Fall forums help parishes fund their mission

BRAINTREE -- In the upcoming weeks the Catholic Foundation of the Archdiocese of Boston is offering three seminars that are designed to help parishes manage financial concerns.

The topics of the seminars, called the Fall Fundraising Forums, are: Increasing parish offertory; Gift and legacy planning; and Parish capital campaigns.

Pastors, parochial vicars, seminarians, business managers, parish council members, stewardship committee members and anyone else interested in increasing support for the Church’s mission should attend.

In addition, for the first time, the Parish Stewardship Symposium, which focuses on helping parishes develop practices that encourage parishioners to share their time, talent, and treasure in ways that build participation and involvement in parish life, will now be part of the Fall Fundraising Forums.

Scot Landy, Secretary for Institutional Advancement of the Archdiocese of Boston, said that these seminaries are part of the Catholic Foundation’s commitment to provide pastors, business managers, and parishes with tools, techniques, expertise and advice to allow them to advance their missions and encourage parishioners to receive God’s blessings and return them in charity.

“It’s no secret that parishes face many challenges: uncertain economic times; rising costs for both long-term maintenance and short-term expenses, like heating oil; an increasingly diverse charitable marketplace competing for a single pool of available donations; and in many places, a shrinking and aging population whose own expenses are rising as well,” Landry said.

“Yet it’s not a given that all parishes in similar circumstances must struggle equally, if they apply some proven best practices to educate and inform their parishioners,” he added.

The first seminar, held Sept. 18, will bring leading fundraising consultants together with parish representatives to discuss the methods by which parishes can increase the weekly offertory by educating and inspiring parishioners, Landry said.

At the Parish Stewardship Symposium, which takes place Oct. 4, Bishop John P. Boles, an auxiliary bishop of Boston, and other speakers will share their insights into the spiritual, sacramental and biblical basis for stewardship and will address the call to lay Catholics to receive, cherish and return their blessings with increase to God. All parishioners and clergy are invited to the symposium.

On Oct. 23, at the Gift and legacy planning seminar, the foundation will unveil a new approach and a new Parish Manual for Planned Giving, a turnkey method for parishes to inform and motivate parishioners to create estate plans that include their parish as a beneficiary. The new manual includes the tools a parish will need to broach the topic in a distinctly Catholic manner.

At the Parish capital campaign seminar, held Nov. 13, the foundation will present a comprehensive new process to assist parishes in evaluating and developing plans for parish capital fundraising campaigns. This forum will discuss how to choose a fundraising consultant, how to conduct a feasibility study, and what services the various offices of the central archdiocesan administration can provide to parishes conducting a campaign.

The foundation began this work in September 2007 with the inauguration of the Fall Fundraising Forums. Based on feedback from pastors, the initial three topics in 2007 were electronic offertory, planned giving and annual reporting.

All of the forums will be held at the new Archdiocesan Pastoral Center in Braintree. For more details or to register, visit www.BostonCatholicAppeal.org/FallForums or call Anna at 617-779-3704.