Last year St Leonard’s member and retired businessman Barry Schofield decided to try something different with Pancake Day, which is put on nationally by Uniting Church congregations and groups on Shrove Tuesday in February or the through the season of Lent.
“Previously Pancake Day was a gold coin donation to get a pancake,” Mr Schofield, who has been involved with the fundraising event for many years at St Leonard’s, said.
“It made a maximum of $200 and barely covered the cost of the pancakes.”
Mr Schofield decided that he had to get rid of the collections of $1 and $2 coins so last year he tried something new.
Pancakes were served without charge after the morning services at St Leonards (one traditional and one contemporary) but people were asked to put a donation in a bucket placed at the door of the church or at the morning tea venue.
An advantage of giving by donation, rather than effectively buying a pancake, is that people could put their gifts into envelopes and get receipts to make them tax deductible.
A week or two beforehand Mr Schofield began making short presentations during the services to explain the work that Share does in raising money for UnitingCare agencies to help the homeless and others doing it tough.
He also held the Pancake Day events on the two Sundays spanning Shrove Tuesday, reasoning not everyone can get to church on a given day.
This approach raised $2600.
“I challenged the congregation to make it $4000 this year,” Mr Schofield said.
This time around Mr Schofield researched the struggles of people experiencing homelessness and for four Sundays leading up to the first Pancake Day morning teas he gave a brief talk during the services encouraging people to give.
“I was telling stories about homeless people,” Mr Schofield said.
“We needed to dig deep … we were Gospel-bound to do something about it”
The approach proved stunningly successful.
“I have never seen so many $50 and $100 bills in my life,” Mr Schofield said after tallying the donations.
The final tally was $5550, with Mr Schofield throwing in an extra $5 to give reach the more nicely rounded figure.
Mr Schofield said the effort made in the lead-up to educate and engage church members was a decisive factor.
“What really helped us this year is that people learned where their money is going rather than just giving to a bottomless pit called charity,” he said.
It was an approach applauded by UnitingCare marketing and events manager Breanna Williamson.
“It’s so inspiring to see Barry’s passion for those who are living in crisis as he successfully hosted such a unique and innovative Pancake Day event,” she said.
“Barry’s enthusiasm seemed to be contagious as he educated his fellow church members and friends on the reality of homelessness in Australia and the importance to give – breaking new fundraising records for Pancake Day.”