CASE STUDY

Mater Misericordiae Catholic Church

A campaign feasibility study leads to clarity and wisdom


There are no guarantees a capital campaign will succeed, but wisdom suggests an organization should never embark on one without counting the cost and feeling confident about the likelihood of the campaign’s success. A capital campaign requires lots of time, resources, and hard work—and a successful one begins with due diligence on the front end.

Mater Misericordiae Catholic Church, located in downtown Phoenix, asked American Philanthropic to conduct a comprehensive feasibility study to determine if it should embark on a capital campaign to build a church in a new, but equally convenient, location. The current church had become too small for the parish’s growing congregation and Mater Misericordiae was genuinely concerned for parishioner safety because of a rise in criminal activity in the neighborhood. And, with members spread evenly throughout the Sun Valley of greater Phoenix, location was a key factor.

In particular, Mater Misericordiae needed to know if it was in a position to raise approximately $5 million and potentially as much as $10 million. Equally important, the parish needed to know if it had the personnel, financial capacity, development systems, and volunteers to execute a major undertaking. Parish leadership believed a new church was needed, yet they did not have clarity on what this entailed or the level of financial support within, and outside of, the parish community. That is where American Philanthropic came in.

American Philanthropic began by researching land and construction costs, sketching a proposal for a new church, and preparing a preliminary case statement. We drafted a set of study questions specifically tailored to Mater Misericordiae’s circumstances and conducted 25 interviews with key parish stakeholders who were representative of the wider parish community. Reflecting on interview feedback and analyzing parish finances, American Philanthropic probed, deliberated, and weighed the many tangible and intangible factors at play. 

In the end, American Philanthropic concluded that the parish did not—at present—have the operational or financial capacity to successfully conduct a campaign for a new church. While parishioners were enthusiastic about a campaign and would give to support it, the study indicated a $5+ million campaign was not feasible at the time.

A campaign feasibility study provides the information needed for parish leaders to make wise decisions on behalf of their organization. In this study, while Mater Misericordiae did not get the answer it was hoping for, the parish did receive what it values even more: clarity and wisdom.

After a four-month period Mater Misericordiae had

  • a recommendation for whether or not to move forward with a campaign;
  • a campaign case statement ready to be refined as new information was gathered;
  • built relational capital as key stakeholders were sought out and listened to;
  • a list of potential funders from outside of the parish to complement support from within;
  • clarity around financing a major project in the future; and
  • specific and concrete recommendations for how to strengthen operations and finances.

As a result of a partnership with American Philanthropic, Mater Misericordiae Catholic Church is growing in operational and leadership capacity that is helping them manage the increased demands of a larger parish community—and preparing them for the day when the parish is ready to build.

 

American Philanthropic is registered as fundraising counsel or as a fundraising consultancy in all states that require such registration. This means that we are not “fundraisers”: we do not ask people for money on our clients’ behalf, make personal introductions, make phone calls, or otherwise have direct personal contact with your donors or donor prospects. We tee you up to do those things, and to do them more effectively, by advising you, coaching you, and providing the services outlined in this proposal. Our goal is to help you build your development program so that it becomes stronger and more sustainable, and to put you in position to build your own strong, personal relationships with funders.

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