FIRST YEAR OF #IGIVECATHOLIC PROVES SUCCESS FOR DIOCESE

The Diocese of Nashville’s first participation in the #IGiveCatholic national online giving campaign on Tuesday, Dec. 3, was a success, raising more than $73,000 for 26 schools and ministries, said diocesan Stewardship Director Ashley Linville.
 
“I definitely think it was a success,” Linville said. “It goes to show what generous people we have in the diocese that care about the mission of these organizations.”
 
The online and other gifts totaled $73,519 from 270 donors. The gifts were designated for 26 schools and ministries in the diocese.
 
The top two recipients were two of the smallest schools in the diocese; St. Patrick School in McEwen received $21,481.60 in online gifts and St. John Vianney School in Gallatin received $15,710. Each had 32 online donors.
 
“It’s exciting to see some of the smaller schools do so well,” Linville said.
 
At St. Patrick School, the staff worked hard to promote the giving campaign to the parents of their students, asking them to share the link with their extended family, friends and others, explained Sister Mary Grace Watson, O.P., St. Patrick’s principal.
 
The school also promoted the campaign on all of its own social media outlets and placed announcements in the bulletins at St. Patrick Church and St. Christopher Church in Dickson, the two parishes where most of St. Patrick’s students belong, Sister Mary Grace said.
 
“We tried to engage as many people as we could,” she said.
 
The school also listed three capital improvements the money raised would be used for. “They were very concrete,” Sister Mary Grace said. “When people gave, they knew exactly how they were helping us.”
 
The three needs were to put up a sign at the front of the school, to paint the school’s exterior doors, and to put down a new layer of wood chips on the school playground. The school picked simple projects, but ones that it would be easy for donors to see how their money was used, Sister Mary Grace said.
 
The cost of the three projects totaled $10,000, and the school received more than twice that amount in donations. “The remainder of the money will be used as a kickstart to our annual fund drive, which goes to offset the difference between our tuition and the cost of education,” Sister Mary Grace said.
 
St. John Vianney also heavily promoted the giving campaign to its school community and listed specific needs to be funded.
 
Lara Schuler, the assistant superintendent of schools for the diocese and the interim principal at St. John Vianney, started by talking to the school board and parents about the campaign. She also sent parents a letter and asked them to share the link for making a donation with their extended family and friends.
 
The school also made three videos featuring students holding placards with the needs to be funded and shared them through social media, Schuler said. And the school created a competition among the classes to see which would raise the most.
 
“I put it on Facebook a gazillion times,” she added.
 
“You have to promote it,” Schuler said. “People have to know what it is and what it’s going to go for.”
 
The items the school was raising money for were: visual aids, new Chromebooks, updating the technology infrastructure, purchasing the Quaver Music Program, purchasing a subscription for the IXL curriculum for online enrichment in various subjects; and bringing back Spanish classes to the school.
 
“We needed about $15,000” to meet all those needs, and exceeded it, Schuler said.
 
The involvement of the school’s families helped make the campaign a success, Schuler said. “We had a really strong response from the families,” she said. “I think they did a fabulous job.”
 
The giving portal opened about two weeks before the actual day of the campaign so people could make an early gift. Schuler said. “Parents started getting excited when they could go online and watch as the donations came in.”
 
The #IGiveCatholic campaign was started by the Archdiocese of New Orleans as an outgrowth of the #GivingTuesday online donation program to support non-profits around the country held annually on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. The #IGiveCatholic campaign was directed specifically at Catholic schools and ministries and has grown to now include 40 dioceses.
 
Giving online makes supporting the parishes, schools and ministries of the diocese easy, said Schuler. “It’s quick and fast and easy,” Schuler said. “They can access it from their phone.”
 
St. Patrick is moving more and more to online giving, Sister Mary Grace said. “It seems like it’s an easy way for people to give.”
 
“We were so grateful to the diocese for giving us this opportunity,” she added.
 
The campaign has the potential to grow in the future, Schuler said. “This time being the first time, people hold back seeing what it is and how it works. I think if they do it again next year, more people will participate. People will understand how it works.”
 
“We definitely want to get feedback from everyone about how the day went,” Linville said. “The numbers look good but we really want to hear feedback … what worked well, what we can do better.”
 
To see how much each of the ministries in the diocese received, visit Nashville.igivecatholic.org.