St. Albert the Great Parish, St. Joseph School in U.S. Top 100 for funds raised
By Emily Booker
Diocese of Knoxville parishioners began the season of giving in a robust way.
#iGiveCatholic is an online giving initiative held in dioceses across the United States on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving every year.
The Diocese of Knoxville has hosted the #iGiveCatholic giving day since 2017. Over the last five years, participating parishes, schools, and ministries across East Tennessee have collectively raised $664,734 in support of projects for their communities.
For the 2023 giving day, $184,635 was raised through #iGiveCatholic, benefiting 13 Catholic ministries in East Tennessee.
The generosity of this year’s participation exceeded all expectations, with more donors giving this year than any other year, and with the highest number of gifts given since the diocese began hosting #iGiveCatholic in 2017.
For full results from the 2023 #iGiveCatholic campaign in the diocese, readers can visit knoxville.igivecatholic.org.
Two Diocese of Knoxville ministries were in the Top 100 leaderboard for the entire nation. St. Albert the Great Parish in Knoxville ranked No. 53, and St. Joseph School in Knoxville ranked No. 98.
St. Albert the Great Parish was on track to pay off its debt sometime in 2024. Michael Persicano, finance manager and office manager at the parish, explained that the parish wanted to eliminate its debt by the end of the fiscal year in June in order to kick off a new five-year plan.
“We’ve been around long enough that we’re approaching needs that are going to be coming up, like maybe a new roof or different maintenance around the church,” he explained. “The idea was if we can eliminate our debt, then that would free up funds to be able to start our five-year plan.
“We were thinking of a way that we could do a special campaign for trying to eliminate our debt. We started thinking about #iGiveCatholic, and we thought, ‘This could be a really good opportunity to try #iGiveCatholic.’ I think it just really resonated with parishioners and this whole idea of Giving Tuesday.”
The parish advertised the giving day on its website and in the church bulletin. Parishioners also received a letter detailing what needs would be coming up in the parish in the near future. The idea was to focus on the future strength of the parish community.
“Wouldn’t it be nice instead of the building fund going toward debt, what if the building fund now becomes something we use to pay as you go, you know, instead of having to borrow in the future, to be able to have this building fund to pay for immediate needs?” Mr. Persicano said.
A generous parishioner offered a challenge: if the parish could raise $25,000 by Christmas he would match what was raised up to $25,000.
“That was huge. That was absolutely huge,” Mr. Persicano said.
Building the momentum worked. On Giving Tuesday, St. Albert the Great swiftly exceeded its goal, raising $61,377.
“It was amazing. I mean, we had a goal, but to have it done by Christmas. And we hit it on Giving Tuesday.”
St. Jude School in Chattanooga also saw large support through #iGiveCatholic. St. Jude School has been using Giving Tuesday in lieu of an annual fund campaign for several years now. Donations from the giving day go toward the school’s annual fund, covering regular expenses such as teacher development, student assistance, and special events and activities.
Kathleen Preston, development director of St. Jude School, said that while the school hosts various fundraisers for specific causes throughout the year, it does not hold a traditional annual campaign.
“We focus on #iGiveCatholic on Giving Tuesday. It is the only day of the year that we actively solicit funds for our annual campaign,” she explained.
“Our annual fund really covers those things that fall outside the special things [covered by targeted fundraisers]. We help with tuition assistance. We do teacher development. We do special projects at school.”
Ms. Preston said that she finds #iGiveCatholic a simple platform to connect ministry and giving.
“The thing I like about #iGiveCatholic is it is presented in a way that it is just an easy project to manage. They give you all of the tools and suggestions and the artwork. It’s a really great program,” she noted.
And families and donors have become accustomed to donating to the school on that one special day.
“We talk about it being just one day for this one fund for this one school. So, it’s very simple,” Ms. Preston said.
St. Jude School raised $18,130 on Giving Tuesday through #iGiveCatholic, with 120 donors supporting the school.
Ms. Preston said donations came in from current families, grandparents, alumni families, and the parish community.
“We have just been really blessed by the turnout and the support that we have from those people,” she said. “Our kids are always very appreciative.”
Thanks to support from Catholic Extension, the Diocese of Knoxville was able to give out two $1,000 prizes this year to participating ministries. Prizes were randomly selected and posted on diocesan social media platforms to generate excitement and support for the giving day. Prize winners were St. Jude School as well as St. Thérèse of Lisieux Church in Cleveland.
“We were thrilled to have been the winner of that particular drawing,” Ms. Preston said. “That will only enhance our ability to utilize our annual funds to better our school and our programs.”