As I speak to fellow Catholics in my new role as chair of the Advisory Board of the Catholic Foundation of Rhode Island, many have expressed confusion about the distinctions between the yearly Catholic Charity Appeal, the recent Grateful for God’s Providence capital campaign and the Catholic Foundation. In a nutshell, here is the difference.
The Catholic Charity Appeal is conducted annually to support ongoing costs for Catholic ministries around the state. These donations are used to cover today’s operational expenses for these vital Catholic ministries.
The recent Grateful for God’s Providence capital campaign raised over $50 million that will be invested in endowment funds to ensure the long-term viability of ministries in these general areas of need — the education of seminarians, support for retired priests, tuition assistance for Catholic schools, support for Catholic charities and social ministry, as well as one-time funding for the preservation of the cathedral. In addition, 40% of all funds collected up to the parish goal were returned to the parishes for their own needs. Examples of how parishes used those proceeds include expanding or renovating church facilities, creating new parish ministries or establishing a rainy day fund. Diocesan capital campaigns of this sort happen rarely, perhaps every 20 years or so.
But what if you want to ensure that a very particular charitable ministry — of your choice — is appropriately funded far into the future? This is the role of the Catholic Foundation of Rhode Island.
One of the key benefits of using the Catholic Foundation to assist you in meeting your philanthropic goals is that those who endow a fund have the flexibility to direct their gift to the specific ministry they wish to support. And because the funds are endowed, the gift remains untouched while the designated ministry receives the investment return. Thus, the donor’s intent will be supported in perpetuity.
Currently, the Foundation has over $130 million under management, making it one of the 15 largest Catholic foundations in the country. Funds are professionally managed, with investment returns outpacing many other foundations in our peer category. All of this while employing an investment strategy congruent with the teachings of the Catholic faith.
The investment return generated by the Catholic Foundation currently supports over 160 specific ministries throughout the state, including food pantries, soup kitchens, Catholic elementary and high schools, homeless shelters, as well as individual churches whose parishioners and pastors have created endowed funds to ensure the future viability of their parishes. Each one of those ministries was chosen by the donor or a group of donors. For example, my parish, St. John Vianney in Cumberland, raised funds on its 50th anniversary in 2002 to create an endowment to celebrate that milestone and to provide for the parish for generations to come.
However, in spite of the broad range of charitable work supported through funds managed by the Foundation, many Catholics are unaware of its existence. Yet it is the single most reliable way to ensure that a particular ministry important to you remains active and vibrant.
For information on establishing an endowment with the Catholic Foundation, or becoming a donor to an existing one, please email Rich Popovic, the executive director of the Foundation, at email@example.com, or call him at 401-277-2115.
Michael M. Woody is the current chair of the Catholic Foundation of Rhode Island Advisory Board, former diocesan co-chair of the Catholic Charity Fund Appeal, and co-chair of his parish’s recent Grateful for God’s Providence capital campaign.
To learn more about the Catholic Foundation of Rhode Island, please visit dioceseofprovidence.org/
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