young adult and campus ministry

Sharing Our Story:
An Interpersonal Approach to Campus Ministry Fundraising and Development

Campus Ministry group collage

Emergent Mission in parternship with the Office of Young Adult and Campus Ministry is offering a program designed specifically to address the unique nature and needs of Episcopal campus ministries throughout the U.S.. It is as a foundational step for educating ministry leaders in the practices of fundraising, donor cultivation and alumni relations. Since its introduction in 2022, 14 Episcopal campus ministries have participated in the program. Applications are now being accepted to participate in our third cohort starting in mid-August of 2023. For more information please contact Joe Merlino of Emergent Mission.

Learn About The Program

Campus ministries, even those that are embedded in parishes, dwell at the intersection of three different organizational models: the faith community, the non-profit, and the alumni association. Each of these models has a particular set of practices for achieving their missional and financial stewardship goals. Faced with this challenge, campus ministries may find themselves questioning which path to take; often mixing and matching practices from each model in the hope of achieving their goals despite the fact their programming has a positive impact in the lives of those they serve everyday.

Sharing Our Story is a program designed specifically to address the unique nature and needs of Episcopal campus ministries. The program uniquely pairs the missional and financial faces of stewardship under a common process with shared practices and resources – one that integrates the practical need for funding with the call to nurture meaningful relationships on campus and in your neighborhood in a way that inspires people to give.

The program will take a cohort of campus ministry leaders through a 10-session course over 4.5 months. The format includes bi-weekly group meetings designed to address the common goals, challenges and strategies associated with campus ministry, while incorporating 1-on-1 coaching in the intervening weeks to address the unique circumstances, skills and experiences of each ministry leader. Collegial input and the exchange of ideas are an integral part of the program.

In the first half of the program each participant will develop a comprehensive institutional narrative that describes the depth and breadth of their ministry’s history, mission, the constituent groups they serve, the programming that meets their needs, and the impact their ministry has in the lives of all those they serve. Equipped with this new resource, participants will explore how their narrative influences the day-to-day conversations they have with students, alumni, donors, board members, and other constituents. This extends to the communications they craft and deliver in conventional and digital contexts.

In the second half of the program cohort participants will transition from an inward focus on ministry to an outward process of engagement. Participants will receive a framework for engaging in intentional conversations with a variety of traditional and non-traditional constituent groups. Conversations will focus on connecting each constituent and donor’s core motivations and desire for change with the relevance and authenticity of your ministry’s mission and capacity to affect change. As conversation partners come to find themselves in each other’s stories meaningful emotional, spiritual and financial bonds are forged. It is within this framework that the mindset and practice of stewardship shifts from a series transactional and potentially awkward requests for money to deeper, more meaningful and transformational experiences of giving that inspire a deep appreciation and enthusiasm for participating in your mission.

The program will start in mid-August and will be facilitated by Joe Merlino, Principal of Emergent Mission. Our goal is to have one ministry from each Province. Each ministry will be asked to contribute $700 – $1,000 toward its participation in the cohort. If you have questions, or if money is an issue, contact Joe Merlino.

To participate in the cohort we need some basic information from you. Please select the program application link below and complete the form.

Read what participants are saying …

I have grown in knowledge and in confidence around raising money. Joe helped me be at ease with talking about the money needs of our campus ministry. I see more clearly the organic connection between our ethos, our ministry, and our need for support from outside of our immediate circle. I have a much better understanding and language that is in tune with who we are as a ministry. Money and other contributions are no longer artificial conversations that seem miles away from more pastoral or spiritual conversations. This new understanding of stewardship has become the foundation of how we elicit funds from members of our larger community.

– Rev. Ed Bird, Canterbury: Indiana University, Bloomington

Knowing how to ask for a donation is so important to ministry. Fundraising is not something that I was taught in seminary. The intentional work of crafting and sharing the story of Grace Place showed me that the way we were asking for money wasn’t connecting with our donors. Our new story has allowed us to connect more deeply with stakeholders we invite into our community. More recently, I used parts of the narrative in our appeal letter to make a direct ask. That is something we had ever done before. We were not only able to bring in more money from donors, but we also received support from donors that had stopped giving for the last several years.

– Rev. Mack Patrick, Grace Place: Northern Indiana University

Participating in this cohort really helped me develop clarity along with the basic tools and steps I needed for creating a robust development plan for my ministry.  As a priest I believe I was woefully unprepared for the work of stewardship and fundraising in the church.  Now, I feel like I have a plan in place that will help us begin the dreaming-visioning-imagining process, which will help with our stewardship goals. While I’m still aware I’m not an expert in development and fundraising, working with Joe helped me to understand that what I was really crafting in this process is a love letter to my congregation and student population. The process that Joe created was an opportunity to really immerse myself in my ministry context and remember, again and again, all the many ways I love being in ministry alongside these people.

– Rev. Hillary Cooke, Chapel of The Good Shepherd: Purdue University

One of the challenges of our campus ministry was maintaining relationships with our alums. Working together, Joe and I were able to develop a narrative framework and process for networking that gave Brent House a way to connect with our alums. Using in-person and virtual meetings we learned more about what Brent House meant to our alumni. We expanded our outreach to include former board members, former residents and other supporters. Now we have regular online gatherings that keep us connected. This experience has energized our alumni community, attracted new members to our board, increased the number of donors and pledge amounts for our capital campaign, and enabled us to think more confidently about how to build a vibrant alumni community despite being scattered across the globe.

– Rev. Stacy Alan, Brent House: University of Chicago

Before starting this program I accepted the belief that our neighbors were only those who physically walked past our building. Now I see that they are also people who engage with our parish and campus ministry through our on-line offering and in-person services when they visit the area. This program helped me see and accept that they are more than visitors, they are part of our community and long to feel connected. The program has helped broaden my language skills to better communicate with people who are traditionally outside of our campus ministry or not part of our church. Now I have some tools that will help me strengthen and deepen those connections.

– Rev. Deborah Woolsey, Church of The Good Shepherd: Ohio University, Athens