The first matching gift challenge in the 39-year-history of the Cardinal’s Annual Stewardship Appeal—now more than halfway to its $1 million goal—has been extended to year’s end.
The challenge gift, made by an anonymous donor in the summer, was rolled out in the fall with the hope that parishes who had fallen short of reaching their Appeal goal this year might still be able to go over the top.
“I’m hopeful we will meet the $1 million,” said Bettina Alonso, the executive director of development for the archdiocese.
A total of $517,140 had been raised in the matching gifts challenge as of Nov. 13.
The matching gift means that if $600,000 or $700,000 is contributed, then the donor matches that amount, up to the $1 million total, Ms. Alonso said. If the full $1 million is raised, then the total benefit to the Appeal campaign would be $2 million.
The new funds will be added to the 2018 campaign totals, which will help some parishes that had only been able to reach 70 or 80 percent of their Appeal goal, Ms. Alonso said. With so many parishes involved in the active phase of the archdiocese’s Renew + Rebuild capital campaign this year, Appeal participation was affected because a significant overlap exists in the donor bases for the Cardinal’s Appeal and Renew + Rebuild, she said.
The matching gift challenge has given pastors another opportunity to speak about the Appeal, and “all the good work it’s doing,” Ms. Alonso said. Examples of good works to be assisted if the entire $2 million gift is fulfilled are assistance to financially struggling parishes; funding for Catholic schools so more students can benefit; training and education for New York’s seminarians; support for retired priests now living at St. John Vianney Center in the Bronx; and boosting religious education and youth ministry offerings across the archdiocese.
Pastors have spoken about the matching gift at an announcement weekend that included bulletin inserts. A series of weekly emails to donors in the Appeal database also helped.
“We’re finding new donors, thanks to this, which is a nice byproduct,” Ms. Alonso said.
She said she was “very positively surprised” when the donor announced his matching gift. One reason was that matching gifts are usually made for naming opportunities or for specific projects, Ms. Alonso said. The donor, who was described as a longtime Cardinal’s Annual Stewardship Appeal supporter, understood the annual campaign was struggling a bit this year and wanted “to do something big,” she said.
A more recent initiative, which came about after the donor asked if there was anything else that would be helpful, was a “sustainer” concept, in which Appeal donors will be encouraged to make online gifts, similar to a membership, on an ongoing basis, Ms. Alonso said.