by Dean Backes
Special to The Leaven
LEAWOOD — Always looking out for others, Father Simon Peter of St. Athanasius Church in Mawuuki, Uganda, may soon be receiving a little help from some friends.
The longtime, long-distance friend of St. Michael the Archangel pastor Father Brian Schieber visits his seminary ally in Leawood for about a month every summer, helping out around the parish.
“He offers Mass. He will give talks. He pretty much does anything that an American priest does,” said St. Michael the Archangel Parish administrator Rob Lisch. “He’ll go into hospitals and anoint the sick. He offers baptism. He helps out with just about anything that a priest would encounter if they were a priest in residence.”
Father Simon Peter has been making his annual summer journey for some years now and has gotten to know many St. Michael parishioners. It should come as no surprise, then, that the parish is looking forward to raising money for St. Athanasius Parish in late November when GivingTuesday kicks off its 2021 campaign.
While donors can throw money at their favorite school, parish or ministry ahead of time, GivingTuesday lands on Nov. 30 this year. The online leaderboard at the Catholic Foundation of Northeast Kansas website — cfnek.org — will track gifts from Nov. 21 through Dec. 5 this year.
Created in 2012, GivingTuesday was established for the purpose of encouraging online giving for good causes. Today, it’s become a global movement. For a number of years now, the Catholic Foundation of Northeast Kansas (CFNEK) has participated in the day, making it easy for archdiocesan entities to highlight their needs.
St. Michael Parish, for example, hopes to raise $25,000 in its GivingTuesday campaign to build a drainage system for Father Simon Peter’s church.
St. John the Evangelist Church in Lawrence already kicked off its GivingTuesday campaign on Nov. 1. It is asking for $50,000 to repair a leaky roof, which has led to a falling ceiling in its choir loft, and water seeping into the basement.
If the parish reaches its goal, a generous donor will match the $50,000 with an equal amount.
Gratia Plena House of Discernment for Women, meanwhile, is working toward a goal of adding a eucharistic adoration chapel inside the house of discernment. Funds raised from the event will go toward the construction, furnishing and ongoing expenses of the chapel.
Faith-based nonprofits now receive the largest percentage of GivingTuesday online donations, with the online average gift amount exceeding $134. Overall, online giving rose 21% in 2020 with 17% of online donations coming from those donating from mobile devices. Last year, a total of $2.47 billion was generated for nonprofits on GivingTuesday.
Jane Schmitt, the marketing coordinator of CFNEK, said that the spirit of GivingTuesday fits neatly with the CFNEK mission to “collaborate with parishes and institutions to develop additional resources and support.”
“Our goal,” Schmitt said, “is to provide our clients with an intuitive and easy-to-use online donation platform that serves to increase nonprofit financial health and sustainability.”
For donors that are tech savvy, giving is easy. They can give online with a credit card by texting the organization’s text-to-give phone number and keyword, or by scanning a QR code that takes the donor directly to an organization’s crowdfunding page.
If they are in possession of a public giving page direct URL, donors can go that route, or they can walk into a participating school, parish or ministry with a check or cash.
Donors hoping to track the progress of their favorite charity can go online to: cfnek.org to access the Joy of Giving leaderboard. Once there, donors can find their favorite charities by scrolling down and clicking on the drop-down menu. Donors will then be able to see where their money is going by accessing the participating organization’s crowdfunding page.