Catholic Appeal Update

BCI is on a lighter blogging schedule this week due to some other pressing commitments.  Today we share with you some details on how the 2011 Catholic Appeal is doing.

As we mentioned in Fundraising Fiefdom earlier this month, aside from expansion of the fundraising fiefdom, the results of the Catholic Appeal 2011 recently communicated to parishes show they are running about the same as the Catholic Appeal of 2010 in dollar-amount of pledges at this time in the year. That means that unless something dramatically changes, the appeal is likely to raise substantially less than the Catholic Appeal of 2009 for the second year in a row, and with several thousand fewer donors giving than in previous years.

Because the archdiocese said the Boston Catholic Development Services group was aiming for greater accountability in the new organization, BCI thought we would help them out towards achieving their goal of accountability by sharing some more details on their fundraising goals and progress with faithful Catholics.

According to this email sent to parishes in mid-August, the Appeal has raised “nearly $11 million.”  53 parishes have exceeded their goals, and 143 parishes are at 70% or better.  Sources tell BCI this comes from about 40,736 donors.

The goal is to raise $14 million in 2011 from about 58,000 donors, an 11% increase over the $13M raised in 2010, which would still be down $1 million from the $15 million raised in 2009.

One might ask, how does this compare vs how the appeal was doing at this point last year?  Good question.  By means of comparison, in August 2010, there were pledges of $10.6 million from 42,750 contributors.

So, the amount of pledges is about the same in 2011 vs 2010, but the number of contributors is down by about 2,000.  That suggests if the pledge rate keeps up at its current pace, they are likely tracking to more like $13 million raised and not the $14 million goal.  In addition, it seems to BCI that BCDS should be mighty concerned about the dropping number of donors.

As BCI observed in “Fundraising Fiasco” earlier this year, from published information we know that 48,838 people donated in 2009, and the number of donors had ranged between about 48,000 and 49,000+ over the 2004-2009 period.  In 2010, suddenly the number of donors dropped to 46,099–nearly 3,000 fewer people than donated the year before–and the average donation per-person also dropped. Now, if you compare 2010 vs 2011 to date, they have lost another 2,000 donors who had given as of this time last year.

Though the economic climate is no doubt a contributor to the fundraising challenges, BCI suggests once again that ongoing distrust in the financial/administrative leadership of the archdiocese is a factor to not be ignored. Every place that BCI turns, we hear parishioners in the pews saying they are unhappy that so many people in the Pastoral Center are earning six-figure salaries–and even more troubling, the salaries above $200K–the Superintendent of Schools, the General Counsel, the Chancellor, the head of Catholic Media, the Secretary for Institutional Advancement and other people in fundraising.  Little seems to have happened with the problems of excessive 6-figure salaries while parishes run in the red, and we continue seeing sham searches, deception, cronyism, conflicts of interest for many “open searches,” broken promises about funding pensions,  six weeks of paid vacation for the Chancellor, underqualified lay executives in high-paying positions, and more.  We asked this in February and will ask it again: Has it still not occurred to anyone at 66 Brooks Drive that people are sick and tired of all this and are fighting back to regain Catholic values in the archdiocese the only way they know how to–via their checkbooks?

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is at least saying the right things in their battle against corruption.  The Boston Globe today reports:

More than two decades of failed oversight have allowed the state’s special education collaboratives to misspend millions of taxpayer dollars, according to the state auditor’s office, which has found a pattern of excessive salaries, conflicts of interest, and possible pension law violations at six of the 30 publicly funded agencies….

“These common findings are indicative of a system that’s lacking in standards and oversight and is easily manipulated by folks who are not putting the interests of taxpayers and special needs kids first,’’ Auditor Suzanne M. Bump said yesterday….

Yesterday, state Education Commissioner Mitchell D. Chester released a statement saying he welcomed Bump’s findings, adding that they will be reviewed next month by a special committee on collaboratives established earlier this summer.”

In the Boston Archdiocese, no one at 66 Brooks seems willing to acknowledge or do anything about a pattern of excessive salaries, conflicts of interest, and breaches of promises made to lay employees about their pension benefits. A Finance Council Compensation Committee–chaired by a multi-millionaire business executive–was formed to study and review compensation. But BCI sees their effort as problemmatic for reasons cited previously, including the plans for them to spend yet more money to engage a consultant to study the issue; apparent failure to inexpensively survey other dioceses in-house and benchmark against them; the lack of publicly-stated goals, success metrics and accountabilities for these key positions; the lack of any public reporting on the work of the committee; extended timeframe (2012) for any results to be released; and questions of whether they will drive any meaningful changes or just try to justify the status quo.

BCI wants to see the Catholic Church in Boston flourish and continue the saving ministry of Jesus Christ.  But the current approach to management still leaves much evidence that the “system” is easily manipulated by folks who are not putting the interests of the ministry and Catholic faithful first.

If the Massachusetts state government can publicly acknowledge their problems and put plans in place to address them, why not the Archdiocese of Boston?  Perhaps this is another topic for the new Vicar General to take up after he arrives.  What do you think?

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17 Responses to Catholic Appeal Update

  1. Presbyter says:

    Good post but one little quibble…Massachusetts is a Commonwealth not a State, technically speaking. Sorry, but that stuff bugs me. Lol.

  2. Bob of Newton says:

    I am a newbie on here but wish to thank you (BCI) for all you have done and contiue to do for the RCAB.
    Best regards.

  3. Concerned Catholic says:

    I thought the new “all star” fundraising team, led by Connors, Kaneb, McDonough and their hand-selected new Dev head Driscoll, promised to raise 25 million for the Appeal. Looks like they’re headed toward 2.5 mill.

  4. Poor Parish Priest says:

    I do want the Catholic Appeal to do well because it supports some important offices. But the new Appeal strategy is much more elitist now and focused toward the big gifts. The focus is on the South Shore and other wealthy communities not the cities and larger parishes.

    I think the development office would think that the average gift size (same money but divided by fewer gifts) being up this year is a good sign – that shows it is being more weighted to the bigger gifts.

    Overall I think the big gift strategy is doomed for failure. Most of the wealthy want to support projects like Catholic Charities and projects where they can control that their support goes to a particular new building or to underwrite a particular role. That’s not what the Catholic Appeal is about. Faithful Catholics giving $50 or $100 is what helped make it reach the fifteen million mark a couple of times in a row. Not a good sign for the short or long term health of the Archdiocese that there are 5% fewer givers this year.

    • rf5580 says:

      Very good observation. They must realize that many faithful Catholics are tired of the nonsense and corruption in the archdiocesan administration and now give to other Catholic groups who know what they are doing.

  5. Mack says:

    I agree with the poor parish priest. One source I found said there’s about 1.8 million Catholics in the RCAB, and about 315,000 regularly attend Mass. Even if each of those 315,000 gave 20.00, that would already be 6.3 million toward the goal. Not everyone will give, of course, but many would give more than that. If they gave 50.00 each it would be 12.6 million.
    Or if you apply the 20/80 rule, 20% of the 315,000 is 63,000 donors who would be most likely to give. If each of them gave 190.00, that would bring in 11,970,000–almost 12 million from the ordinary Catholics who fill the pews. Hypothetically speaking, of course.

  6. Former Employee says:

    As a point of information, it is not uncommon to hold back one or two heavy hitters until the very end so that you can solicit them for the amount necessary to put a Campaign over goal.

    I don’t know if this is the case in this situation, but I would not be suprised at this point to see the Catholic Appeal exceed $14MM

    I would even think 14.5 MM or 15 MM could potentially not be out of reach (it would be extremely tough though).

    Especially since year end (December) giving is always very high among heavy hitter.

    While the cost per dollar raised is still excessive, I guess congrats will be in order for Ms. Driscoll should I be correct.

    To keep fundraising flat or minimize shrinkage in this economy is quite an accomplishment.

    • A priest says:

      Your argument makes no sense. They tap heavy hitters every year in the end to try and hit or exceed the goal. They did it last year and barely hit $13M, and they’ll do it again this year. You state nothing other than the obvious which they’ve always done. BCI observed that they’re running about even with this time last year (they’re perhaps slightly ahead, but as a %, it’s a minimal difference). If the same heavy hitters are hit in the end this year as last year, they’ll probably hit $13M again. I think you give Ms. Driscoll inordinately too much credit in advance. After all, how did her and Jack Connors’ Campaign for Catholic Schools do? Now, if the new Appeal Manager and VP of Develompent over the appeal help them to shake-down even more heavy hitters, that could make a difference, but you didn’t say that.

      • Former Employee says:

        It’s not an arguement, it’s a fact of fundraising.

        It is a common practice to “tap” some large funders at the end by saying something like “we need $xx,xxx to bring us over goal”

        You’re correct in that they may have already tapped their heavy hitters, it’s not information I am privy to.

        I don’t know when they “tap” their heavy hitters (if you refer to paragraph two above).

        I am making my assumptions based on many years of experience, which includes having been there. I will however admit that they certainly didn’t and still don’t run like a typical organization.

        I have no love for that place, but my comment was entirely objective based on experience with a number of well run organization.

  7. Lazarus'Table says:

    Dear BCI and Readership–
    May I call to your attention John Zmirak’s book, “The Bad Catholic’s Guide to the Seven Deadly Sins.” (Don’t let the title throw you off– the book is a gem.) In his chapter on the sin of Vainglory, Zmirak calls to mind Philip Lawler’s book, “The Faithful Departed: The Collapse of Boston’s Catholic Culture” to remind us of some of the “why’s” of what we’re experiencing today, and why BCI’s work is important; almost as important as our own responses to the situation.
    Please permit a quote from Zmirak’s book: “…Lawler gives a capsule history of the rise of Catholic Boston– a town where Puritans once outlawed the Mass. When masses of Irish immigrants arrived half-starving, they appeared to native Brahmins at best half-human. When ‘the world’ was spurning us, when American Catholics were viewed with suspicion or dwelt in ethnic ghettos, we pushed back energetically. Our sins rarely entailed compromise. It’s hard to sell out when nobody’s buying.
    “The Church in Boston –in America– was finally corrupted by success. We recapitulated in less than one hundred years a process that elsewhere took centuries, skipping straight from the catacombs to the corruption of the Renaissance without all the nifty art.. Having built a vast infrastructure of wealth and power through the desperate sacrifices of hard-working immigrants, the Church began to attract as leaders men who treasured such things– powerbrokers, managers, and statesmen– but very few saints.”
    Zmirak reminds us that our current crisis began way before sex abuse scandal, but the sex abuse scandal brought to light the nature of why we are where we are. Zmirak writes that today’s leaders are “…wealthy, powerful and evidently worldy men who fill the thrones –but not the shoes– of the apostles… We read of their soulless, beaureaucratic responses to victims of sexual betrayal; these bishops’ prime concern was to save the infrastructure, the bricks and mortar and mortages. Ironically, their lack of a supernatural concern for souls is precisely what cost them so much money in the end. Vainglory doesn’t pay.”
    “The illness that has infected them [the bishops] that might infect you and me– amounts to what Jacques Maritain called “kneeling before the world.” In return, we hope the world will kneel before us,” Zmirak writes.
    The world ain’t kneeling before us….

  8. Fr. Bill says:

    Bravo Lazarus Table !
    As always, well spoken …

    The corruption has a deep and long history + will not disappear or lessen until we have genuine spritual renewal both within + outside the Sanctuary …

  9. Gabriel Austin says:

    The proverb has it that a fish begins to rot at the head.

    From a distance it apparent that the archbishop has no interest in correcting the situation; nor even in addressing complaints from the sheep.

  10. Fr. Bill says:

    DAYS OF PRAYER + FASTING … seems to be rquired ????

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