Parishioners from Orillia, Ont.’s Guardian Angels parish attend a fundraising meeting on March 4. Photo courtesy of the Family of Faith campaign.

Family of Faith passes halfway point of total goal

By 
  • January 6, 2015

At $55.8 million, Toronto Catholics are closing out 2014 having raised more than half the $105-million goal Cardinal Thomas Collins set for them in May.

With approximately 8,000 individual donors having committed through a pilot project and two waves of parish campaigns, the Family of Faith campaign has reached 53 per cent of its goal.

“It’s naturally a good feeling to be halfway there,” said Family of Faith spokesperson John Ecker.

Fundraising among large donors, Collins has so far raised $18 million, 72 per cent of his goal of $25 million. Beyond that $25 million, the rest falls to parishes, said Ecker.
“This is very much about parishioners supporting parish life,” he said. “So much of what is in the Family of Faith plan is tied directly to parish life.”

Twenty-eight of the 30 parish campaigns so far have exceeded their goal. Parishes that raise more than their assigned goal benefit by retaining more of the money they raise.

Up to the goal, the parish keeps 25 per cent of the money and passes the remaining three quarters on to the archdiocese to support projects from renovating St. Michael’s Cathedral to developing programs to support the New Evangelization.

Once a parish reaches its goal, it retains 75 per cent of funds raised for parish priorities.

The first 10 parishes that took on a Family of Faith campaign averaged 160 per cent of their goal. The second group of 20 parishes averaged 150 per cent.

“These pastors are doing a heck of a job,” Ecker said.

At Guardian Angels parish in Orillia, pastor Fr. Andrew Cyruk went into the pilot project with a healthy dose of skepticism.

“I had never had an experience on this scale of doing this kind of a campaign,” Cyruk told The Catholic Register. “It really sounded like a huge project, which it was.”
Cyruk was surprised by how quickly the parish met its goal, and pleased by how having a goal brought the parish together. He describes the wealth of his small town parish in terms that go beyond money.

“It’s rich in its people and its history,” he said. “That’s what made it successful. It’s the volunteers and the parishioners who were truly great givers and supporters of the local parish.”
Having run a very successful campaign for his main parish, Cyruk is now in the midst of campaigns for Guardian Angels’ two satellite parishes. St. Francis of Assisi in Washago has so far raised 127 per cent of its $50,000 goal and St. Columbkille’s in Uptergrove has raised 143 per cent of its $85,000 goal.

Family of Faith parish goals are set at 130 per cent of the annual offertory collections in the parish.

“People will respond to a good plan, which is what the pastoral plan of the cardinal is all about. Everything in the plan is very appealing,” said Cyruk.

The amounts reported are money pledged, not money received. In most cases, donors pledge to give a fixed monthly amount over five years — most often by credit card or pre-authorized withdrawals from a bank account. The campaign expects about a 10-per-cent gap between pledges and the amount eventually collected, attributable to people moving out of the archdiocese, changing circumstances and death.

In all the parish campaigns donors are asked to make sure the amount they are pledging is both realistic for them personally and that it doesn’t take away from their regular giving to the weekly offertory, ShareLife and the Shepherd’s Trust — a sacrificial gift.

The parish campaigns begin with a personal approach to the parish’s most generous donors. Those people both make initial gifts to get the campaign rolling and form a leadership team that appeals to fellow parishioners. A letter eventually goes out from the pastor to all the regular donors in the parish, followed by a second letter to those registered parishioners who have not been regular contributors to the offertory or who avoid the envelopes and only give cash. During a final commitment weekend, cards are handed out at all the Masses where people are invited to pledge if they haven’t already.

“A lot of people will say, ‘We can’t possibly get there because we’re a poor parish.’ Or, ‘We can’t possibly get there because although we are a so-called rich parish, we’ve just had a campaign not too long ago,’ ” said Ecker.

So far the lowest rate of return in a parish was 90 per cent of its goal. The highest was 209 per cent.

“It just proves how rich and diverse we are as parish families right across the archdiocese. We all have opportunities and challenges,” Ecker said.

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