals for that year top of mind is key so the momentum is not lost through the year.

Should this entire process be used annually for a stewardship renewal? That depends largely on the desired results. If a family goes through Financial Peace University and does the things taught, a family will be debt free and retire with dignity. Go through Weight Watchers following the system and we lose weight. Go through Alcoholics Anonymous following the system we get sober. Use the outlined stewardship renewal system and Spanish speakers will give more and in greater numbers to their parish.

The thing about systems is the more closely we follow it, the more closely and faster we get the desired results. Do half of the system, we get half the result.

The interesting thing about systems, do them long enough and they become habit. Habits over time make the system easier to transmit behaviors to others and for new comers to adopt.

These are the observations and results of asking “why did Spanish speakers give to the VMA. If the office of stewardship can help your parish, we are glad to meet you where you are and go on a journey together.

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