For The Dialog
Bishop Malooly pleased by ‘generous response’ from Wave I parishes, Wave II effort begins in September
Twenty-one parishes participating in Wave I of the Sustaining Hope for the Future campaign have pledged almost $7.25 million to help the diocese and their local church.
The amount raised totals just under 80 percent of the combined goal for those parishes. In addition, three parishes conducting their own capital campaigns raised $5,300,000, which included almost $1.5 million for the diocese through Sustaining Hope for the Future.
“While we have a long way to go, I am pleased by the success of the campaign thus far,” Bishop Malooly said of the results. Sustaining Hope for the Future’s overall target of $28 million includes $10 million to strengthen the pension plan for past and many current diocesan lay employees; $3 million for the Trust for the Welfare and Retirement of Priests; $2 million for diocesan ministries, and $11.2 million for various parish needs.
More than $16 million has already been pledged, including over $3 million raised by Bishop Malooly and nearly $500,000 contributed by the priests of the diocese.
Thirty-three Wave II parishes will solicit pledges toward a combined target of $16,435,000. Wave II will officially begin Sept. 20-21, but the groundwork for Wave II has already begun.
The Steier Group consultants and diocesan development office are currently working with pastors and parish leadership teams to prepare for the second phase, which will conclude in early September with nine regional parish volunteer training sessions.
Bishop Malooly has termed the campaign vital so the diocese can get “back on an even footing” following a bankruptcy settlement in September 2011 that settled 150 claims of survivors of sexual abuse by priests and claims of other creditors.
“I am grateful for the sacrifice of the many parishioners who participated in Wave I,” he said. “Your generous response will help the diocese achieve the objectives of this campaign.”
While several Wave I parishes conducted successful campaigns, one-third of the 21 parishes substantially exceeded their goal, one by 36 percent and another by more than 50 percent.
“Their exceptional performance is an example for parishes in Wave II and encourages me to believe we will meet, if not surpass the overall goal of $28 million,” the bishop said.
Those seven included parishes large and small, wealthy and not so well off. Officials at four of those parishes discussed their success, offering tips for parishes that will participate in Wave II.
Pledging 110 percent
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Bear received pledges totaling almost 110 percent of its $573,999 goal. Father Roger DiBuo and campaign chair Tom Cupples followed a plan outlined by the Steier Group consulting team and the diocesan development office to devise a strategic plan aimed at informing parishioners about the campaign and why they should support it; soliciting advance pledges from donors who could make major gifts; launching the public portion of the campaign; keeping people informed of its progress, and finishing the drive.
Being frank and honest with parishioners early in the campaign was vital, Cupples said. Those attending receptions for potential major donors and a town hall meeting raised “some pretty good questions,” such as questioning “the wisdom of declaring bankruptcy as if it was a cowardly thing to do.”
Cupples had researched the bankruptcy settlement and concluded the settlement was anything but cowardly. Rather, it protected not only the diocese but individual parishes that were named in lawsuits, as well as provide something for each of the abuse victims who filed suit.
“The settlement absorbed all the liability for cases that parishes may have faced; it saved them from having to sell off assets which might have resulted in their closing,” he said.
Such “very open, very frank, very detailed” responses apparently swayed those questioners, based on the outcome, Cupples added.
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton personalized its campaign, again following the plan as presented by the Steier Group and diocese. On the official launch day, packets with the name of each of the 2,250 registered households awaited the congregation in the parish hall after each Mass. Father DiBuo led parishioners into the hall, where the packets were arranged by last name initial. Volunteers greeted parishioners and guided them to their packets. Those not picked up that weekend or the next were mailed.
Father DiBuo and Cupples utilized other recommended techniques to keep the campaign before parishioners, such as bulletin announcements, emails, and phone solicitations of those who had not yet made a pledge.
A prayer written for the Sustaining Hope for the Future campaign and personalized for St. Elizabeth Ann Seton was printed on prayer cards available in the pews.
“We recited the prayer at every Mass,” Cupples said. “People did pray the prayer. I thought that was important and a very thoughtful way of reminding people about the campaign.”
As the drive neared its end, campaign leaders developed what became a mantra: “We are so close.” Cupples developed a poster placed around the parish that featured Uncle Sam pointing his finger outward with the message “We want you because we are so close.”
Small parishes’ success
St. Patrick and St. Mary parishes in Wilmington, combined, have slightly more than one-tenth of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton’s registered households, yet each also exceeded its target, said Father Leonard Klein. St. Patrick, with 200 registered households, raised almost $160,000, or 117 percent of goal, while St. Mary’s 80 registered households pledged more than $52,000, or 113 percent of target.
Father Klein, pastor of both parishes, cited “a lot of advance education,” a sense of parish ownership, and keeping parishioners informed about the campaign as keys to the success.
“There are some things in which a small size is helpful,” he said. “I think people have a strong sense of ownership. Because we’re small we kept it simple.”
His parish team, led by chair Rick Bockrath, conveyed a message to parishioners: “You don’t have to give a lot, but please participate.”
Money returned to the parishes is earmarked for renovation of the towers and waterproofing work at St. Mary and for interior remodeling at St. Patrick. The amount rebated to the parishes will not cover the total costs for those projects but will defray some of the cost, he said.
St. Mary Refuge of Sinners in Cambridge, Md., raised 136 percent of its $200,000 target. Father Bill Lawler, pastor, attributed much of the success to his leadership team.
“We had some good volunteers … some very positive people,” he said. “I was able to get some real go-getter people who also had experience raising funds for the local hospital and YMCA, and brought their skills with them.”
The pastor plays a major role in the success of any parish fund-raising campaign, Father Lawler said. “Support from the pastor is really critical. I also made a pledge; I can’t ask people to do anything I would not be willing to do.”
Money returned to St. Mary Refuge of Sinners will help meet parish needs, both physical and spiritual, that will be included in a five-year plan being developed by the parish council. Father Lawler expects the parish’s funds will enable the parish to address more than half of St. Mary’s many capital needs.