Bake sales are passé. Fish fry dinners are so last Lent. This year Corpus Christi Church in Buffalo turned to the online community to kick start its newest fundraising campaign.
The volunteer "Friends of Corpus Christi" parish community launched an Indiegogo campaign last month to raise $30,000 online as part of its needed $162,000 to repair the north tower of the church. With the goal deadline approaching on July 7, the community has only raised a little more than $3,000 as of late June.
Lucia Ederer, president of "Friends of Corpus Christi," is hoping for a late surge of donors in the final weeks of the campaign. The committee needs to make its goal to help secure funds for a $400,000 grant from New York state to help with restoration costs.
"We've completed a few major projects on the church," she said. "We've completed the roof and the south tower. We hope that we will be successful with this one, but sometimes the last few dollars are the hardest to raise."
The committee has helped raise funds to repair and preserve the East Side landmark church for a decade now. They have raised a total of $1.6 million over that time frame through traditional fundraising methods, like grants, direct mail solicitation and private donations.
But for its latest effort, the group looked at the recent trend of online campaigns, popularized in the media through sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter. People all over the world have begun to use these types of sites to raise funds for various efforts, such as start-up costs for a business or even a book, album or movie. The 2014 movie "Veronica Mars," based on the cancelled TV series of the same name, raised more than $2 million in less than 24 hours last year during its Kickstarter campaign, with an eventual total of $5.7 million.
"We have raised quite a bit of money for the restoration and preservation of Corpus Christi," Ederer said. "We have tried all the traditional and usual fundraising techniques, and so what was left was social media. We thought it can't hurt to try it."
Ederer points out that online fundraising helps generate a new donor base, including people from out of town.
"It's just one more layer," she said. "It takes a lot of involvement with people to promote through their emails and so on to promote the cause."
Donations to Corpus Christi's Indiegogo page, regardless if they meet their goal, go to the committee to pay for restorations. Ederer said their group is comprised of volunteers who don't get paid, and outside of administrative costs to the Indiegogo site, the donations go directly to the church.
"It still takes a person who has a heart for a place and doesn't want to see it deteriorate any further," she said. "Every penny is spent on restoration. It's been a real work of love."
While she acknowledges that donations to restore a church tower may not be as popular as an engraved brick, Ederer is thankful that the community has been very responsive thus far.
"We have tried as many different ways to raise money that we know of," she said. "If people are steadfast and diligent, it can be done. It doesn't have to be built in a day, like Rome."
To donate to the campaign, go to the Indiegogo.com site. After the online campaign, checks may be sent to the "Preservation Fund" directly to the church.