CUF committed to financial security, faith-filled charity

| Debbie Musser | February 11, 2020 | 0 Comments

Volunteers help assemble personal care kits for people in need at a Catholic United Financial Gather4Good event Sept. 15 at Immaculate Conception in Columbia Heights. More than 175 volunteers assembled 2,000 kits, bringing the program’s 10-year total to 41,000 kits.

In the midst of raising four children under the age of 8, working as a faith formation coordinator, obtaining her master’s degree and writing her second book, financial planning isn’t necessarily top-of-mind for Andrea Zachman.

“But Nathan and I really wanted to get things in order and understand our assets, life insurance and where all of our money is,” she said.

The couple, parishioners of St. Michael in St. Michael, worked with Joe Johnston, sales representative for Catholic United Financial.

“Joe put everything ‘financial’ about us on one beautiful sheet of paper, showing our assets and where our deficiencies were; I was really impressed,” Zachman said. “We placed life insurance on us and each child, and Joe connected us with an attorney to discuss our will and power of attorney. This gives us big peace of mind.”

The Zachmans were familiar with CUF because Nathan’s parents purchased life insurance for him when he was born. “We wanted our children to receive the same benefit that Nathan did,” said Zachman, 37.

“Plus, we support CUF’s mission to help our school and parish,” she added. “Our family is investing with them because they in turn are investing in our faith and the Catholic mission of being disciples of Christ.”

One of the largest financial life insurance companies in the upper Midwest and headquartered in Arden Hills, CUF serves more than 75,000 members in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Iowa. Its total assets now exceed $1 billion, a major milestone.

“That’s a sign of having been a trusted partner for thousands of people for hundreds of years,” said Harald Borrmann, CUF president, CEO and board chair. “We don’t have shareholders. We are member-owned. They believe in us and what we believe in.”

In 1878, Catholic German immigrant families in St. Paul banded together to form CUF, with assets of $635.73. The 485 charter members were concerned about men dying early in life and leaving their families with no means of financial support.

Over the years, CUF has gone by several names, including Catholic Aid Association from 1954-2010.

“We started with very simple life insurance and have expanded our offerings to term, whole life and universal life insurance, annuities, Medicare supplement health insurance and retirement products to meet the needs of Catholics and their families,” Borrmann said.

SCHOOLS RAFFLESince 2009, the Catholic Schools Raffle has raised more than $8 million for Catholic schools in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. As sole sponsor, Catholic United Financial covers all expenses including raffle tickets, promotional materials and prizes.

“Students at participating schools sell raffle tickets for $5 each, and 100 percent of the money is kept by the school,” said Tom Schisler, CUF director of sales who helped start the raffle.

“Last year, more than 89 schools raised $1.2 million.”

“Our school has found the raffle to be such a successful fundraiser,” said Jane Bona, principal at Immaculate Conception in Columbia Heights. “Because of the generosity of CUF, we’ve been able to invest in software programs encompassing math, social studies and language arts, as well as Spanish literature books, which support our teaching of Spanish.”

This year’s six-week ticket selling period runs through March 1, culminating in a March 12 drawing at CUF headquarters. Former Minnesota Viking Matt Birk is the emcee, and Kathryn Kueppers, Miss Minnesota and longtime CUF member, will draw the winning tickets.

CUF is giving away $40,000 in raffle prizes, including a 2020 Buick Encore and a $5,000 vacation package, as well as smart TVs, Apple watches and Amazon gift cards. “We also give each school a prize for their top seller and a pizza party for the classroom selling the most tickets,” Schisler said.

Beyond contributing to the financial well-being of its members, CUF’s profits are returned to local Catholic communities in the five states where it serves. This includes $18 million in grants for Catholic religious education programs since 1980, and more than
$4 million in awards to over 8,000 members seeking college tuition or job training assistance.

“CUF has many ways of helping parishes and schools financially, including technology grants, funding for chastity education and co-sponsorship matching grants, so hundreds of dollars can be added to simple fundraisers like bingo and breakfasts,” said Father Stan Mader, pastor of St. Joseph in Waconia.

“Several of the schools I’ve been involved with have been part of the CUF Catholic Schools Raffle,” Father Mader said. “We always raised between $10,000 and $20,000, even for a very small school. I’m also working with CUF to have some representatives come out to be part of a workshop we are providing to young families on budgeting and saving.”

Another impactful CUF program is Gather4Good, where volunteers assemble personal care kits for food shelves, homelessness and abuse shelters. CUF coordinates the service project and funds the kits, which include personal messages of encouragement to the recipients.

“We also provide disaster assistance through Catholic United Response, showing up at disaster sites throughout the upper Midwest for relief and cleanup,” Borrmann said.

Borrmann is particularly proud of CUF’s Monsignor Richard J. Schuler Seminarian Fund, which helps seminarians with basic living expenses so they can concentrate on their studies and answer their call to the priesthood.

“The fund is for things like an oil change for their car — the seminary doesn’t pay for that,” Borrmann said. “It’s proven to be very heartwarming, and by the end of the year, that fund should be at $1 million.”

CUF sees a bright future. “We have members today whose families were among our founders in 1878, and members who discovered us a month ago at a volunteer event,” Borrmann said.

“People are searching for organizations like ours that are mission-driven. For financial services, we’re an awfully good option. Ours is a great business model, and a great way to give back to Catholic communities.“

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