Local Ministries

Catholic giving made easy: Support your favorites Nov. 29 

Mark Brown, maintenance and facilities manager at Immaculate Conception-St. Joseph Parish in Leavenworth, stands by the truck with a snowplow that was purchased with Giving Tuesday donations last year. The truck, snowplow and a salt spreader help to keep the parish up and running even in bad weather. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

by Dean Backes

LAWRENCE — After opening its doors to thousands of Masses, baptisms, first Communions and parish get-togethers for the better part of a century, St. John the Evangelist Church here was in need of serious repair.

So, pastor Father John Cousins, OFM Cap., rallied the troops.

As last year’s GivingTuesday campaign inched closer, Father John called on the parish’s director of communications Jacinta Hoyt to assist him. 

“I came up with the idea that we were going to use social media, the church bulletin and an email blast as a way to promote the fundraiser and to encourage people to donate,” Hoyt said. “We looked through different parish directories and encouraged parishioners to submit photos of baptisms or first Communions — different ways in which the church was showing how it was their home, how they had been involved in the church and how the church had been involved in their lives.”

Hoyt took the photos she gathered, some dating back to the 1950s, and posted them on Facebook. Parishioners and family, friends and relatives, linked to the photos, then tagged each other and began commenting on the photos, setting the marketing plan in motion.

A generous donor offered to match the goal of $50,000 and St. John the Evangelist wound up taking in $90,000 in donations for a total of $140,000 after the match.

“We’d just like to give a big thank you to anyone that donated to help us sustain the church,” Hoyt said of last year’s successful campaign.

That success has left organizers eager for this year’s GivingTuesday campaign, when St. John the Evangelist is looking  to raise money for additional upgrades, like $6,000 to make improvements and repairs to the church’s elevator.

Father Glenn Snow, O.Carm., pastor of Immaculate Conception-St. Joseph Parish in Leavenworth, shows off the camera and tripod in the choir loft of St. Joseph that is used to livestream Masses. The equipment was purchased with funds raised by last year’s GivingTuesday. This year, the parish hopes to raise enough to buy similar equipment for Immaculate Conception. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

While donors are allowed to begin donating to their favorite school, parish or ministry ahead of time, GivingTuesday officially launches Nov. 29. The online leaderboard at the Catholic Foundation of Northeast Kansas (CFNEK) website — cfnek.org — will be accessible from Nov. 23 through Dec. 5.

Established for the purpose of encouraging online giving for good causes the Tuesday after Thanksgiving,  the idea of GivingTuesday was introduced in 2012 and eventually became a global movement. CFNEK has been participating in the fundraising blitz for several years, making it easy for archdiocesan entities to call attention to their needs.

According to Marie Baranko, the director of communications for Christ’s Peace House of Prayer in Easton, the ministry began taking advantage of the online donating platform in 2019 when it raised funds to paint some of its cabins. Then in 2020, like plenty of other organizations, Baranko’s ministry was forced to focus on bringing in enough money to stay afloat due to COVID-19.

Christ’s Peace began combining GivingTuesday with its fall fundraiser two years ago. Last fall, Baranko said $10,000 was raised through the GivingTuesday campaign — and $15,000 altogether — to renovate the facility’s conference room. Extra funds received allowed the ministry to add an extra counter in the back of the room.

Baranko hopes to raise $12,000 this fall to repair and paint the siding on the House of Prayer’s main building.

“It’s out there,” Baranko said of the growing awareness of the GivingTuesday opportunity. “People look for it. I think we get a different demographic of people to donate than what we’d normally get.”

Marie Baranko cleans dishes inside the kitchen at Christ’s Peace House of Prayer. The retreat house hopes to raise money for repairs this GivingTuesday. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

After raising the funds to make the church site at St. Joseph Parish in Leavenworth internet-accessible and to purchase the video equipment needed to stream Mass two years ago, Immaculate Conception-St. Joseph Parish in Leavenworth went a different route last fall.

Their former groundskeeper, who now works at the Carmelite House in Washington, D.C., did it all — snow removal, mowing, religious education, contracting, housework and more. So, when he left, the community was forced to raise the $18,000 needed to purchase a truck with a snowplow, a salt spreader and a good mower to go along with the help needed to keep the parishes up and running.

This year, GivingTuesday coordinator Susan Harrington said her twin parishes are looking to raise another $6,000 to begin making Immaculate Conception Church internet-accessible and to purchase the equipment necessary to livestream Mass and some of the other events that take place on church grounds.

“If you have a project that they like — that they support — they donate,” Harrington said of her fellow parishioners. “That’s what makes for the success of [GivingTuesday].”

Father Glenn Snow, O.Carm., checks the church livestream footage on his laptop. Livestreaming equipment was purchased for St. Joseph Church with funds raised by last year’s GivingTuesday. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

Faith-based nonprofits now receive the largest percentage of GivingTuesday online donations, with the average gift amount exceeding $204, up from $134 a year ago. Overall, online giving rose 21% with 17% of online donations coming from people donating from their mobile devices. Last fall, $2.7 billion was generated for nonprofits on GivingTuesday.

Jane Schmitt, the marketing coordinator of CFNEK, urged parishioners of the archdiocese to get out and donate.

“First, we have Thanksgiving and Black Friday,” Schmitt said. “Then,  Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. All of those days are just leading us to the biggest event of all — GivingTuesday. It’s become a nationwide day of giving and is increasing in momentum.

“I think most people give to Giving Tuesday projects because it’s something that’s near and dear to their hearts or it’s very relatable. Or it might be their school or their parish that is participating and they’ll be able to see and reap the benefits and rewards of the gifts that they’re giving on GivingTuesday.”

For donors that frequently buy or give online, giving is easy. They can donate 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 wanting to track the progress of their favorite charity can go online to: cfnek.org to access the 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.

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The Leaven

The Leaven is the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.

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