Will your Catholic School stay open?
By Tim Bogatz, Stewardship and Development Office
Does your parish and school have an endowment?
Msgr. Cyril J. Werner dedicated much of his life to Catholic education. Having served many years as pastor in the Hartington, Bow Valley and Fordyce areas, he became very close to the families of these communities. His involvement with the community was always focused on caring for the individual families of Cedar County. Before passing away in February 2012, Msgr. Werner saw to it that he will still impact these beloved communities for years to come.
The Msgr. Cyril J. Werner Endowment Fund was established to provide ongoing tuition assistance to keep Catholic education accessible in Cedar County. To date, more than $41,000 in tuition aid has been distributed to Cedar County–area schools. This is just one example of how an endowment can provide support that enables your school and/or parish to continue impacting lives well into the future. Understanding the role endowments have in sustaining the future of our mission is a critical topic worthy of discussion among parish and school leadership.
Starting a Discussion
You can begin that discussion by asking some important questions like, does our institution have an endowment? Is it funded? What do people know about it? You might be surprised by what you find out. Some parishes and schools have endowments that are decades old but no one knows about them. Pastors and business office staff are natural places to begin your search but another resource is the Omaha Archdiocesan Educational and Parish Foundation. The Foundations have been in existence since 1977 and they manage nearly 200 endowment funds that benefit Archdiocesan parishes, schools and ministries. The Msgr. Werner fund is managed by the Foundations and lots of information about this fund is accessible by contacting the Foundation.
Our parishes and schools are chalk full of inspirational, transformative stories that communities want to hear about. I would guess that the story of the people who created and contributed to your endowment is no different. Helping people understand that the support your institution receives from the endowment plays a role in the success of your mission. Connecting these two stories together can be a powerful way to show how people from our past want to help the present. This linkage between the fund and the lives it is helping transform is a meaningful and personal invitation to encourage others to support the fund or start their own. This relationship with God compelled them to make a gift that they hope will help sustain our Church and enable others in the community to experience Jesus’ love far into the future.
Sharing the origins of an endowment is one component to telling the story as it gives context and purpose. But what really makes the difference is sharing how the fund impacts the community. Adding how the fund directly impacts the parish/school community gives the story life and makes it easy for others to see its importance.
Giving to an endowment fund is easy because they can accept many types of gifts. The more difficult part is making your stakeholders aware that a fund exists and can accept additional gifts. People like options, and donors are no different. An endowment fund can help round out your parishes giving options. Depending on the donor, deciding what their philanthropic giving priorities are can involve a lot of variables and starting an endowment fund may fulfill an unmet need for them. Donors who make a planned gift to an endowment are investing in the parish, therefore have all the more reason to see it flourish. This can often lead to an increase in annual giving.
The Archdiocese of Omaha is blessed to have a rich history full of faith-filled people who truly cherish our Church and the relationships they have built with others through the good work of Jesus. Many of these incredible people have given gifts who will help those serving the church far into the future.
Tim Bogatz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.