Record-Setting Renew + Rebuild Campaign Leads to 2020 Cardinal’s Appeal

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Fresh off the record-breaking success of the Renew + Rebuild capital campaign, which finished with $248 million in pledges Nov. 30, Bettina Alonso, the archdiocese’s executive director of development, understands perfectly the accomplishment’s significance.

“It’s been a very rewarding experience,” Ms. Alonso said.

“It was an overarching campaign that touched almost every part of the archdiocese.”

Pausing to review the campaign during an interview with CNY in late January, Ms. Alonso said the pastors of the archdiocese’s parishes deserve the credit “100 percent,” each in their own way.

“It felt like 288 mini-campaigns,” Ms. Alonso said.

The pastors’ work started in the campaign’s “silent” phase, in which a good chunk of the funds were raised before the “public” phase commenced, she said.

Pastors also formed strong volunteer teams to carry out the solicitation of fellow parishioners.

As pledges rolled in, scaffolding went up to begin work repairing the walls, floors, pews of parish churches, replacing or repairing roofs of parish buildings, resurfacing parking lots, installing new boilers and restoring stained glass windows.

The “visual incentive,” as Ms. Alonso termed it, had a direct and positive impact on giving.

So did the fact that the majority of the funds raised (74 percent) remained with the parishes, while 26 percent went toward other archdiocesan priorities such as extraordinary capital projects at needy parishes ($10 million), Catholic high schools ($8 million), restoration of St. Patrick’s Cathedral ($14 million), evangelization and lay leadership formation ($4 million) and Catholic Charities ($4 million).

Ms. Alonso said another part of the fund-raising success was attributable to a new “hybrid” model, which saw her staff gradually take over responsibility for the campaign from the consulting firm that conducted it at the outset.

“They have really stretched themselves,” said Ms. Alonso, who detailed her staff members’ work with multiple parishes, which included regular meetings with volunteers and dinners with pastors.

“The staff was very excited about raising a huge amount of money,” she said.

Renew + Rebuild collected pledges from 45,000 individual donors, well in excess of the expected totals of 35,000 to 38,000, Ms. Alonso said. At this point, about 30 percent of pledges are lapsed, behind or have not started, and the Development Office has four staff members dedicated to pledge redemption.

The goal is for redeemed pledges to reach the $200 million mark. Not surprisingly, pledge payment is also a key for parish projects coming to fruition.

Relationships forged between pastors and the members of the development staff who managed Renew + Rebuild parish campaigns should continue to pay dividends during the 2020 Cardinal’s Annual Stewardship Appeal campaign, which is now under way.

The 2019 CASA recently topped its $20 million goal, thanks to a $35,000 gift from one of the members of its 15-person Leadership Committee, Ms. Alonso said. The final pledge total is $20,017,809.

Members of the volunteer committee, who serve three-year terms, meet quarterly to discuss best practices and feedback from parishes.

Receiving a $1 million gift also “made the difference” in reaching the goal, Ms. Alonso explained.

This year’s CASA campaign again has a goal of $20 million. The theme is “Teach, Serve, Sanctify.”

The words are also a perfect distillation of CASA “in a way that reflects the mission of the Church, and is easy to digest and remember,” said Juliette Picciano, who took over as director of the Cardinal’s Annual Stewardship Appeal in June. She previously served for four years as chief of staff to Ms. Alonso.

Illustrating “Teach” in the Appeal’s case statement are $2 million to be raised for Catholic schools and $1 million for the formation of new priests and deacons.

The “Share” component will reserve gifts of $6 million for pastoral, charitable and administrative support, and $1 million for the St. John Vianney Center for retired priests in Riverdale.

The “Sanctify” area is exemplified by $10 million to be collected to provide assistance to needy parishes, a figure that matches last year’s campaign.

The support for needy parishes struck a chord with many pastors, who stressed to their parishioners that they remain open, at least in part, because “the Appeal is helping us with money,” Ms. Alonso said.

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