Catholic organizations join The Big Payback to appeal to donors

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This week, nonprofit organizations across Middle Tennessee are appealing to donors to help them meet the needs of clients at a time when the twin disasters of the March 3 tornado and COVID-19 have forced them to slow down or drastically re-imagine the important work they do.

Catholic Charities of Tennessee and Camp Marymount, the Diocese of Nashville’s summer camp and event rental space, are participating in two important fundraising events this week.

Giving Tuesday Now, which takes place on Tuesday, May 5, is an international emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic, modeled after Giving Tuesday, which occurs annually the week after Thanksgiving.

Locally, The Big Payback, an annual 24-hour fundraising event sponsored by the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, supports religious, educational, social service and cultural organizations in the area. It will take place from 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 6, until 6 p.m. Thursday, May 7.

“For many, typically smaller, nonprofits, these events, especially Big Payback in the spring, are critical to survival,” said Mark Barry, communications and fundraising director for Catholic Charities.

“For Catholic Charities, these events are additional opportunities to reach and connect with potential donors who may not be as familiar with our work as we would hope but may be inclined to support our work.”

These events are also an opportunity to reconnect with previous donors who might need “a soft tap on the shoulder” to be reminded of their support for Catholic Charities, Barry said.

While they have had to adopt their service model in the wake of COVID-19 precautions, Catholic Charities has been busier than ever. Due to the tornadoes and the pandemic, “there is a bottomless pit of need in this community right now,” Catholic Charities of Tennessee Executive Director Judy Orr previously told the Tennessee Register.

These back to back disasters have led to more people in the community who need help getting food and housing, Orr said. “There’s a lot of despair.”

Catholic Charities has been focused on meeting immediate needs, arranging housing for people who lost their homes in the tornado, and providing meals to people who have lost their jobs.

Barry expressed Catholic Charities’ gratitude to all donors who have responded during this time of great need. The organization raised more than $100,000 through last month’s virtual Pathways to Possibilities fundraiser, which he said was “truly a miracle.” To support the work of Catholic Charities, go to

Meanwhile, Camp Marymount, the Diocese of Nashville’s overnight summer camp and year-round event rental space in Fairview, is also in great need of additional donations at this time. As they continue to monitor the situation surrounding COVID-19 before making a final decision about whether summer camp can take place, they are doing all they can to stay afloat. “Camp is needed now more than ever,” said Camp Marymount Director Tommy Hagey.

Hagey has faced “many a sleepless night trying to navigate this whole thing,” he said. “If we can safely do it, we’re gonna do it,” he said of opening the overnight camp this summer.

Camp Marymount has already lost a significant amount of revenue from event rentals that were canceled from March through May, and from having to cancel its annual in-person fundraiser

Marymount in May. Marymount will host an online auction fundraiser May 21-24 to bring in additional revenue. More info can be found at Donations can also be made here:

The Diocese of Nashville is not making a particular appeal in conjunction with the national and local fundraising efforts this week, but Diocesan Director of Development Ashley Linville reminds that all parishioners can go to to donate online to their parish, and support the Bishop’s Annual Appeal at

See the latest story on Catholic Charities’ efforts to help those affected by the tornado and COVID-19 here:

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