2018 Catholic Charity Appeal raises $7.3 million in support of diocesan ministries

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PROVIDENCE — The 2018 Catholic Charity Appeal in the Diocese of Providence fell short of meeting its $8 million goal, raising $7,373,736, or 92 percent of the target for the annual campaign which funds ministries that provide charitable services to those in need.

Last year, by comparison, the Appeal took in $7.9 million, meeting 99 percent of its goal.

“Although we fell somewhat short of our CCA goal this year, I am as grateful as ever for the leadership of our pastors and the outstanding generosity of so many of our people,” Bishop Thomas J. Tobin said.

“In the same timeframe that the Charity Appeal was being conducted, we also raised over $14 million in pledges for our Capital Campaign. That’s very encouraging, and we are grateful for that too!”

In addition to the Catholic Charity Appeal this year, the diocese is also conducting “Grateful for God’s Providence,” a two-year capital campaign designed to provide needed assistance to several diocesan programs and for some restorative work on the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul, with a portion of the proceeds also being shared with individual parishes.

Diocesan Stewardship and Development Director Robert J. Corcoran Jr., said the reason the Appeal is as successful as it has been, with topping $7 million itself a significant achievement when compared to campaigns in other dioceses of similar size, is the dedication of donors and the effort expended by pastors in collecting the funds at the parish level.

“We have wonderful assistance with pastors every year,” Corcoran said. “They do a great job with 80 percent of that money coming in through the parish part of our campaign, and about 20 percent through the mail. So the pastors are a huge part of our success. We don’t have a campaign without them.”

According to statistics provided by the Office of Stewardship and Development 73 parishes exceeded their individual goals this year for the Appeal.

Corcoran pointed to the declining number of donors as the main reason for the Appeal’s shortfall.

This year there were 31,538 donors, with an average gift per donor of $233.80.

Over the last 18 years since 1990, when there were about 90,000 annual donors, there has been a decline of about two-thirds in the number of contributors to the Appeal.

When the number of donors drops below 35,000 in any given year, it becomes much harder to meet the $8 million goal due to the corresponding increase in the amount each donor would need to contribute.

“The real problem that we’re all experiencing in Catholic fundraising is the decline in the number of donors,” Corcoran said. “There’s a declining number of donors both in the parishes, and there’s a declining number of donors for diocesan campaigns, and that’s nationwide.”

Funds collected through the Appeal support more than three dozen ministries across the diocese, including its pro-life activities, support for new mothers and their families, elder care, the Emmanuel House homeless shelter and Special Religious Education programming.

CareBreaks, which is funded through a public/private partnership, is one of the diocese’s more recently developed outreach programs.

The program receives support from the Catholic Charity Appeal, with additional assistance provided in the form of grants from the state of Rhode Island, as well as the federal government through its Division of Elderly Affairs. Federal grants require matching funds so the diocesan support makes this program possible.

According to the Office of Community Services and Catholic Charities, as many as 217,000 Rhode Islanders will find themselves serving as caregivers for a family member or friend this year.

Without financial support from the annual Catholic Charity Appeal, the diocese would not be able to operate this program which serves many families throughout Rhode Island, said Kathy McKeon, supervisor of the diocesan Office of Community Services & Catholic Charities.

For the past few years, Lisa Procter has been caring for her beloved husband Douglas, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2014.

“They told me I was basically married to an angel,” she shared, adding that it was remarkable that he was as active as he was given the many challenges Douglas faced. But last April, his symptoms worsened after a fall. That was when doctors discovered a brain tumor.

Lisa reached out to CareBreaks for assistance in caring for Douglas, who required 24-hour care, as he did not sleep for 75 days following surgery on his brain. CareBreaks offers the gift of time. It is a way to provide unpaid caregivers a short term break from the daily responsibility of caring for ailing spouse, a disabled child, adult or elder loved one.

“It’s 100 percent needed,” Procter said of the program. “Around the clock care is expensive. It’s a good program. When Douglas died, he was at home with family and friends.”

Corcoran said that through its outreach to those most in need, the diocese is a good steward of the resources entrusted to it through the Catholic Charity Appeal.

“In general we’re very pleased with the outcome [of this year’s campaign]. We’re always grateful for the generosity of all of the people of Rhode Island,” he said.

Assistant Editor Laura Kilgus reported on CareBreaks for this story.