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Increasing parish income


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October is an important month for many parishes in the Archdiocese of Boston because it is the most popular time for parish grand annual campaigns.

In many cases, grand annuals have become essential for parishes to meet their annual budget because these campaigns supplement a parish’s offertory collection. This is a change from the original intention of both the offertory and the grand annual collections.

The goal of the offertory collection is to cover all the ordinary expenses in the parish. Traditionally, the goal of the grand annual was either to provide additional income above the base budget of a parish to fund a special project or initiative, such as a key parish renovation, the addition of space for a parish ministry or to add to the parish’s “rainy day” fund in case of emergency. The fact that grand annual proceeds are now mainly used to cover the base budget of a parish leaves many parishes in a situation where they cannot expand or sustain ministries, and often places parishes in a crisis situation when emergency repairs are needed.

To help parishes to increase their offertory to cover all normal operating expenses and to help strengthen their grand annual collections, the Catholic Foundation of the Archdiocese of Boston has launched a series of initiatives. We encourage everyone to utilize these resources to assist their pastor and parish pastoral team in enhancing contributed income to the parish.

The newest initiative is the launch of ParishFundraisingBlog.com, which began in July of this year. This blog is a comprehensive resource for parish fundraising and stewardship. It provides pastors, parish staff members and parish lay leaders a resource from which to start their research on increasing the funds available to further their parish’s ministries, programs, and mission. It shares best practices, helpful articles, interviews with pastors and professional fundraising counsel, seminar summaries and other resources. We hope that it will serve as a first stop for anyone seeking information on how their parish can promote greater stewardship. More than 150 articles have already been placed on the blog and it has received positive feedback from pastors locally and throughout the country. We have even had international visits and inquiries from 10 countries in the first months of the blog. We encourage you to make a visit the next time you are online.

Another initiative that we began in 2008 and continued this year is the publication of a special issue of The Pilot on parish stewardship and fundraising. This year’s issue was published on Sept. 18 and contained 29 articles on various aspects of parish stewardship and fundraising. A number of parishes locally have given copies of the entire issue to their parish finance and pastoral councils to help with planning for the upcoming year. Please contact The Catholic Foundation if you would like copies for your parish or visit ParishFundraisingBlog.com to view the entire issue.

The third initiative is to expand our Fall Fundraising Forums, which we began in 2007. We target these presentations to all pastors, parochial vicars, business managers, pastoral associates, parish council members, stewardship committees and everyone interested in helping parishes secure additional resources to sustain and expand their mission. We are offering four sessions this year, all at the Pastoral Center in Braintree:

-- Parish Fundraising from A to Z: Learn 3-5 steps to improve every area of parish fundraising. Oct. 15, 2009 from 10-12 p.m.

-- Offertory Envelope and Parish Bulletin Provider Forum: Meet representatives from parish bulletin and electronic offertory providers. Ensure you have the best provider for your parish. Oct. 15 from 1-4 p.m.

-- Launching and Growing an Electronic Giving Program: Discover why electronic giving raises parishioner contributions 20-33 percent and understand how best to enroll parishioners. Nov. 19 from 10 a.m.-12.

--Forming a Catholic Legacy Society chapter in your parish: Learn about the archdiocese’s new Catholic Legacy Society. Discover how forming a parish chapter can turbocharge your parish or school’s promotion of planned gifts and provide opportunities for catechesis and evangelization on Catholic end-of-life issues. Nov. 19 from 1-4 p.m.

To register for the fall fundraising forums, please visit www.ParishFundraisingBlog.com/2009FallForum or call 617-779-3704.

As we enter this critical period for parish fundraising, I ask you to pray for the success of parish grand annual campaigns, and that parishioners who have the means in this economic downturn will be even more generous than they have been in the past. Please also pray that these three initiatives will bear fruit and help the many parishes of the Archdiocese of Boston increase their offertories and grand annual collections, allowing them to sustain and grow their holy mission of bringing people to Christ and bringing Christ to the world.

Scot Landry is Secretary for Institutional Advancement at the Archdiocese of Boston.

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