Diocesan appeal pledges pass half-way point
By Kevin Kelly
Catholic Key Associate Editor
KANSAS CITY - One month into the 1998-99 campaign, the "Together We Can" Diocesan stewardship appeal is more than halfway toward its $2 million goal.
The $1,123,787 pledged so far represents a slight jump over the amount pledged at the same time last year, said Diocesan Stewardship and Development Director Tom Severino. But with only 11 percent of registered Catholic households in the Diocese contributing so far, he said that number could soar.
"The average gift is up, but the participation is lower than last year," Severino said. "If participation increases, we will make our goal this year."
If "Together We Can" reaches its goal this year, it will mark the first time in Diocesan history that an annual Diocesan-wide stewardship campaign has reached $2 million, Severino said. All the money, he said, will be applied to the $2.3 million in charitable and justice activities that the Diocese funds annually for children, the elderly and the poor.
Overall, 5,829 registered households out of 52,056 in the Diocese have pledged an average of $193 so far, according to the Development and Stewardship Office data.
One community, St. Aloysius Mission in Maysville, has already reached its pledge goal. Another nine communities are near or above 80 percent of their goals. They are St. Matthew Apostle in Kansas City, St Munchin in Cameron, St. Mary in Carrollton, Mary Immaculate in Gallatin, St.
Joseph the Worker in Independence, Immaculate Conception in Lexington, St. George in Odessa, St. Bridget in Rich Hill, and Holy Trinity in Urich.
Severino said that when a parish exceeds its campaign goal, which is set according to performance in past Diocesan appeals, it receives back 50 percent of the funds collected over the goal.
Severino said that the overall participation level has dropped somewhat this year because the campaign delayed sending out a second mailing of pledge cards until the initial pledge cards were received and processed.
"Last year, we sent the second pledge card in October," he said. "This year, we waited until after Thanksgiving because we didn't want to send a second card to families who had already given."
That second pledge card, sent only to households who have yet to respond to the appeal, will be mailed in early December.
"The second pledge card will challenge people in the spirit of Thanksgiving and holiday giving to reach out to children and the poor in the Diocese," Severino said.
He said that in late January, a "phone-a-thon" will be conducted to contact each family that had not responded by then to provide one more opportunity to participate.
The data from the first month of the campaign, which opened Nov. 1, show that early participation has varied widely from parish to parish. Some 30 parishes and missions among the 99 in the Diocese have reported early participation levels lower than 10 percent of all registered households.
Yet several parishes have already approached the overall 27 percent participation rate of last year's campaign, led once again by St. Aloysius in Maysville with 30 percent early participation, Severino said.
Among another dozen communities with a 20 percent or better participation rate already are St.
Francis Xavier in Kansas City, St. Thomas More in Kansas City, Cathedral in St. Joseph, St.
Mary in Carrollton, St. Columba in Conception Junction, Immaculate Conception in Lexington, Immaculate Conception in Montrose, St. Catherine in Osceola, St. Ann in Plattsburg, St. Bridget in Rich Hill, St. Rose of Lima in Savannah, St. Cyril in Sugar Creek, and Holy Trinity in Urich.
Severino said that participation in "Together We Can" tends to be higher in parishes that have a year-round program stressing stewardship through a variety of ways.
"We have seen parishes organizing to promote and foster stewardship throughout the whole year, not just for this campaign," Severino said. "Where there is an atmosphere of stewardship, where folks are contributing to the hospitality and involvement of the parish, this campaign and other efforts to share our gifts increase."