Catholic Services Appeal lagging behind goal

| November 19, 2018 | 0 Comments

Leaders ask Catholics to contribute as part of year-end giving

The 2018 Catholic Services Appeal is about $488,000 in pledges behind where it was last year at this time, its leaders said Nov. 6. They hope to turn that around in order to meet its $9.8 million pledge goal by year-end.

“If they’ve given in prior years, please come back and support us in our time of need,” said Greg Pulles, treasurer of the Catholic Services Appeal Foundation board of directors, of CSA donors. “We’re projecting 6,000 [donors] short, and that means we’re cutting funding to these ministries and they really desperately need these funds.”

The Catholic Services Appeal provides funding to 18 ministries in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, including the seminaries, Catholic schools, and hospital and prison chaplains. In 2017, the appeal exceeded $9.8 million in cash pledged, and its leaders expected to raise a similar amount this year.

From the start, however, this year’s fundraising has failed to keep pace with last year’s milestones. The appeal also is down by about 6,000 donors, meaning people who contributed last year have yet to contribute again this year. In the past few years, the CSA has had about 40,000 total donors. Twelve years ago, about 76,000 people donated to the annual appeal. Meanwhile, large-gift donors, including those who are members of the CSAF’s Deo Gratias Society, have increased the size of their contributions, Pulles said. He said he’d like to see more small donors contribute, too. “You’ve got the unfortunate situation that fewer people are carrying the load as we move forward,” he said.

CSAF leaders don’t know what factors are influencing the downturn in donations or donor numbers, but they speculate that the “in-pew ask” during its February kick-off weekend in parishes didn’t get the attention that it did in 2017.

Last year, 115 parishes had met their parish goal at this point. This year, 105 parishes have met it so far. Parishes that meet goals for parishioners’ contributions receive a percentage of those contributions. The CSAF plans to pay out nearly $1.3 million in rebates to parishes who met the first goal deadline of Oct. 31.

Since the lag began so early in the year, CSAF leaders do not attribute the downturn to fallout from the U.S. clergy abuse scandal, although that is a concern for the 2019 campaign, acknowledged Jennifer Beaudry, CSAF executive director.

“There might be some people who are upset with the archdiocese [Church hierarchy], but the ministries themselves are serving people in the archdiocese [area]. It’s not funding anything direct for our archdiocese to use for their … [operational] funds,” said John Norris, CSAF board chairman.

The CSAF supports: American Indian ministry, the Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women; the University of Minnesota’s Newman Center; St. Paul’s Outreach; Catholic Charities; deaf ministry; Catholic elementary school scholarships and subsidies; Catholic high school scholarships; the archdiocesan Office of Evangelization; hospital chaplains; prison chaplains; Latino ministry; the archdiocesan Office of Marriage, Family and Life; St. John Vianney College Seminary; St. Paul Seminary; the archdiocesan Venezuelan mission; Rachel’s Vineyard Twin Cities; and parishes.

Beaudry said she hopes Catholics remember these ministries by including the CSA in their year-end giving. “This money … goes to these ministries that … can’t support themselves for the most part,” she said. “When we end up short, the ministries will feel it.”

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