Giving and parish fund collection? Ideas


#1

I’m putting this in Family Life because it effects family life.

Somehow, I got on a list of families in our school who received what I perceived to be a rather bleating letter regarding stewardship. It also contained a pledge card. I called the parish office to make sure our envelope contributions were being recorded (and they are), so it confuses me as to why Father would send out this blanket letter randomly and rather capriciously, sealed in an envelope so that nobody could see the contents, then passed it out during school hours to the school children through classrooms to take home. To say it rankled me is an understatement.

He started this campaign in October. In November, they passed out pledge cards, which we filled in on the same percentage as last year. We then got the same information in the mail. Now this. Same song, again and again, for three months.

One way I think the parish could save money is to quit sending whining, bleating letters. The cost of all this paper would be a savings in itself! All they do is make people angry, or worse, apathetic.

I would like to be able to offer a few more suggestions to Father than, “Quit insulting the people who do give, and ticking off those who don’t. And while you’re at it, quit bringing up your racecar in the same homily as parish finances.”

I checked out Parish Pay, which seems a good 21st century solution. I also found the Catholic Answers Guide to Family Finances, which makes a lot more sense than the annual semi-seminar on “tithing” which, despite Father’s little lecture, is not a part of canon law and is not really tithing. And if I hear the term “stewardship” one more time, I think I will barf.

Any more ideas that might work in your parish? Praying is good, but is also a given.


#2

one idea would be to talk to the people in your parish who actually run this stewardship campaign and give your input, pretty much a waste of time to complain about it here. Volunteer to join your parish stewardship committee and be part of the planning. Research, as you have already started doing, good programs out there. Speak up when the priest schedules parish meetings on the topic, respond when the stewardship surveys go out during Mass, typically during October, and write your comments.


#3

Move down here…

Come on smile… I know you want to smile…

Seriously I liked Annies suggestions, I was one of the poorest families in our parish if not the poorest for several years. I always felt inadequate when the annual stewardship stuff came out because I literally had 3 kids in Catholic school and not enough money to eat. Thank God for Private School Tuition Assistance!! That was the only way I could let the kids go to the to the school. In fact, the first year I sent the kids, I was only going to send my oldest, but the principal insisted on holding a place for all the kids and told me to go talk to Father about it. I did, and he told me to have faith and put in my aid paperwork. Another mother from the school gave me complete uniforms for dd and others helped me out with my two ds’s uniforms. In less than 2 weeks they sent me a letter telling me that all my kids were covered 100% tuition assistance. I was shocked that they did this for me. I always felt “less” than the other families because I couldn’t pay. Nobody made me feel this way but me. Now that I have been paying full tuition for the past couple of years, still struggling mind you, but it is easier to be very direct about what I can afford. Our DRE and I kinda had it out about fees for confirmation class, and I pretty much told her, sorry, all tapped out after paying tuition for HS, she just kinda looked at me and said OK. It wasn’t even the fee I was objecting to, it was that they wanted to combine the youth group and the confirmation classes just to get more kids in the youth group (the fee was for the youth group not the classes) and dd wasn’t interested in the youth group since she goes to Catholic HS and has plenty of groups there to join. I would just be very direct about what you can afford and stick with it. Here we can work off part of the tuition with volunteer hours, I always maxed out on volunteer hours to save some $$ but it also did some good things like getting the teachers and I working together, which I think helps the kids alot. If you have something like that I would recommend doing as many hours as you can and if your kids are old enough…have them help.


#4

I don’t really have a solution. Just some comments on the subject.

In my diocese all parishes are encouraged to use a common database software program for tracking personal and financial data. This data is used when generating all those letters. Often the letters can be generated by the software program by specifying various flags.

There are several software products that are marketed specifically toward Churches.

The problem is it takes a far amount of analytical skill to say you want to send letters to people who promised to give this amount, are actually giving this amount, which is different from the previous years amount, who are not giving to a seperate financial program.

From personal experience I’ve come to realize that not every parish is using people with the right combination of financial, analytical, and computer skills. Parishes rightly want to limit the number of persons who have access to such sensitve data so they may be reluctant to ask for help. Help from the software company is not always free.

Even if a parish is not using software it is probably simpler to just send letters to everyone. But if sending letters to everyone is angering parishioners it may be that 'simplicity is not cost effective, let alone ‘nice’.

Some where there is probably a happy medium. The question is how much effort should be spent to find it.


#5

Race car? :confused:

Umm, I dont like the sound of this one bit… Call me cynical. Sounds fishy.

Its interesting that he is able to maintain such a costly hobby, that’s all.

I am sure it can be done and I am not implying hes up to no good but, its interesting for sure.

A parish close by hits parishoners up for money in the last paragraph of a letter that detailed that Pastors trip to Austrailia and New Zealand and all the fun places he went to along the way.

Maybe he could have told everyone about his fun times after he got the cash out of them huh?


#6

I have a slightly different take on this subject. Some years back I was on the school board and the school was losing money big time. There was also talk of maybe closing the school. I saw first hand some of the financing of the school and the parish. It is a huge undertaking.

Catholics in general are fairly miserable when it comes to charitable giving. Surveyed about 10 years ago, among all Christian groups, Catholics came in dead last when compared to all other groups as a percent of income. (Mormons came in first at 13%). We come in first in total giving because there are many more of us. And across all groups the higher the income, the lower the percentage of what was given.

Just as in Christ’s parable, the poor give much more (percentage wise) than the rich.

Asking for money is never an easy task. Our pastor makes it a policy of always having the lay folks do this. The clergy only mention it in general. But it is some committee or lay individual who is making the pitch. Our priests make a pittance salary-wise and lately they are required to provide for their own pension.

Unlike the tele-evangelists there are no fancy cars or big expense accounts (at least not in our parish). We provided our pastor with a couple of trips recently, but nothing outrageous. I think our priests work hard and put in fairly long hours. They deserve some time off, and I don’t fault them for taking a vacation now and then. (not sure what the race car is all about… maybe it is just a story and not a real hobby)

We just went through a multi-million $ building campaign and the parish incurred a huge debt. That is a huge burden on the pastor. IF you read “parish priest”, you will get an idea of how taxing a priests’ life can be. Priests do get burned out.

There is a huge stortage of priests, so it’s best to try to kept them healthy and around for as long as you can. Giving them grief over money is a quick way to drive them over the edge.


#7

Check out these earlier threads:

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=119859

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=124812

Does your parish have an Administrative Council or a business manager? I am a member of our parish pastoral council. We help our priests determine the pastoral direction and needs of the parish. The administrative council assists the staff in establishing the budget and setting priorities when cuts and or reallocations become necessary. You certainly learn more about your parish by being an active volunteer and also serving on thses councils.

A $5.00 per hor job with a 5% contribution rate equates to $520.00 per year or $10.00 per week. Our diocese averages only $6.00 per family per week. A wealthy parish [like mine averages $8.00 per family per week.

The first 9 months of this year 25% of families using checks or envelopes gave less than $5.00 per week and 5% of those gave a dollar or less. And we wonder why our priests have to ask for pledges and send reminders?

Most parishes send requests, pledge cards and reminders [when sent] to all registered families. In that way the parish is not singling out “the dead beats” or making a value judgement upon the donation or the donor. Think of it like this: The parish [read the family’s] need is perceived and all in the parishioners [read family] are notified. After all we, the people of God, the parishioners are the Church.

This probably does not apply to you, as you seem to be an active catholic…in my experience, many [not all] of the biggest complainers regarding collections [or whatever financial request], are those who contribute little to the church, whether it is as a volunteer [time and talent] or cash contribution [treasure]. However, as the statistics on giving show, even active catholics hold the purse strings tightly closed.


#8

Damascus,

Most parish priests receive a salary [and I do not think you would consider it a huge amount]. A vacation made by your parish priest to Australia [or any place else] would not be associated with a collection [second collection or regular Sunday].

Everyone makes descretionary purchases… Even poor poeple make spending decision based upon desires at times rather than need. And this is OKAY. It is okay for a parish priest to take a vacation and still expect parishioners to support the parish. Really I kid you not. There is not a parish any where that requires the parish priest to empty his wallet and savings before asking for money. Likewise, no parish priest expects you to skip the mortgage payment and every Starbucks purchase to support the parish.

Really, we are called to be conscious that all we have, our health, intelligence, everything comes from God. Entrusted to our care, we acknowledge this and give back to God what he freely gave to us. We come to Mass and receive the Eucharist, Heavenly food. We celebrate at the Table of the Lord. Perhaps as we entered for Mass we were given a choice with a menu where the true cost was reflected…

Pitcher of Soda $3.95 and a Large Pizza $16.99

or

The Body and Blood of Jesus
Eucharist
$$$$YOU Do not Have ENOUGH$$$$
Market Price
as in PRICELESS

We just might get it…

But then perhaps we would just order the pizza, we would not have to wait as long…you know for those antiquated readings and all the prayers, we have places to GO…

Okay, I am feeling a little cynical…I apologize…


#9

Well, Chicago Magazine had an article not too long ago on the average Priests pay with out the cash tips he gets or gifts. $70,000. No bills to pay like food shelter clothing ect. or kids they want all of us to have. Insurance and ya know, they can make money on the side if they can. No problem.

I guess its fair and I did not complain - I merely speculate on how a race car can be maintained on that kind of salary. I also think it be wise if the priest (not mine a nearby parish mind you) had asked for the money from the poor folk with kids mortgage payments and bills to get it from them first before digging into Jhonny’s braces fund so he could get to be a world traveller on the parish since he was “working” on his vacation attending Masses everywhere he went.

I guess I was a bit to vauge.


#10

Have you contacted the your diocese to ask for pay scale information. I doubt that any priest in my diocese makes $70K per year unless they were factoring in housing allowance and insurance allowances. Our priests do not receive stipends, clearly stating that in the past stipends were how clergy received compensation. Now they receive a salary. I personally do not make $70K, but I do know that our priests work very hard and if they did make that salary, well good for them. We pay basketball, football and baseball players that much [and more] per game and no one complains about the compensation they receive.

I know priests who give to a number of collections and charities and I have never worried about how my income stacks up…that would seem to be incorrect or petty, perhaps covetous…

Perhaps that race car is the sole source of relaxation and stress releif…It could be just a figment of his imagination, a device to make people think, too Have you actually seen the car?


#11

Let’s face it. If your parish has to send out these letters, there is a good fraction of the parish who are already apathetic.

The best homily I ever heard on finances was given in the following way: the priest got up and went over the debts the parish had incurred, the regular expenses, and why they were what they were. Major expenses that were looming, based on the age of the physical plant of the church, office, and school, were also brought up.

Then the priest said, “The average weekly contribution for families in this parish is one dollar a week. One dollar. I don’t even know what to say to that.” Then he sat down.

In our parish, the pastor notes that there is a space for “We cannot give at this time, but will pray for the financial needs of the parish.” He said clearly in church and in his letters that only the parish secretary would know who pledged what amount, but that it was important to send a card so that future mailings could be avoided. There was also a place to check off “We are no longer a member of this parish”, so that the family would be taken off the parish rolls and the mailing list permanently. As soon as a family turned in a card, they were taking off the stewardship mailing list for the year.

Maybe your pastor could figure out how to do this, to give people an incentive to reply promptly to stewardship campaigns.

BTW, I’m sorry that the word “stewardship” makes you want to barf. God did not give you what you have just to do with as you please. You do have your material possessions on terms of stewardship, and the Gospels say so plainly. It is not a good sign that this fact makes you upset.

Are you upset when the priest brings up the fact that adultery is a sin, just because you are married happily? Do you get upset when the priest repeatedly cautions against gossip, just because it is something you would never do? Telling people where they are failing in the presence of those who do not fail in that particular way is a pastor’s job. It would be interesting to hear how a priest is supposed to deal with people who choose to be offended so easily by having to hear exhortations to do their Christian duties.


#12

I dont get the impression the OP wants to barf over normal tithing I could be wrong but I think the OP wants to barf over this additional tithing request and the manner in which it is being carried out.

I get miffed that our Priests are hitting up the regular Mass goers all the time when he could be hustling more bodies to sit in the pews to get some fresh money coming in.


#13

Anybody who tithes must know that statistics put them in the minority. Most people that I know who do think it is a great idea to encourage others to give more, because they think the giving has done them so much good.

And, by the way, why is it just the priest’s job to “hustle more bodies to sit in the pews”? Who made evangelization the sole job of clerics?

We have a priest shortage, people. We can’t put jobs that the laity could be doing on their laps. A healthy parish has lay parishioners doing most of the “hustling”, because it is far too much for the priest or priests to do.

Priests could just as justly complain that they shouldn’t have to tell people to contribute more, that people should do their duties without having to be reminded like children. This is not the case. If it makes you upset, go ahead and come up with ideas of your own for how to improve the message, but don’t shoot the messenger.

I guess I just know too many priests who dread the weekends when they have to go out hat in hand for money that the parish needs, only to get shelled with complaints for their trouble. Holy Orders isn’t a sacrament to ordain professional fundraisers. Let’s help them out, here, people.


#14

BLB-

I got a cold chill invisioning my shooting of anyone let alone a priest. I am not a killer here come on.

I am sorry if you think I am being hard on them. I dont. Yes we all ought to be doing something to get warm bodies in the pews. And I Include the Priest in that why not? I love hearing about how everyone thinks they are so bogged down they cant manage it. Funny, no cooking, cleaning, laundry or other chores to do and still no time. Yeah they are on call 24/7, and I’ll bet they have some grueling days. I will also bet they have the ability to do it on other days too. You could be right if you speak about your parish but mine has 4 priests. And a deacon. (one just died). So, guess what? Unless we get fresh money in that parish the regular members are going to be bled dry. I did not like the new Gym they built so that some of the middle aged male members could practice basketball a couple nights a week. *the real reason it was built was for the “kids” but, the very people pushing for it happen to use it in said way. Its very nice too. You betcha. But, our roof needs work and there are doors falling apart. But hey! I can play basketball now.

:rolleyes:

Financial mismanagement tends to bleep me off.


#15

Does your parish have a financial counsel? Ours is run by business people in the parish. They make financial presentations to the parishioners and they oversee how money is spent. I feel as if they are very prudent with parish funds. Things like a new gym, for instance, would have been paid for by an entirely separate fund drive than requests for basic church support.

No, we have one priest and now a permanent deacon, and we are extremely thankful to have them. My parents parish used to have a mission, but now they are a mission. It is like that throughout the diocese…the priests are aging and stretched more thinly every year. That forces an entirely different perspective on how much we do for priests and how much of the load we expect them to carry.


#16

We have what they call a “Financial Committe” and they are members of the parish.

I hope things straighten out for all in all parishes, but we only get money from non members in one or two fundraisers we have., the rest are usually an all members event outside of Bingo and the 2 big food fests. But we cant look like a Circus act either putting on events every month. I dont know.

I guess we need fresh money.


#17

70,000 !!!

Don’t let that get out, or all our priests will be flocking to your area. No kidding, our priests made 22K - that was some years ago, but I doubt it has increased all that much. (and we’re supposed to be one of the richer countys in the US)

With “Tips and gifts”, that may be a bit more, but those only come when they have a major event such as their 25th year of ordination. We don’t have any annual or regular gift giving sessions. And I really can’t remember the last time I tipped a priest, (maybe I’m just a cheap skate, but I don’t usually tip for confessions or mass or anything else) I haven;t seen anyone else tip either, so I guess it’s not a common practice at least not here or any other parish that I’ve visited. I must admit I haven’t been to all or even most of the parishes.

Is it a common practice in your area ??? or in anyone elses out there ???

Maybe that’s a good idea, God knows they could use a bit extra spending money.


#18

I doubt the $70K as well, unless they have factored in all benefits likke a housing allowance, insurance, retirement, etc.

And our priest does his own cooking, cleaning, shopping etc. I wonder what diocese pays $70K plus benefits like cleaning services, cooking etc. I know one parish on the Oregon coast that was insulted several years back that the “new” priest’s first act was to tell the cleaning lady that he wanted to take care of his own residence. He came from our parish where that was not provided He did not see any reason to put the parish to the expense; veiwing it as unnecessary. I’ll bet his mom mmade him pick up after himself too! :smiley:

Damascus should be thankful to have four priests as many parishes have “zero”

I started a thread earlier on “How do you determine how much to give?” Being involved in the life of the parish gives you a different perspective on finances and parish support. Catholics are pretty sad in that area. And it is not the sole job of the priests to ‘fill the pews’. By our baptism we are all made “priests, prophets and kings” We are called to evangelize, share the good news.

And you can’t share much Good News if you spend your time complaining becasue you are called upon to support the Church, which is the people of God not the building and not just the clerical class!


#19

My understanding is that our priests have a full salary between $9,500 to $14,000 year. I also read that usually a priest gets $10/mass. Last night I was in church and I saw what my pastor was wearing, it was very dignified but quite frugal.

I hope that he does not see the $70K/year or he is going to transfer.:smiley:


#20

I dont have that issue of Chicago Magazine anymore. It was a listing on all professions and they cited the Archdiocese average in it I recall.

I dont think its too much or not enough, I dont have a clue. But it was specific that it did not include extras. Now, in my parish its common the Priest gets 50-100 for a cash gift for baptisms, (some give 30, but most I know are in the 50-100 range. Weddings, Funerals, you get my drift.

It adds up. And we have volunteers that do their petty chore work for them.

not bad.


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