Charity, transparency at heart of Catholic Services Appeal

| February 11, 2015 | 0 Comments


That’s how Tim Healy described the atmosphere surrounding the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis a year ago, as allegations of child sexual abuse by members of local clergy surfaced, and media stories quoted Catholics who described diminished trust in archdiocesan leadership.

Tim Healy

Tim Healy

“When you look at the number of articles and negative news,” Healy said, “we all wondered, how is that ill will going to translate to the appeal?”

The answer is in the result. The 2014 Catholic Services Appeal received more than $10 million in pledges, comfortably surpassing its goal of $9.3 million.

As of this writing, more than $9.9 million in cash has been received on the pledges, and more than $8.6 million already has been distributed to Catholic ministries and parishes within the archdiocese.

Starting with the 2014 appeal, appeal gifts were managed by the Catholic Services Appeal Foundation, established in 2013, not the archdiocese.

In a roundtable discussion, Healy, Greg Pulles and John Norris — members of the foundation board — talked about the challenges the new foundation faced and the factors that explain why the past year’s appeal was successful in such a challenging environment. Jennifer Beaudry, CSAF executive director, joined the conversation as well.

“If I heard it once I heard it a thousand times,” Pulles said. “People told me, ‘I’m not going to give one dime for lawyers.’”

The foundation was formed to honor donor intent with complete transparency, Pulles said. “People can give knowing their money is going to go where they intended it to go.”

Beaudry, who formerly worked on the Catholic Services Appeal for the development office of the archdiocese, said the basic structure of the appeal was the same for 2014 as it has been in previous years.

It’s a parish campaign, with some 48,000 donors. There were few large gifts for more than $1,000, but the majority of gifts were in the $50 to $500-$600 range.

The average gift was just more than $200.

Of the total donations, an average of 20 percent — $1.8 million — is returned to parishes for their own ministries.

In the past, money donated to the Catholic Services Appeal, and to its predecessor, the Annual Catholic Appeal, went to the specific ministries that were promoted those years, Beaudry said, but appeal funds were not kept separately from other revenue in the archdiocese’s bookkeeping.

Now, with the creation of the Catholic Services Appeal Foundation, donations to the appeal are kept separately, she said, making it clear that donations collected for the appeal go to the ministries for which they were donated.

Meet the board

Catholic Services Appeal Foundation board members

Bill Morhman
Mohrman & Kaardal

Bob Conroy
Communications consultant
Create-A-Video Picture Maker

Chad Trochlil
Payroll manager
Bremer Bank

Gracia Cavanaugh
Financial planner
Cavanaugh Financial Group

Gregory Pulles
Retired general counsel
TCF Financial Corporation

Jarod Allerheiligen
Managing partner
Grant Thornton, accountants

John Norris
President and CEO
Atscott Manufacturing Inc.

Kathy Schneeman
With husband Eric, former chair couple,
Catholic Services Appeal

Lisa Gott
With husband Steve, former chair couple,
Catholic Services Appeal

Marie Ziesmer
Client coordinator
Southwest Options for Women (formerly Minnetonka Life-Care Center)

Patrick Gaughan
President and owner
Gaughan Companies, commercial, construction, development and real estate management firm

Renee Allerheiligen
Professional leadership and organization character development consultant, facilitator, and speaker
Avila Leadership

Susan Byrne
Retired nurse

Tim Healy
Team Spine Minnesota LLC, surgical and medical instrument distributor

Telling the story with clarity

So what was different in 2014?

The group voiced several factors.

A renewed effort in being clear about how appeal funds were used was key, Norris said.

He and other members of the board heard questions from friends and business acquaintances who were concerned about where the money would go, he said.

They answered, explaining about the 17 ministries that received funds from the foundation, how board members had visited those ministries, how impressed they were, and how the foundation was keeping their finances accountable.

CSAF_Logo“To listen to some of these groups and see how this [the appeal] impacts people is pretty eye-opening,” Norris said, which stressed for him how important it was to “get the word out” about where the funds go. “We were able to tell them [donors] that story, one-on-one,” he added, “and we were able to put a renewed emphasis on how important this funding is to those ministries.”

Pulles said he often heard people say they had decreased their gift to the appeal or stopped giving altogether because, in their words, “I’m trying to send a message to the archdiocese and the archbishop.”

“Our response,” Pulles said, “was, ‘Don’t take out your anger against these 17 ministries that serve the Church.’ So many of these charities depend on the money from the Catholic Services Appeal. Whole ministries would have to be shut down.” (See the list of funded ministries and grant totals in the box on page 16.)

Priests’ support of the appeal was crucial, too.

Healy, who is president of the foundation, conceived the idea of a priest-advisory committee to help the clergy understand the separation of the appeal from the archdiocese, and to be able to support the appeal in their parishes.

“The greatest success, I thought, was meeting with the priests and getting them excited, getting their buy-in,” Healy said. “They appreciated being part of the process.”

Beaudry said the influence that board members had on their friends in the business world, who have influence in their own communities, cannot be discounted.

Clarity of purpose

The video that promoted the Catholic Services Appeal was another positive element, Pulles said. Reinforcing the renewed emphasis, it was clear about where appeal money went.

A challenge that continues is one that has been aired publicly, that there is a perception that the archdiocese created the Catholic Services Appeal Foundation to shelter assets as it moves through Chapter 11 Reorganization.

Healy said the foundation is trying to be transparent, noting that when the foundation was created it received no money from the archdiocese.

“We’re not hiding the assets of the archdiocese,” Pulles added. “The foundation was founded so that donors could see their money go in and to go out to whom they want it to.”

As a result, money donated to the Catholic Services Appeal doesn’t go to lawyers or the archdiocese’s creditors, Pulles said.

“Any gifts we have received have been specifically designated for these specific ministries,” he said.

Rather than sheltering archdiocesan assets, Norris said, “the reverse is true. [The Catholic Services Appeal Foundation] is a place where donors’ money is safe and will be used for the advertised intent.”

A separate board, checking account, database and software, as well as renting office space in the archdiocese’s Hayden Center at 328 W. Kellogg Blvd. in St. Paul, are all measures the foundation has taken to ensure that new money donated to support a ministry is used for that specific purpose, foundation board members said.

All of the foundation’s board members are volunteers. Beaudry and data specialist Judy Lehnen are the only employees.

The good work must go on

In 2015, the foundation is working toward success similar to 2014’s Catholic Services Appeal. The goal is the same as last year, $9.3 million.

Commitments to support the appeal will be sought in parishes across the archdiocese the weekend of Feb. 14-15.

“We were all surprised by the generosity of the people to last year’s appeal,” Healy said.

Trying to put into words what Catholics of the archdiocese said by supporting the Catholic Services Appeal, Healy said simply, “We care. We’re going to support those people in need.”

He added, “People see the good work of the Church and know it has to go on.”

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Category: Catholic Services Appeal