#iGiveCatholic philanthropy seed grows across U.S.

By Christine Bordelon

The third annual, community-wide online Catholic giving campaign #iGive Catholic 2017 is scheduled for Nov. 28, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.

This year, parishes, schools, ministries and nonprofits from 17 Catholic dioceses nationwide – from Helena, Montana, to Paterson, New Jersey, to Austin, Texas, and Atlanta, Georgia –  are participating, an increase from six dioceses in 2016, said Josephine Everly, local president of the #iGiveCatholic campaign, established by The Catholic Foundation.

Fever spread

The #iGiveCatholic campaign which The Catholic Foundation started in New Orleans in 2015, is an offshoot of #GivingTuesday – an initiative that began in 2012 using community philanthropy to counteract the consumerism that is promoted on Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

“It’s a day for coming together, giving thanks and giving back,” Everly said. “We felt it was the perfect day to celebrate Catholic philanthropy.”

She said The Catholic Foundation helps organizations connect to their donors to increase generosity and find “new and exciting and fun ways to come together to celebrate our faith, our culture and our heritage.”

The inaugural #iGiveCatholic campaign raised $1.36 million for Catholic-aligned entities in New Orleans.

Last year, after five partner dioceses and archdioceses joined the effort and raised more than $1.8 million for more than 300 ministries, Archbishop Gregory Aymond saw it as an outlet that could be a gift to the Catholic Church in the U.S.

He met with The Catholic Foundation’s executive director Cory Howat to discuss a national scope for #iGive Catholic, and he reached out to bishops in Atlanta, Georgia and Jackson, Mississippi, to lead the effort. A separate 501(c)(3) organization was founded for the national campaign.

“This growth, this vision and excitement started here with you (in the Archdiocese of New Orleans),” Everly told those gathered at the Oct. 26 kickoff. “We have great ideas every day, but it takes people with courage and creativity and faith to make these things real, and you did that. You showed us creative ways we never imagined to celebrate the Catholic giving day.”

Larger goal

This year’s goal is $3.5 million for the 17 partner dioceses nationwide. And, for the first time, a national sponsor has been secured: CAPTRUST Advisors. Through this partnership, The Catholic Foundation has been able to tout its successful #iGiveCatholic fundraising on Giving Tuesday.

Howat calls #iGiveCatholic the “great equalizer,” allowing any size parish or organization to use technology to raise money.

Ascension of Our Lord Parish in LaPlace united as a parish for the 2016 #iGiveCatholic campaign and raised money to build a bathroom at its 22-year-old adoration chapel.

Their campaign creativeness included educating parishioners about #iGiveCatholic by distributing #iGiveCatholic wrist bands, sending out letters to parishioners (that volunteers stuffed), making pulpit announcements and sermons prior to giving day.

“We really pushed advanced online giving and gave out prizes,” said volunteer Susie Lanza who co-chaired #iGiveCatholic at Ascension with church secretary Marna Englert. “When the leaderboard opened the day of the event, we were the leader in number of gifts.”

The parish further encouraged donors to stop by the office throughout the day by serving coffee and donuts, grilling burgers and hot dogs, giving students ice cream after school and serving wine and cheese in the evening. The parish also gave away prizes that included a dinner with Father Walter Austin, pastor, to the largest donor.

“They could see where the money that we raised went,” Lanza said. Surplus money from last year will go to other chapel improvements.

Lanza said this year, the parish adopted an #iGiveCatholic theme – “Walk with Us” – and has decided its parish project will be replacing flooring in the sanctuary, the cry room and the sacristy.

Lanza thanks The Catholic Foundation for giving her parish the tools to get their campaign started but said it’s up to each organization to do the rest.

“It’s an opportunity for a parish to grow in faith together for a common good for the Catholic Church,” she said.

Another parish that met its goal was St. Rita in New Orleans. Father Peter Finney, parish administrator, offered a prayer at the kickoff, and his school cheerleaders enthusiastically encouraged campaign participants.

He mentioned how #iGiveCatholic helps parishes like his who have great ideas and desires but not a big support staff to make them a reality.

Participation in the 2016 campaign allowed the Uptown parish to install a new security system to enhance its mission of being a place of prayer where individuals can stop by “and receive solace and strength during the day.”

#iGiveCatholic gives a voice, leadership and a support to that,” he said.

As door prizes at the kickoff, The Catholic Foundation awarded 6-foot-tall #iGiveCatholic banners to the Hispanic Apostolate, Ascension of Our Lord and St. Michael Special School.

#iGiveCatholic models generosity across the country,” Everly said. “I hope you are as excited as I am. Nov. 28, Giving Tuesday, will be our big day. We look forward to a great giving day.”

If someone is unable to give Nov. 28, donations are taken on advance giving days of Nov. 10-26. For details, email info@iGiveCatholic.org.

For details, visit www.iGiveCatholic.org. Connect with New Orleans organizations on The Catholic Foundation Archdiocese of New Orleans’ Facebook and Twitter (#NOLACatholic) accounts.

Christine Bordelon can be reached at cbordelon@clarionherald.org.

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