Seminars aim to offer parishes new fundraising techniques

BRIGHTON -- The Archdiocese of Boston is launching three free seminars aimed at helping parishes raise funds. Beginning this fall, the Catholic Foundation will offer seminars on electronic offertory on Sept. 19, planned giving on Oct. 18 and annual reporting on Nov. 15.

Scot Landry, the archdiocese’s secretary for advancement and chief development officer, said that the 2007 Fall Fundraising Forums are meant to bring parishes new techniques for encouraging contributions.

“What we hope to do is to bring [the]best practices of different parish fundraising options to the archdiocese and to each one of our parishes,” he said. “It’s part of the mission of the Catholic Foundation to help encourage ways to fund the mission of the Church.”

Landry added that the forums are a direct result of a request by Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley.

“When Cardinal Seán asked me to take on the responsibility of the advancement offices, one of his objectives for me was to try to increase the number of fundraising or stewardship tools that we provide to parishes,” he said.

On each day that a forum is offered, there will be two identical events with morning and afternoon sessions. They will be held in Peterson Hall auditorium at St. John’s Seminary in Brighton, and lunch will be provided.

The forums are offered free of charge to encourage participation, Landry said.

“We want as many people to participate as possible,” he said. “One parish might be struggling to make ends meet week to week. That’s what we’re trying to address.”

The first seminar on Sept. 19 will bring leading vendors in the field of electronic offertory, including ParishPay and FaithDirect, to the archdiocese. Participants will have the opportunity to share ideas with priests and business managers from other parishes.

Both parishioners and parishes benefit from electronic offertory. Parishioners can donate automatically, and parishes will have a weekly offertory they can count on, according to a Catholic Foundation statement on the forums.

At the second seminar on Oct. 18, parishes will have an opportunity to examine a legacy giving program, customized by The Catholic Foundation and TrustDesign, a leading provider of financial planning advice. Select Boston-area parishes will participate in the program next year.

“According to research by the Center on Wealth and Philanthropy at Boston College, the next 50 years will see an unprecedented $1.25 trillion passed between generations in the Boston area. An estimated $172 billion of those funds will be donated to charity as a means of creating a family legacy through bequests,” said the Catholic Foundation statement. “Competition among charities for the planned giving portion of those funds will be intense and those gifts will be critical to providing ongoing financial support for the Church’s mission for decades to come,” the statement continued.

This year’s final seminar on Nov. 15 will be led by Craig Gibson, an expert in parish reporting and a member of the Catholic Foundation’s board of governors. Gibson will show how transparency and accountability in parish annual reports lead to the increased confidence of parishioners. Such reports give parishioners confidence in their parish and their charitable giving, the statement said.

Anyone who has an interest in helping their parish fund its mission are invited to attend. The primary participants will be pastors, pastoral associates, business managers as well as members of parish stewardship committees and finance and pastoral councils.

Landry added that future pastors are welcome to attend.

“We have many seminarians and parochial vicars that will be pastors in our archdiocese sometime soon, God willing, and we hope that many of them will be able to participate in this to get exposure to some of the best practices before they have to assume the significant responsibilities of being a pastor,” he said.

Those interested in the forums can register online at www.BostonCatholicAppeal.org/FallForums or by calling 617-779-3700.

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