November 2017 Newsletter

Posted by on Nov 8, 2017 in Newsletters | No Comments

During the course of one year, ISPD will usually work with 20-25 Catholic institutions offering on-site consulting with visits on a regular and consistent basis. It is intensive work where we get to know many people in the community and actually have the opportunity to “rub shoulders” with hundreds of them. In addition to our primary consulting processes (long-range planning, total stewardship, capital campaigns, development plans, etc.) we also will take on one parish and/or school and work with them introducing and implementing what we call a “Continuous Quality Improvement” process. In some circles, this is referred to as “Total Quality Management” or “Customer Service.” The overall goal of this 6 month consulting process is to look at the many ways the parish and/or the school can improve, and then set up a Quality Improvement Team to make that happen. For those parishes and schools that are gradually realizing that they MUST change their culture in order to prevail, this process or this way of thinking can sometimes be a giant step in being proactive rather than reactive.

One of the first steps, after the assessment work, is to identify what it is a parish and/or a school wants to concentrate on. There are literally hundreds of areas of concentration – how to improve discipline, how to communicate better, how to welcome new parish families, how to involve the alumni more, and the list goes on and on. Having introduced and implemented a CQI Plan into five Catholic institutions since 2012, little did we realize (on the front end of the work) that all five places would want to address the exact same area in order to improve. In fact, after the third CQI client, we began to suspect what the next school and/or parish would want to bring to the table. It all came down to two words: affirm and appreciate.

Internally, with these five clients, we found the following:

  • Some principals felt they could use a pat on the back every now and then.
  • Some pastors felt they were underappreciated, especially since many parish families do not understand the day to day schedule and role of a pastor.
  • The teachers felt the principal did not affirm them enough. They also felt the parents did not appreciate what they did for their children.
  • The parish staff felt they were “loaded on” having to do everything, with little acknowledgement and appreciation.
  • The school and parish support staff felt people looked “down” at them.
  • Students felt they did not receive the support from their teachers in regards to attending sporting events or extra-curricular activities.
  • Some volunteers in these schools and parishes felt that the Catholic leaders in charge did not fully appreciate the many hours spent away from their families attending meetings, planning sessions, board retreats, etc.

The work with these five Catholic institutions proved to be very enlightening. I guess what it all boiled down to was this: people simply wanted someone to say, “Nice job!” and “Thank you!”

Within our own Catholic parishes and schools, what processes and attitudes do we have in place that encourage everyone to reach out and say, “I really appreciate what you are doing?” Whether people are paid or unpaid, whether their responsibility is heading up the school board or serving in the cafeteria, we certainly need to develop or re-develop a level of consciousness that affirms and appreciates. Many Catholic institutions host a “Thank You” dinner or ice cream party or something like that, and they invite everyone who ever helped. Does this approach beg the question: Is that personal enough?

Let’s go one step further: Do we have a personal and meaningful plan in place to thank our donors? I am certain that most every Catholic parish and school has the old “form letter” that states the amount of contribution, the 501(c)3 tax ID number, the date, the case, and the proper wording that says thank you for your gift. However, is that enough? I know some would think it was, and I am sure those who think that way would go on to add that they have so much to do that just getting these thank you letters out already takes so much time.

Well, we would like to offer two suggestions that address the above scenarios:

  1. Internally, we would like to recommend that every Catholic school and every parish develop an Affirmation and Appreciation Plan that seeks to personally and meaningfully reach out to every pastor, president, principal, teacher, student, staff member, employee, and volunteer who work hard in furthering the vision, mission, goals and plans of that Catholic institution – and say THANK YOU. Go ahead and form a CQI Team to develop that plan. Invite solutions and ideas from many. But, above all, we invite you to go a step beyond the norm of collectively thanking people at a large gathering and/or just sending them the “form letter” thank you. While we realize that is important, please try and bring whatever personalization you can to the table.
  2. In close connection to # 1, we encourage every Catholic institution to develop a personal approach (eyeball to eyeball) to saying THANK YOU to your donors. There are so many ways to thank people who financially support our parishes and schools, and we all need to be creative and meaningful. Invite response from donors and do everything you can to put together a plan that really makes people feel warm and appreciated.

In this season of Thanksgiving, it seems that it is the little things that make such a big difference.

Here’s wishing you and yours the very best Thanksgiving Season ever!




With the first class starting on Wednesday, January 10, 2018, The University of Dayton and the Institute for School and Parish Development (ISPD) announce their spring certificate course (for credit through UD) in Catholic School Development & Advancement: Understanding, Organizing and Implementing a Vibrant Catholic School Development/Advancement System. Designed by ISPD in coordination with The University of Dayton, this on-line course is tailor-made for Catholic leaders: pastors, presidents, principals, development/advancement directors, marketing committees, faculty and staff, board members, enrollment management directors, and volunteers. The cost of the course is at $75.00 per student for all 10 lessons. Students will also need to purchase the textbook and the workbook through NCEA (National Catholic Educational Association).

This is a five month course beginning Wednesday, January 10, 2018. Students will be able to earn Continuing Education Units (CEUs) from The University of Dayton and a Certificate of Completion from UD by participating in the ten classes from January 2018  – May 2018. If a student is unable to attend the “live” class, she/he will be able to make up the class by viewing a recording and completing the exercises required – on their own time. The class will be taught by Frank Donaldson, president of ISPD, and the lessons will follow the book (released in 2016) and the workbook (being released this fall 2017) he recently wrote which is available through NCEA: 25 Lessons Learned in 25+ Years in Catholic School Development.

For further information on the UD/ISPD spring course in Catholic School Development/Advancement, please go to: 

To register, please go to:

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