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Stephen Lee, Founder  |  678.896.9296  |  steve@catalystfaithworks.com  |  

Designing Capital Campaigns From Coast To Coast

Religious Product News’ March 2006 Issue

By Bo Gray

The east coast waited for the green light from the west coast, while traffic in Texas was at a standstill.

In the east, the account manager directed the project from his home office located near the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina, while the graphic artist awaited design approval in Kennesaw, as the printer stood by his presses in Atlanta. In southwest Texas, the executive team leader and his assistant paced the floor.

The success of the communications element for this capital campaign venture depended on the man sipping coffee at a small café out west in sunny San Diego.

In effect, time stood still. Yet, it was exactly for a time like this that Stephen Lee had founded CATALYST FAITHWORKS. As marketing creative director and owner of a successful Atlanta-based marketing communications firm, Lee had envisioned that his reference-based approach to developing capital campaign communications would take full advantage of wireless technology, the worldwide web, high speed internet and advanced graphic devices.

“Not long ago, the only option for off-site graphic design service was so templatized and rigid that originality was hardly discussed,” said Lee. “To obtain any semblance of campaign customization, you needed a designer and studio in close proximity, especially when the design and print deadlines became so critical, which is often the situation in capital campaign communications.

“Now,” Lee smiles, “with today’s faster web connections, and upgraded graphic technology, our design concepts and campaign logos can be selected, viewed and approved from a battery-powered laptop sitting on a table in a wireless internet café anywhere in the world.”

Which, in fact, is exactly where Fr. Kevin J. Manion, Pastor of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church (SJCC) of San Marcos, TX eventually clicked approval for the final custom designs on his parish’s campaign. Eventual printed items (in this package) included logo, stationary, main brochure, Q & A brochure, newsletters, prayer journal, bulletin and many more personalized design elements.

“I left for a brief vacation in San Diego during the critical early stage of our pledge drive, yet we did not miss a beat,” recalled Manion. “The fast turnaround provided by high speed internet communication was invaluable to this project. It was amazing to me that we were able to go through various revisions so smoothly and in such a short amount of time.

“I found this actually unique that we were using cutting edge technologies, in effect, to be obedient to the age-old call to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ,” he said.

Manion pastors the only Catholic parish in San Marcos, a community of about 51,000 located in southwest Texas 30 miles south of Austin and home to Southwest Texas State University. The 10,000-member SJCC is one of the 120 parishes in the Diocese of Austin. Manion, who is fluent in English and Spanish, said his parish holds four Masses in English and three in Spanish every weekend.

The pastor contacted CATALYST FAITHWORKS in response to an ad campaign Lee instituted in 2005.

“The ad claimed the CATALYST could ‘maximize capital campaign pledges with clear and compelling communications’ and I was interested in what could be done for our situation here in San Marcos,” Manion said. “Nine months before I saw the ad, we had initiated a pledge campaign, but it was not tremendously successful, so it was determined we needed outside help.

“Because of circumstances outside of our control, our parish could not contract with a professional capital campaign consulting group,” Manion said. “Therefore we had to marshal the talents and skills of our parishioners to run our 12-month pledge drive.”

Manion recalled that CATALYST encouraged him to consider the values and benefits of professional campaign consultants; however he said his hands were tied.

“As communications specialists, CATALYST was our best option because we knew their experience, expertise and passion could help us,” said Manion, “and they most certainly did!”

Lee explained that his company has a positive working relationship with many of the major church capital campaign consultant companies since CATALYST has provided some level of campaign communications for nearly 300 church and parish campaigns. As a result, Lee was able to help Manion develop a communications package for SJCC’s project that included both print and video components.

“CATALYST really helped us develop our story and effectively communicate it to our parishioners,” Manion said. “The entire process clarified our communication objectives and created a strong marketing leadership team that has directed our parish toward the future. We are very clearly moving forward with the clear vision CATALYST helped us identify.”

Yet even with the success using high tech gizmos, Manion said the SJCC project also included some familiar communication components like telephones and mail/package delivery systems.

“The long distance between designer and client was not a problem because we had almost daily telephone calls with CATALYST,” he said. “The phone calls were not only valuable, but proved to be most effective. It was like having a professional working with us on site.”

Although SJCC experienced a couple of snafus with local mail delivery, Manion testified of God’s providence.

“The Lord was clearly in charge since we attracted people we never knew were interested in our church,” he said. “We were able to contact about 1000-1500 people who do not regularly attend and in one instance, a man responded with a pledge and a large check.”

Manion was thrilled with the outcome of the “Together We Build with Faith, Love and Sacrifice” (campaign title) 12-month pledge drive.

“Our annual operating budget is only about $750,000 but the generous people in this parish pledged to give more than $563,000 by August of this year,” he said. “We will continue to evaluate progress of this campaign, but we have plans for two more and we certainly hope to enlist the services of CATALYST FAITHWORKS.”

Who knows, maybe next time Manion and his laptop will be at a café located amid the shadows of St. Peter’s Square in Rome. Such a scenario would pose little problems for CATALYST FAITHWORKS, which is exactly what Lee envisioned.

Bo Gray, Catalyst copywriter
A former account manager for CATALYST FAITHWORKS, Gray brings a wealth of leadership experience that includes 20 years in the marketing communications field, and another 20+ years in pastoral ministry. He holds a Bachelor of Science (B. S.) degree from the University of Florida and a Master of Divinity (M. Div.) from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Happily married since 1980, he and his wife are parents to six children.

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Stephen Lee, Founder  |  678.896.9296  |