Catholic Services Appeal aims to raise $6.9 million to fund 20 ministries

| February 13, 2020 | 0 Comments

This year’s campaign launches Feb. 22-23

The scene might feel familiar: A priest stands at the front of his church and asks the congregation to sit and learn about the annual Catholic Services Appeal.

People groan. Eyes roll. A baby cries.

As the priest talks, a basket passes from person to person as they add their donation envelopes. Until it gets to a young guy with a beard: “Frank.” Frank doesn’t put anything in the basket. Then he realizes that a voice speaking about the appeal is talking to him. He tries to explain — in a hushed, talking-in-church-sort-of-way — why he didn’t give. “I don’t know where the money for the appeal goes,” he says.

“No problem, Frank,” says the voice, before launching into a list of the variety of people and ministries that are helped by the appeal each year. At the end, Frank is excited to give.

The scene is from this year’s Catholic Services Appeal video, which parishes will be showing Feb. 22-23, the Catholic Service Appeal’s 2020 commitment weekend. The Catholic Services Appeal Foundation board wanted to include some humor about the annual campaign — they get that the appeal might sound like just another annoying request for money. But they also wanted to convey that the donations people give make a significant difference in every corner of the Archdiocese of
St. Paul and Minneapolis.

“It’s really something fresh and new,” said Jennifer Beaudry, the Catholic Services Appeal Foundation’s executive director, about the three-minute video. “We wanted to do something completely different to grab people’s attention and hopefully grab some of those younger donors that we don’t currently have.”

Led by an 18-member board — 12 laypeople and four priests — the CSAF is an independent nonprofit that funds 20 local ministries. It’s been a separate organization from the archdiocese since 2013.

Last year, the CSAF received about $9,062,000 in pledges, $238,000 short of its goal. Of the 186 parishes in the archdiocese, 118 met their parish goal, and eight made 90% of their goal. Last year, the goal was $9.3 million; the 2020 goal is
$9 million.

This year, CSAF leaders are changing how they approach their goal. Instead of focusing on an overall total, they’re emphasizing a goal of raising $6.9 million for the ministries. In addition, they need to cover $900,000 for administrative costs — a modest figure for this type of direct mail campaign, Beaudry said. They also expect to return more than $1.2 million to parishes through a revamped parish-sharing program.

CSAF MINISTRIESAbria Pregnancy Resources
American Indian ministry
Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women (ACCW)
Campus Ministry – Newman Center
Campus Ministry – St. Paul’s Outreach
Catholic Charities
Deaf ministries
Elementary school funding
Elementary school scholarships
High school scholarships
Hospital chaplains
Latino ministry
Marriage, Family and Life
Prison ministry
Rachel’s Vineyard Twin Cities
St. Vincent de Paul Society
Seminarian tuition, room and board
Venezuelan mission
Youth and young adults

Chad Trochlil, CSAF board president and a member of St. Peter in Mendota, sees donating to the appeal as a natural extension of Catholics’ parish giving.

“From a parishioner standpoint, you want to support your local parish that you go to, but the next thing you want to look at is, what’s going on in your diocese,” said Trochlil, payroll manager for St. Paul-based Bremer Bank. “And that’s really what the Catholic Services Appeal Foundation does, is that it serves those ministries within the archdiocese. So you’re taking a step beyond your parish.”

Most — if not all — Catholics in the archdiocese benefit from ministries the CSAF funds, its leaders say. But Catholics may not have thought about how these ministries are funded.

For Beaudry, the prime examples are hospital chaplains.

“I always think, what if I was in the hospital and there was no one to give me … anointing of the sick? Or what if there was no one to give me Communion?” she asked. “And that’s something just basic: that we always assume, when you go to a hospital, … there’s going to be a Catholic priest there. And that’s because of money that the Catholic Services Appeal Foundation gives. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be funded, and they would have to have funding another way.”

CSAF calculates individual parish goals based on the prior fiscal year’s parish plate and envelope collection, and whether it also supports a school. To incentivize parish giving, the CSAF returns a percentage of funds raised in a parish.

Beginning with the 2020 campaign, parishes that raise more than 100% of their goal will receive 50% of whatever they raise in addition. Meanwhile, parishes that collect more than they did during last year’s campaign will receive a “parish-sharing” amount with 25% of the difference between last year and this year’s totals.

“It’s just a small incentive to try to motivate parishes,” Beaudry said. “If they can’t hit their goal, they can at least do better than they did last year.”

In the past, parishes that hit their goal received 25% of their total funds raised. The change “was needed because we were giving $1.8 million in rebates, and really, what this should be about is the ministries,” Beaudry said. “So by changing to this new parish-sharing plan, this gives more money to the ministries, which is where this should go.”

The changes were modeled after best practices used by other U.S. archdioceses and dioceses, and they are expected to help both parishes and the CSAF hit their goals, Trochlil said.

Also new this year is an improved mobile and online giving option at Beaudry hopes that parishes will switch from using envelopes to inviting people to give via their phones during the annual in-pew ask.

“We’re hoping to down the road eliminate the in-pew giving envelope and just do everything electronically, because that’s the direction all annual funds are moving,” she said. “Everything is more digital than it used to be, so that’s the way we need to go.”

The board would welcome seeing more new donors, even if they’re making smaller gifts, Beaudry said. “We would love it if everybody (participated), even if they could give $10 — that would be great,” she said. “We need to get that participation up across the board.”

About 30,900 people donated in 2019 — 3,000 fewer than in 2018.

Last year’s fundraising goal shortfall means that some of the ministries the CSAF supports didn’t receive the total funding the CSAF hoped to provide, Beaudry said. But, “we were still able to bring in quite a bit of money,” she said. “Catholics are still very generous in this archdiocese, and we need to get more people involved with the Catholic Services Appeal.”

Beaudry added: “As a Catholic community, it’s our duty to actually give and support these different ministries that can’t … support themselves on their own.”

Catholic Services Appeal

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