Catholic New World: Newspaper for the Archdiocese of Chicago

Campaign donations add up

By Michelle Martin

Parishioners and pastors responded to this year’s Annual Catholic Appeal as never before, and set the year-long campaign off to its best beginning ever.

More than 85,000 people have made pledges or gifts to the campaign, according to Barbara Shea Collins, director of development services in the archdiocese’s Department of Stewardship and Development. They have pledged $13.6 million, up from $10.9 million pledged or paid by 74,083 donors at the same time last year.

The money is used to support the work of the archdiocese, from grants and scholarships to needy parishes and schools to training catechists to promoting the dignity of human life.

“People now regard this as more of a campaign than a second collection,” said Raymond P. Coughlin, director of the department. “They know they can make a pledge and give more than they would if it was one-time collection.”

Collins and Coughlin credit the efforts of pastors, who have been asked to preach directly about the appeal for the past two years. Each pastor also is to play a recorded homily from Cardinal George.

“Catholics get a bum rap in all the surveys of church giving,” Coughlin said, noting Catholics have a reputation of being stingier with their church than members of other faiths. “I think Catholics are great givers—but you have to ask them.”

A provision in the program allows parishes to keep all money pledged by their parishioners over and above 6 percent of the parish’s annual offertory income.

Last year, 130 parishes surpassed their goals and received a total of $1.7 million in rebates, Coughlin said.

Parishes who follow the program set by the Department of Stewardship and Development are not penalized if they do not meet the goal, but those who choose not to follow the steps and do not meet the goal must make up the difference out of their own coffers.

Also helping spur donations is a law that allows people who are 70½ or older to donate money from their Individual Retirement Accounts directly to non-for-profit organizations. The law helps people make donations while keeping their tax liabilities low, said Mary Lyons Anderson, assistant director of planned giving.

That law will no longer be in effect after Dec. 31, 2007, unless Congress renews it, she said.

Collins noted that the appeal for this year isn’t over yet, as people often like to make end-of-the-year donations or gifts at other times depending on their financial circumstances.

For information on donations from IRAs, call Mary Lyons Anderson at (312) 751-7354.