Brian T. Olszewski, The Catholic Virginian

The Diocese of Richmond’s initial participation in #iGiveCatholic on Tuesday, Dec. 3 resulted in 79 parishes, schools and ministries receiving $209,690 in contributions. Among 40 dioceses participating in this facet of Giving Tuesday, the Diocese of Richmond had the eighth highest amount of money raised.

Margaret Keightly, executive director of the diocese’s Catholic Community Foundation, said the response exceeded the foundation’s expectations.

“We’re thrilled with how it went, especially as it was our first year,” she said, noting she had seen the opportunity as a “natural fit” for the parishes, schools and campus ministries.

Already looking forward to participating in #iGiveCatholic next year, Keightly said they will build upon what they learned.

“Matching gifts were a way to leverage donations,” she said, adding that several parishes and schools bolstered their contributions that way.

The peer-to-peer aspect, in which parents, teachers and alumni encourage people in their network to support their school, was also effective, Keightly said.

‘Connected with people’

Having raised $2,700 during the 2018 Giving Tuesday, College of William & Mary Catholic Campus Ministry set a goal of $3,000 as it prepared for #iGiveCatholic. It raised $6,525 from 36 donors, according John Hopke, development director at the college’s CCM.

“It exceeded our expectations,” he said. “It really connected with people.”

Hopke said the constituent donor base is composed mostly of parents of students, alumni and members of the local Catholic community. 

“We were able to share with people the impact of their gifts,” he said. “Being able to see how their gift is used made a difference. They have a concrete idea of what they’re supporting.”

Among the things CCM’s landing page noted was that a $50 gift covered one week of Sunday Mass and $500 provided supplies for a leadership formation workshop.

Overcoming collection fatigue

Among the 73 donors that contributed to St. Nicholas Parish, Virginia Beach — the most of any parish — was one who offered a $10,000 matching gift. As a result, the parish collected more than $26,000, including $1,500 in bonus money from the Catholic Community Foundation.

“This was generous of Bishop (Barry C.) Knestout to invest in this campaign,” said Lora DiNardo, pastoral associate and business manager at the parish of 1,200 families. “We felt it was a gift that we should try.”

She said the parish has a second collection every Sunday for debt reduction, and they were wondering if people were fatigued from having it.

“We canceled the second collection for the Sunday before Giving Tuesday,” she said. “You could see people were positive about (#iGiveCatholic).”

The money will be used toward debt reduction.

Double impact

Blessed Sacrament Huguenot School, with 280 students in pre-school through 12th grade, had participated in Giving Tuesday in 2017 and 2018, raising $1,000 each year. This year, they set a goal of $5,000.

According to Sue Hickey, director of development, the “family population was excited” about the opportunity to support the school.

“People were driving to the school and handing us checks,” she said.

Among its 48 donors was one who matched a “significant portion” of the more than $14,000 they raised that day. That gift will go into the school’s annual fund, which will result in another gift.

“Once we reach $75,000, we have a family that will match it,” Hickey said.

Expanded reach

Kathryn McElheny, director of development at St. Joseph School, Petersburg, credits teachers and school family members for their ability to raise more than $17,000.

“We expanded our reach because all of our teachers and parents had pages that asked visitors to give,” she said. “We had a personal connection.”

Among the 79 donors was one who made a $4,500 matching gift. 

“We met that challenge,” McElheny said. “The community really embraced (#iGiveCatholic).”

The money will be used to purchase new tables and chairs for the cafeteria used by the school’s 128 students in junior kindergarten through eighth grade.

‘Ready to go again’

The Roanoke Catholic School landing page for #iGiveCatholic is dotted with bursts in which “FUNDED!” appears. The capital letters and exclamation point reflect the enthusiasm Pat Patterson, principal, had for the event.

“It was a smashing success. It was beyond what we expected,” he said. “We were connecting with donors we haven’t had in our fold.”

Besides the needs shown on the landing page, some donors contributed toward things that weren’t depicted.

“We had someone say, ‘I’d like to give money toward lunches.’ He doubled his gift, saying ‘That’s something important to me.’ It was a sizable contribution,” Patterson said. “That wouldn’t have happened if we weren’t doing #iGiveCatholic.”

He called the endeavor a “change agent” for the school with 460 students in grades pre-kindergarten through 12.

“We’re ready to go again,” Patterson said. “We’re counting down the days.”