By S.L. Hansen
(SNR) - The Diocese of Lincoln’s annual Charity and Stewardship Appeal (CSA) will officially launch the weekend of May 7 and 8, with some parishes offering “early bird” opportunities to give this weekend.
Father Michael Zimmer, CSA director, said the theme is, “Be merciful, even as your Father is Merciful.”
“The theme was determined in conjunction with the Jubilee year of Mercy called for by Pope Francis,” he explained.
He offered a reminder that the Church defines mercy as more than the forgiveness of sins: All Catholics are called to practice the Corporal and Spiritual works of Mercy.
“The Charity and Stewardship Appeal supports various apostolates and ministries that embody those works,” Father Zimmer reasoned. “By contributing to the CSA, we reflect in some way the mercy of our Heavenly Father.”
CSA funding supports 19 different diocesan-wide ministries, as well as every single parish and school. In fact, a high percentage of the CSA funds collected are returned to the parishes for local use.
Each parish has been given a carefully calculated dollar goal to reach during the campaign. From that goal, a percentage is designated as a rebate so that each parish can benefit from the generosity of the local Church family.
Father Zimmer noted that the rebate structure was initially established as a creative way to make tax deductible donations primarily to Catholic education. For that reason, schools are a big part of the rebate program.
“If a parish supports one school, 40% of the goal goes back to the Parish,” he said. “If they support two schools [elementary and high school] 80% of the goal is returned to the parish.”
Additionally, every single dollar raised above the goal is returned to the parish.
One key change in the CSA campaign this year is the way pledges are being reported. This stems from the retirement of one of the campaign’s long-standing volunteers.
“Margaret Budell has faithfully served in the program for many years and is now retiring,” Father Zimmer said. “We are grateful for all of her work and because of this we are changing the procedure of reporting pledges.”
Thanks to recent system upgrades, the diocese is now able to process all pledge cards and funds automatically through the Union Bank LockBox. This service was designed to increase accuracy and, reduces costs.
“Parishes can track their pledges and redemption of the pledges,” Father Zimmer said. “It will also mean that the rebates will be more readily available to the parishes.”
He takes the cost of running the CSA very seriously. For example, this year, he ensured that the diocese was able to save more than $9,000 on the DVD.
“We continue to drive down administrative costs to be good stewards with the funds people contribute,” he said.
Father Zimmer said that the CSA accrues less than 3% administrative costs, or less than three cents of every dollar.
“To put in perspective, many major charities operate between 10% and 25% in administrative costs,” he said. “We are proud to continue to be good stewards with the funds generously donated by the faithful.”
Catholics throughout the diocese can expect to be invited to contribute through bulletin announcements, appeals from their pastors and fellow parishioners. All are urged to assist their parishes by responding prayerfully and rapidly, which will help reduce the number of personal visits that must be made by pastors and volunteers.
For more information about the CSA, where the money is used and how you can help, contact your pastor or parish office. Monetary donations can also be mailed to The Bishop’s Charity and Stewardship Appeal (DDP), P.O. Box 80328, Lincoln, NE, 68501-0328. Please note the name of your parish with your contribution.