By Julie Asher
Catholic News Service
WASHINGTON (CNS) — Thirty-nine U.S. archdioceses and dioceses plan to participate in this year’s #iGiveCatholic online giving day Dec. 3 to raise funds for 3,600 Catholic organizations.
The day is called #GivingTuesday, and #iGiveCatholic officials have seen participation grow each year since the event was created and launched by the Archdiocese of New Orleans in 2015. That year, the archdiocese was the only participant, collecting $1.3 million. Last year, 29 archdioceses and dioceses participated and raised $5.6 million.
“As Catholics, we are taught that we are responsible for all gifts we have been entrusted with, and we are compelled to give back from our gratitude and stewardship of those gifts,” said Cory Howat, president of #iGiveCatholic, who is executive director of the Catholic Community Foundation for the Archdiocese of New Orleans.
“From a personal and ‘cradle Catholic’ perspective, the impact I see this program has on the church, especially in our mission dioceses and most rural parishes and schools, is inspiring,” he added.
Details about the annual event can be found on the website https://www.igivecatholic.org. It includes information about an advanced giving day period that begins Nov. 18. People can connect with #iGiveCatholic on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (@iGiveCatholic), and share posts by using #iGiveCatholic.
The event “kicks off the charitable season and brings the community together to give thanks and give back,” Howat said.
Under the leadership of New Orleans Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond, #iGiveCatholic was first established at answer some needs in the archdiocese alone, Howat told Catholic News Service in an interview by email.
“Some of our Catholic Foundation staff were discerning a few of the challenges we were facing at the then Community Foundation of the Archdiocese of New Orleans in our work with our parishes and schools and ministries such as a lack of trust, brand recognition and awareness, and also no planned giving partnerships,” he explained.
“Those coupled with the lack of fundraising capacity, a resistance to online giving and social media, and the dearth of data within the archdiocese caused us to think outside the box,” he said.
“Some of our ministries were already participating in our local GiveNOLA day, and we felt a great opportunity in connecting giving to a greater spiritual motivation,” Howat said.
The Catholic giving day took off and the next year, in 2016, “a few other dioceses asked to join in our effort and at that point Archbishop Aymond recognized this was something for the church worldwide,” he said.
Howat was asked if he thought this year’s #iGiveCatholic would be impacted at all by a movement in some quarters to urge Catholics around the country to give less to the church because they are unhappy with how some church leaders have addressed the sex abuse crisis.
“We certainly do not see what one would imagine as the traditional impact on giving to #iGiveCatholic related to sex abuse,” he said. “In fact, #iGiveCatholic was born and is thriving right in the middle of it!
“With #iGiveCatholic, donors give to the ministries, parishes, and schools they are most passionate about, and obviously trust,” he continued “#iGiveCatholic connects people wherever they are in the world to the parish where they received the sacraments, the school where they were formed in the faith, a ministry that helped them or a family member in a time of need, and they want to give back.”
Howat said when people “give from hearts filled with gratitude, nothing will interfere with their generosity.”
Another demographic that has shown its generosity are younger people, Howat noted, even at a time when statistics show that young people in bigger numbers that ever are “nones,” or religiously unaffiliated.
“We continue to see more young Catholics not only giving through #iGiveCatholic, but also getting involved in the preparation and promotion of the big day,” Howat said. ” In 2018, 32% of our donors self-identified as being under the age of 49.”
Some of the organizations finding the most success with #iGiveCatholic, he said, “are our college Catholic campus ministry centers and our schools with the youth and young adults active in the effort.”
“We find young donors are especially inclined to give to causes that are close to their heart, and even more so when that particular organization has secured a matching gift,” he said. “For example, if a younger donor plans to contribute $25, they are likely to do so during the time when another donor has agreed to match donations, because they know their gift will be doubled.”
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Follow Asher on Twitter: @jlasher