By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer
As the 2017 calendar year drew to a close, staff of the Archdiocese of Louisville’s Office of Advancement celebrated more than the start of a new year. Gifts and pledges to the 2018 Catholic Services Appeal — the archdiocese’s largest free-will
offering — topped the $3,750,000 goal.
This is the third consecutive year the CSA has hit its target before year’s end. As of Jan. 9, parishioners pledged $3,954,346, which represents 105 percent of this year’s goal. The appeal began Oct. 1, 2017. This is the largest amount ever to be pledged to the CSA.
“Our totals show that the ministries and services supported by the CSA really spoke to people across the archdiocese. The impact of their gifts will be felt throughout the archdiocese,” said Sarah Wunderlin, director of annual giving.
Wunderlin also credited the successful campaign in large part to pastors and parish administrators who, she said, “are on the frontlines encouraging parishioners to participate.”
The CSA provides funding to more than 110 ministries and services throughout the archdiocese, which is comprised of 110 parishes in 24 counties.
“The purpose of the CSA is to bring Christ to others through the support of the ministries. With the successful appeal, we are able to provide that support to the entire community through the work of Catholic Charities and their outreach ministries,” she said.
Among other services and ministries supported by the CSA are the Family Ministries Office, Office for Youth and Young Adults and the Office of Faith Formation.
So far, about 13,900 donors have contributed to the total, which is a few hundred short of last year’s totals around this same time. Advancement staff said four disaster collections this summer and fall — which totaled nearly $400,000 from 3,000 donors — may have contributed to the slower pace of donor numbers. The four collections benefited victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria as well as those affected by earthquakes in Mexico.
Important to this year’s success, Wunderlin said, was an added momentum from young donors. A new matching gift program offered to match dollar-for-dollar gifts made by individuals under 40 years of age up to $50,000.
“The matching gift program was able to engage young donors. To know that your gift was doubled was very appealing, especially to new donors,” she said.
In addition, matching gifts were made to any new members of the Salt & Light Society, a giving society that recognizes members who give at least $500 to the appeal. Matching gifts were equal to the difference of the donor’s gift last year and the gift that qualified them for the Salt & Light Society this year.
The CSA mailing also included separate pledge cards to benefit the Seminarian Education Fund. The average cost to educate one seminarian per year is $45,000. Parishioners were able to elect to donate specifically to this fund. To date, pledges to that fund total $228,773.
“This is a great indication that shows parishioners support our future priests. It’s really telling that donors made the choice to add an additional gift to men in formation to become priests,” Wunderlin said.
The 2018 campaign officially concludes at the end of June and advancement staff said it’s not too late to participate.
“Participation is a big part of this. It’s not too late to have an impact. Every gift is important. Every gift makes an impact to the ministries and services supported by the appeal,” Wunderlin added.