PLEASE HELP! Parish is near forcing us to donate! What to do?


**Please help! I am really nervous about a recent campaign my parish is holding. They are near-forcing donation and we cannot make a pledge, as we are living paycheck to paycheck.

Normally we just check the “will offer prayerful support” box. This time the commitment cards don’t have that box! :eek: They only offer donations of money or kind (goods worth money.) :shrug:

They also “kindly” gave us a chart showing how much we should be giving to this campaign based on our monthly income, and that is the MINIMUM we should be considering! For us this “minimum” is a couple thousand dollars!!! :eek: AND they also said that if we don’t turn in our commitment cards they will call us personally and remind us to. :eek:

I don’t even have an income. My husband does. I ask him to donate what he can and when he can, and for him (protestant) to donate to a catholic church in the first place is pretty good. So I never force anything.

I thought to just ADD a “will offer prayerful support” box to our commitment card and turn that in. But thought that might come across poorly.

Also, what could be the worst that happens if we don’t offer a financial commitment/pledge? Could they take away our membership? Deny our future children baptism? What could happen if we simply do not donate, and refuse the “phone reminder” as well? Is this right of them to be so forceful and in your face about donating?

Please help! Never had this happen before. I’ve always been a member of very wonderful and loving parishes that understand that some people just can’t give financially. :shrug:**


Oh honey, they can’t force you. My husband is not Catholic either and he won’t allow us to give all that I would want to give to the church. God has called you to the sacriment of marriage. You have to keep in mind your husband. They can’t kick you out. They can’t deny the sacriments. Just write on the card that you will prayerfully concider each week what God is asking you to contribute. :thumbsup:


::Sigh:: Nope, they are stuck with you, for better or worse.

I suppose this all came out without any education or catechesis about giving? Otherwise you would not be asking the questions you are.

To be charitable, the parish is trying to see how much it can count on in support. They are drawing up their budget, and after the “everyday” expenses such as electricity and heat, want to see what’s left over.

What is the minimum you can give? $5 a week? $2? $1? Write whatever the minimum is, check the prayerful support box, and add, “Whatever else I can give, I will. Please don’t waste your phone call, as I am the only Catholic in my family.” I would write more, but I am an evil old troll, and have told off a finance committee and priest or two in my lifetime.:smiley:

And make sure you keep track of what you do give, either in a ledger or a spreadsheet. It’s tax deductible, and if you hand them cash in your envelope, you’ll have an accurate count at the end of the year. It will do your heart good to see what you really DO give!!!:thumbsup:


Hi Convert! I agree with the above poster.

Your parish can’t force you to donate/tithe. I belonged to a parish back in PA, that had yearly campaigns to help the Diocese…and it was a couple thousand. I gave to it what we could, but kept up with our weekly tithe. Don’t worry, just give what you can.

God bless!


Don’t worry.!! There is NO WAY your church can force you to give anything, ever.

You also do not owe any explanations for not giving money other than you are not financially able at this time…PERIOD. The church people do not need to know your income, job situation, etc. unless you desire to share this.

In order to be part of the parish, you just sign up, that is all. There are other people who have more money than you and they can do the giving for now. Later, when you have more money, you can give, too. We’re all in this together. I think your church is just establishing guidelines to help those who should be giving but are not…you are NOT in this group.

Now relax.


You may just want to tell your priest quietly, why you cannot give that much or any. Meantime, relax…they can’t throw you out for being financially strapped.


**Oh thank you everyone! :grouphug:

I know in my heart they can’t do anything about us not giving, save maybe being “pesky.” :wink: But, I’ve just never had a parish be so forceful about it…so it really kind of scared me. :blush:

I am just going to ADD a box “prayerful support” and check that. It’s what we CAN give and are going to give. :thumbsup:

I’m sure we could make a monthly five dollar pledge or something, but I just don’t want to force my husband into making more financial commitments other than the bills which are bad enough. We tend to just give on a “when and what we can” basis. So we shall continue with that! :thumbsup: :slight_smile:

Thanks again everyone. This is commitment Sunday, so I will let you know how it all went! :thumbsup:



It sounds like your parish is being a little heavy handed in the way they’re asking for donations, but they also have a point. If everyone donates “when and what we can,” they can’t draw up a very accurate budget. Expenses for everything from utilities to salaries get paid every month. Neither the janitor nor the electric company would be happy being told that we’ll pay you “when and what we can.”

There isn’t a good answer to this since people can’t give more than they can give. But in general, I don’t think Catholics support their parishes as well as Protestants do. (And this isn’t aimed at the OP, it’s just a general comment.)



I have real issues with how this gets handled in many parishes. It leaves a real bad taste in my mouth.

I can understand how they need to have an idea of income. But they already keep track of that from month to month. When they tell you how much they THINK you should give it makes me mad. As a single mom, I give what I can. To be told “You give an average of this per month, we think you should give this–” makes me see red.

There has to be a more Christlike way to do this than the shakedown and followup phone call. And every time you turn around they want a diocesan campaign, a parish campaign, a Bishop’s Lenten Appeal… it gives the perception that all the priests want is money.

And I LOVE my church. I can imagine how it looks to people who are riding the fence and haven’t decided…

They can’t kick you out if you can’t give.


I understand what you are saying. I have a friend who quit the Catholic Church and does not practice any religion because he thought the Church was only interested in money. I have tried to get him to find another parish, but he is not interested. After hearing about all these fundraisers, getting letters in the mail, and listening to the homilies asking for money, he decided he did not want anything to do with the Church. My parish is not like that, but he does not live in my neighbourhood, so I cannot get him to join my parish. I pray for him, but he refuses to go to church.


The last time something similar came up at my parish (although not this heavy-handed) I sent the pledge card directly to the pastor with a note indicating that the amount I had written in (not a large amount) was all I could promise at the time, as I was a student and DH doesn’t make a large salary. I also indicated that in future if we had more room in the budget, we would be happy to give more. He sent back a nice note thanking us for what we were able to do. Since then, we have gotten a bit more flexibility in the budget, so I was indeed able to donate a bit more.

Just talk to your pastor and don’t feel guilty about it. God doesn’t want you to go hungry so that you can meet the “parish minimum”.


A lot of organizations, not just churches, have turned to fundraising companies to run their capital campaigns. A few years ago we had one such company, sent by the diocese, to our parish (and every other parish in the diocese). It really didn’t work well with the people in our town - no one was angry or anything, it just didn’t fit with our town. It’s kind of a long story but in essence it was designed for a town/city with a large population and our town is very small.

It sounds like one of those organizations that tries a one size fits most campaign. It’s just like telemarketing. Maybe it doesn’t work on you, but apparently it works on lots of people or companies wouldn’t use it as a sales method.

I’ll tell you what we do when we get these kinds of pledge cards - we tailor it to our needs. We as a family do better to pay things up front, so that’s what we do with the campaign comes. We write a check for what we can afford after careful consideration, put it in the envelope, and be done with it. Sometimes it’s checking “prayerful support”. I wouldn’t worry about it or be offended in any way if I were you. It’s a fundraising method and you can respond however you wish. Now if they do come after you, there is a problem, but I bet they won’t.


I note that you live somewhere in the South, as do I. I have noticed, as a transplanted New Englander, that there is a more forceful emphasis on “tithing” here than I encountered up North. I think it coes from exposure to the Southern Baptist (and other denominations’) emphasis on tithing.

You can only do what you can do. Perhaps you can volunteer around the parish in some small way, and give a few dollars a month. Write what you wish on the card and ignore the phone call.



My parish says people should contribute time, talent and treasure. If one does not have a lot of money, there are other ways to contribute (sing in the choir, help out at meals for the poor, teach CCD, man a table at the festival, volunteer for Adoration, help with cooking and serving during the fish fry, etc.). If you lack the treasure, you can always volunteer your time and talents. The parish will probably appreciate that, because it is hard to get volunteers. My suggestion would be to find something you could volunteer for and mention that on the form. The parish cannot kick you out if you do not have a lot of money, and your non-monetary service to them may be even more valuable.


You have already received good advice. I wonder too if this is a regional thing? Or even parish to parish?

I recently switched parishes. Between five city blocks the difference of parish pressure to tithe changed considerably. The first church here is rebuilding their church, so it seems every Sunday Mass was money-geared and how they need to reach their $1.5MILLION goal. This past weekend was “World Mission Sunday” and I was used to it being a big push at my parish in WA, but they didn’t even say anything during the homily or in the announcements at Mass. It was just “mentioned” in the bulletin. Mind you it was also the school’s carnival and fund raiser so the priest asked everyone to go over and eat…support the school. Not demanded, just mentioned!

I wouldn’t stress about it. It seems that sometimes the best laid plans by one go-getter can be a slap in the face, or a perception of “oh no they din’nt!” by others. Look at the CCD situation at my church’s chapel branch. You know what I mean? Here the director had a “plan” to get kids and parents back to mass, not realizing she was offending parents who do attend, and pushing ideas that are simply breaking diocesean law, while undermining the beauty of the mass to the kids. It was just an idea, and one she thought might work, but it’s hurting – not helping. Just like your church’s HUGE tithing push.

When they do call, maybe you should mention it? “While I like to give what I can, I feel a bit resentful that you are pushing so hard you are calling me at home. I hope you realize for those of us that can’t give a lot how much embarrasment & guilt this lays on us. THAT is not what Jesus teaches is it?” :shrug:

Continue to go to church, and don’t feel guilty. This is just a bad idea…coming out of probably very good intentions.


There is no such thing as compulsory stewardship. Period. There is compulsory giving, but it isn’t stewardship.

Stewardship is about the need for the faithful to give, not about the parish’s need to receive.



simply write on your commitment card
"monthly income $0.00
10% tithe = $0.00"
and send it back.


There is no shame in living from paycheck to paycheck or falling on hard times due to unforeseen circumstances. I would welcome the telephone call and explain my financial situation.


I am puzzled that you are so stressed about this. I guess “convert in 99” doesn’t mean “convert from a Protestant background” – Right?

I am one of the CRANKIEST people about giving to the parish! But, unlike many Catholics, who came from countries where the government subsidizes the Church, I came from Protestant background where it was very clear WHO was paying the mortgage (us), the heating bill (us), the cooling bill (us), the light bill (us), the building maintenance (us), the pastor’s salary (us), the music director’s salary (us), the DRE’s salary (us), the landscaper’s fee (us).

Catholic parishes in the U.S. are like Protestant churches: We have to pay our own bills and there is nothing wrong about a campaign to help people get that message. None of this is free.

When people tell me they are too strapped to give to the church, I wonder how much they are spending each month on the lottery? Cable TV? Internet access? Cell phone? Car payment?

Not targeting the OP here, because the DH situation is a BIG extenuation, but to my mind, in general, tithing is like being overweight. There’s a whole lot of noise about why we can’t give a couple of bucks or lose those 30 pounds, but not a whole lot of ownership of the fact that we’re eating 600 calories of vanilla ice cream for dessert every night.

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