Diocesan News

What is the Catholic Foundation?

Story by Tess Wahlmeier

(SNR) - For families who want to give back to the Church but aren’t sure how, the Catholic Foundation of Southern Nebraska is the perfect place to start.

The Catholic Foundation of Southern Nebraska exists to proclaim the Good News of Salvation by offering opportunities to financially support the spiritual, educational, and charitable works of all Catholic parishes, schools, diocesan offices and agencies.

“Today, most of the money donated to endowments at the Foundation goes back to serve local needs,” said Chris Raun, executive director of the Catholic Foundation. “Using Hastings as an example, we have endowments that were established to support Catholic education and two parishes in Hastings, and distributions from those endowments go back to Hastings to meet their needs.”

While the Catholic Foundation was originally established to manage diocesan endowments, and to help schools, parishes, and Catholic organizations meet financial needs, the Foundation was also formed to assist individuals with charitable giving and planned gifts.

“We’re able to share ideas and provide resources to help individuals successfully manage their money and their charitable giving,” Raun said, “and we’re well connected with professionals who can assist them with estate plans and financial plans if they need a referral. We understand that once people gain confidence in their financial plans, they can give focus to charitable giving.  It’s our goal to help people as much as we can.”

The Catholic Foundation of Southern Nebraska likes to help people be creative in their philanthropy to the Church.

“If we can figure out what somebody has in their heart,” Raun said, “we can help them be charitable in a way that is personal and meaningful to them. If they like to serve poor people, we can help them do that. If they like to help low-income students pay for an education, we can do that. If they want to make sure their parish will be financially sound for years to come, we can help them do that.

“If they want to help a seminarian fund his education, or make sure priests and religious sisters can live in dignity in retirement, we can do that,” he continued. “There are just so many different things we can do to help people realize their charitable goals, and at the same time help them meet the needs of their families.”

Today, a growing number of endowments exist at the Foundation for the benefit of Catholic schools, parishes, and organizations; however, individual donors are encouraged to start their own endowments as well. In one family, a member was suffering from cancer, and started an endowment specifically to benefit people suffering with terminal illnesses. That endowment assists people in paying out-of-pocket expenses incurred as a result of their illnesses.

In order to help people be good stewards of their financial resources as they give charitably to the Church, the Catholic Foundation can provide assistance to people with financial planning. Strategies for charitable giving often result in significant tax savings, and people discover they can both improve their financial situation, and give charitably, at the same time.
Examples of tools that can be used for charitable giving include charitable trusts, charitable life estates, and gift annuities, and there are many different types of assets people can donate. 

“People don’t realize the options they have for giving,” Raun said.  “Appreciated stock, depreciated assets, shares of mutual funds, grain, automobiles, real estate, retirement accounts. All are assets people can gift to charity while realizing a tax benefit.”

While educating individuals on different ways to be charitable, the Catholic Foundation manages existing endowments for growth. The ongoing goal is to achieve a steady return on investment, and since the inception of the Foundation an attractive average annual return has been achieved through careful management. Importantly, investment assets have been managed in a manner that is in keeping with Catholic morals and teaching. 

“We screen our investments so that we don’t invest in a company whose mission, products, and services are out of sync with Catholic morals and Catholic teaching,” Raun said.  “That’s really important to us and our donors.”

Individuals can make donations to funds at the Foundation online at catholicgift.org.  Donors can give to a growing list of specific endowments, and can choose to make recurring gifts. For example, if one wants to donate $25 to a parish endowment every month, it can be easily implemented online.

Raun became the executive director of the Catholic Foundation of Southern Nebraska late in 2014 after a 30-year career in the advertising industry, and five years in his own financial services practice. He and his family are very involved in the Church, and Raun said taking his position at the Catholic Foundation was a perfect way to make every day count.

“It’s interesting how God leads you to things,” he said.  “Coming to the Foundation was a perfect evolutionary step for me because of its important mission. Every day, I’m working with wonderful Catholic people who are of a mind to be charitable, they’re kind and generous, and when somebody new calls me on the phone, it’s the start of a new relationship.  I really love the work.”

One of the most meaningful parts for Raun is that the Catholic Foundation assists individuals for free.

“The beauty of this from the donor’s perspective is that my staff and I are not salesmen who benefit personally from their decisions,” he said.  “We’re just here to help them accomplish their goals.”

The Catholic Foundation serves the entire diocese, and Foundation board members are located throughout the Lincoln Diocese, from Imperial to Falls City.  Raun said the board of directors is a valuable asset, both personally and within the workings of the Foundation.

“I not only learn from them myself, but am able to leverage their knowledge, their expertise, and their perspective,” he said. “These are successful people, and their perspective is really important to the Foundation. I like to tap into them as a resource as much as possible because they are very helpful to me, and to the Foundation.”

The board of directors currently includes Mike Klein (Holdrege), Vickie Malleck (McCook), Peg Welch (Hastings), Chere Kane (Valparaiso), Glenn Baumert (Wahoo), Scott Gubbels (Lincoln), Pat Kenner (Hebron), Ann Hovis (Lincoln), Jack Crowley (Hastings), Robert Aitken (Falls City), Mike Balters (Lincoln), Allen Moravec (David City), Dorothy Endacott (Lincoln), Jim Spahr (Seward), Tom Terryberry (Imperial), and Walter Zink (Lincoln).

Ex-officio board members include His Excellency, Bishop James D. Conley, Msgr. Timothy Thorburn, Msgr. Liam Barr, Msgr. John Perkinton, and Father John Sullivan.

Individuals, parishes, and schools may contact any of these board members to learn more about the Catholic Foundation. They can also call Chris Raun directly at 402-488-2142, or Les Mach, gift planning officer, at 402-443-6180 to learn more about charitable giving and financial planning.

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