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Three Diocese of Wilmington schools find success in National Catholic Education Association’s Day of Giving initiative

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These students at St. Mary Magdalen pack lunches that were donated to the three Emmanuel Dining Rooms during a service initiative a year ago. Dialog file photo

A recent fundraising initiative by the National Catholic Education Association was a big success for three schools in the Diocese of Wilmington. Of the 175 schools that took part in the 2022 “Many Gifts, One Nation: A Day of Giving to Catholic Schools” during Catholic Schools Week, three of the top five in gifts received were from the Diocese of Wilmington.

St. Mary Magdalen in Brandywine Hundred topped the list at $86,881.80. They were followed by St. John the Beloved in Pike Creek, with $82,896.72, and St. Ann in Wilmington, which raised $40,903.80, the fourth-highest total.

The third-highest was raised by St. William the Abbott School in Seaford, N.Y., which is Bishop Koenig’s former parish, and St. Maria Goretti in Westfield, Ind., rounded out the top five.

Patrick Tiernan, the principal of St. Mary Magdalen, said the NCEA started this a few years ago, and his school joined in. St. Mary Magdalen’s efforts have included matching gifts and renewed giving, and it has paid off.

“We started it a few years ago, and we’ve been trying to raise the bar,” he said.

The secret to a successful campaign lies with all of the work done before the actual day of giving, he said. It is important to communicate with donors. This year, the school had a pledge of $30,000 from an anonymous donor if the school was able to raise the same amount.

This is not the only fundraiser for St. Mary Magdalen, although it is the largest, Tiernan said. The school also produces a “gratitude report” at the end of the year that shows how the money was spent.

According to the NCEA, close to $1.2 million was raised for participating schools on the Day of Giving. Some 7,200 donations were made, with an average of $163.

Tiernan will be speaking at the 2022 NCEA convention in New Orleans on philanthropy and fundraising. His talk is titled, “Funding the Kingdom: What Catholic Leaders Need to Know About Philanthropy in 2022.” He was selected from hundreds of potential presenters.

“It’s paramount for Catholic leaders to become familiar with the latest research in fundraising and philanthropic efforts that can ensure the long-term solvency of our schools,” he told NCEA. “We need to engage in honest dialogue about financial strategies that will empower our collective mission and identity.”