Hundreds ‘give Catholic’ on Giving Tuesday

Emily Booker News, Stewardship

Hundreds of people “gave Catholic” on Giving Tuesday as 22 parishes, schools, and ministries in the Diocese of Knoxville received $62,871 through the online #iGiveCatholic campaign.

As part of Giving Tuesday, which was Dec. 3, the #iGiveCatholic campaign was started in the Archdiocese of New Orleans to promote giving to Catholic parishes, schools, and ministries. This is the Diocese of Knoxville’s third year participating.

While the majority of #iGiveCatholic gifts came from across East Tennessee, gifts also came from as far as New York, Pennsylvania, California, Arizona, Las Vegas, and New Orleans.

St. Joseph School in Knoxville produced the most unique donors during the advanced giving days and more unique donors on Giving Tuesday, winning $1,000 in prize money through the support of Catholic Extension.

The school raised almost $24,000 for its two projects: its chapel and playground renovations.

“We kind of had that slogan: we pray hard and we play hard,” said principal Andy Zengel. “We started earlier this summer doing some renovations to our chapel. Part of that project was completed in the summer. … The next phase of that is to put in seven stained glass windows that will have the seven sacraments.”

“The sacraments are a way of life, so we want to make sure the kids see the sacramental theme of the path to holiness,” he added. “The other project we’ve been working on is bringing the playgrounds into the center courtyard of our school.” This makes the playground more secure and also serves as an opportunity to update fencing and surfaces.

Howie Sompayrac, the development director at St. Joseph School, communicated the project goals to the school community in the weeks leading up to Dec. 3, including images of the stained glass window designs and thank-you notes to last year’s donors, encouraging them to participate again this year.

“We got a lot of buzz going for those two projects leading up to the day,” said Mr. Zengel, who cited a community of families and alumni committed to the school for the success of the campaign.

St. Thérèse of Lisieux Parish in Cleveland raised almost $11,000 for a much-needed renovation of its parish office, doubling their success from last year.

Father Mike Nolan, pastor of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, explained that the funds will improve the working environment for the staff, improve office security, and enhance pastoral privacy. He attributes the success of this year’s campaign to parishioners committed to improving their parish.

Kathy Martin, director of advancement and alumni at Notre Dame High School in Chattanooga, said the school increased its #iGiveCatholic goal this year because of the success of last year.

The school raised $6,542, which will be used for technological upgrades.

Ms. Martin shared updates throughout the day, encouraging people to join in and give. She used pictures of students, creating that personal connection for donors.

“Parents like to see their kids. Grandparents like to see their kids,” she said.

Notre Dame had extra help from a generous matching donor.

“We had a donor matching every donation this year,” Ms. Martin said. “So I used that as a plug. Every dollar will be matched.”

The match applies to all donations to Notre Dame High School up to $500,000.

For St. Jude School in Chattanooga, reaching out to parents and grandparents was a big component in its success this year, raising more than $5,700, which is almost a 40 percent increase from last year.

Kathleen Preston, development director at St. Jude School, acknowledges the “awesome parents, grandparents, and supporters” for participating in this year’s campaign.

“We really tried to do a concerted effort in communicating #iGiveCatholic. We did a little bit of promotion ahead of time as far as sending e-mails and Facebook posts,” she said. “I love #iGiveCatholic. I think the process is very well-established. I like the support materials. I like the support logos. I think that is a huge help to any ministry that uses the campaign.”

Over the past three years, participating parishes, schools and Catholic ministries across East Tennessee have collectively raised over $186,000 through #iGiveCatholic, said Allison DiGennaro, the Diocese of Knoxville’s assistant director of stewardship.

“And while the dollar amount is exciting, the real impact can be seen through the work that is made possible by #iGiveCatholic donors. Through their generosity, our Catholic schools have strengthened their annual funds, completed campus security upgrades, offered tuition assistance, and expanded their health and wellness initiatives. Our parishes have been able to provide Bibles to children in faith formation and cover the cost for youth to travel to local retreats and national youth conferences. The shelves of pregnancy help centers have been stocked with needed baby supplies. The St. Mary’s mobile medical clinic has received needed support for their work to provide primary health care to more than 820 patients in six different counties in our diocese, and so much more,” Mrs. DiGennaro said.

“When you make a gift through #iGiveCatholic, you truly help local Catholic ministries and expand the work of the Church in East Tennessee,” she added.

The diocesan Office of Stewardship tallied offline giving that was received in conjunction with the online campaign. Collectively, more than $74,000 was raised throughout the Diocese of Knoxville on Giving Tuesday.

All of the money raised through #iGiveCatholic goes directly to the parishes, schools, and ministries.