The Catholic Foundation of Northern Colorado tried something new last week. To express their gratitude to donors with a personal touch, they organized a live TeleForum™ event with Denver Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila—giving the prelate a chance to say “thank you” firsthand.…
Approximately 17,000 donors of the ongoing New Harvest Campaign, a $35 million fundraising effort for Denver’s two seminaries, were invited to participate in the call that was held at 7 p.m. Jan. 22. About 5,500 people accepted the invitation.
Using TeleForum™ technology, the archbishop—along with Msgr. Michael Glenn, rector of St. John Vianney Theological Seminary—thanked donors for their support, provided an update on seminarians, and left the bulk of the 30-minute call open for questions.
“It is wonderful to be able to be with you,” Archbishop Aquila began, speaking from his office on the campus of the John Paul II Center. “And to, first of all, extend my deep gratitude to each and every one of you for your generosity to the New Harvest campaign.”
Following comments from the archbishop and Msgr. Glenn, time allowed for six participants to ask questions, and the call ended with a blessing by the archbishop. Callers were also able to leave questions and feedback on voicemail: a total of 76 follow-up questions and comments were received (see sidebar for a sampling).
“We believe the TeleForum™ event went really well,” said Deacon Steve Stemper, president and CEO of the foundation, who moderated the call. “Feedback indicated 93 percent of participants appreciated the foundation ‘reaching out’ to them in that way.”
Broadnet, the company that developed TeleForum™ events, considers it to be the most powerful and popular telephone town hall product in the world. For this event, the technology was donated by company CEO, Steve Patterson, who is Catholic.
“We’re glad we did it,” Deacon Stemper said. “A 90-plus percent approval rating indicates it went well.”
Though he realizes this type of technology isn’t for everyone.
“We recognize that not everyone would want to get a call from the archbishop,” he said, “we ask for their understanding as we tried this new option of leveraging the archbishop’s time to communicate with thousands at once.
“Some people may have been leery of taking a call, because unsolicited calls usually involve a solicitation,” he added. “But this call was simply to allow the archbishop and Msgr. Glenn to thank A New Harvest donors and answer their questions. We hope that if we try this again, even more people will participate.”
Campaign donors were invited to the TeleForum through an audio message, recorded by Deacon Stemper, delivered to their phones the night before the TeleForum.
Jim Broski, a longtime Serran and parishioner at St. Thomas More Parish in Centennial, participated in the call.
“I appreciated the call very much,” he told the Denver Catholic Register. “It’s one thing to read the words of the archbishop or Msgr. Glenn, but it’s another to hear them or be with them live … the call was productive and almost as personal as being in-person.”
He also appreciated the content.
“Money, fundraising push or goals were not talked about,” he added. “What came across was the Church was thanking the faithful in a genuine way. That was clear from the ‘get-go’ and I thought that was very nice.”
The team will assess feedback to determine if future TeleForum calls will be conducted.
To listen to a 30-minute rebroadcast of the Jan. 22 TeleForum, visit www.thecatholicfoundation.com.
This article originally appeared on archden.org