This year, Catholic Charities expanded the Pathways to Possibilities fundraiser into a week-long virtual event to share its mission and raise vital funds. It took place April 12-16 and raised $166,000 during that time.
Catholic Charities has now shifted the event into a longer campaign and is accepting donations through the end of the fiscal year, June 30, through the site https://cctenn.org/pathways/.
“The need for services increased by 50 percent last year,” according to Judy Orr, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Nashville. In 2020, the social service arm of the diocese responded to multiple disasters, including the March 3 tornado, the economic fallout of the pandemic, and the Dec. 25 bombing in downtown Nashville, in addition to offering all its regular services like school counseling, refugee support, and community food programs.
With the increased demand for services comes a need for increased donations to support the breadth of work that Catholic Charities does. The goal for this year’s Pathways to Possibilities was to raise $200,000, according to Orr.
“I fully expect we will achieve that number,” said Gene Gillespie, Catholic Charities’ director of development. “We’re tracking very positively.”
In addition to individual donors, Catholic Charities got a big boost from corporate sponsors this year, including the presenting sponsor, the First Horizon Bank Foundation, which donated $30,000.
Outside of the government, Catholic Charities is the largest provider of social services in Middle Tennessee. With a 59-year history and such a broad scope of services, Catholic Charities doesn’t have a niche focus like many other local non-profits.
This makes it an appealing cause for corporate donors, and Gillespie is working hard to build more relationships with these major donors as Pathways to Possibilities continues.
“This is a growing initiative for Catholic Charities,” he said, “to align with our corporate sponsors and engage their employees in the work we do, as it also supports their philanthropic vision and commitment to the community.”
As more corporations look to make an impact in their communities, Catholic Charities is a natural partner, Gillespie said, with its workforce development programs, active presence in minority communities, and support for basic needs like housing and food security.
Pathways to Possibilities is “really about awareness building and that starts with telling stories of the people we serve,” said Orr.
She encourages people to visit Catholic Charities’ designated Pathways to Possibilities web page, where videos from each day of the virtual fundraiser will remain available to view, including a mini-documentary telling the stories of a tornado survivor, a refugee family, and a man who was directly impacted by both the Christmas day explosion and COVID-19.
“We have some amazing stories there,” Orr said.
She said that donations in any amount are welcome, and are considered unrestricted dollars, “that help fill in the gaps that some of our other funding won’t cover. This is critical for the work we’re doing.”