Catholic Foundations Plan Discussion on New Era of Closer Cooperation

Washington, DC — Catholic philanthropists in Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities (FADICA) will have a discussion on ways to encourage closer cooperation among themselves and with church leadership, as the nation experiences an unprecedented and severe economic recession.

The conference, entitled: Reinventing Catholic Philanthropy, will feature a dialogue between panels of Catholic charity leaders and foundation chairs. It will take place late next month in Florida.

The meeting will include individual presentations from philanthropic experts and skilled fundraising leaders who have demonstrated the power of philanthropic partnerships through their institutions.

“The Catholic foundation community is acutely sensitive to the economic downturn and its enormous repercussions for the church’s educational and charitable services,” said Francis J. Butler, FADICA’s president, in announcing the gathering.

“More than ever it is urgently important to work together to increase the impact of philanthropic programs,” he added.

FADICA is an association of some fifty private foundations and charitable agencies that come together regularly to interact with Catholic leaders and charity experts and stay abreast of needs and trends relevant to religious philanthropy. On occasion FADICA’s members have worked together on projects of national and international significance to Catholic life.

Among those taking part in the January 29-30 conference will be Father Larry Snyder, President of Catholic Charities USA; Sr. Carol Keehan, DC, President of the Catholic Health Association; Sr. Mary Scullion, Founder of Project HOME, a Philadelphia-based program addressing the needs of homeless families; Father Dennis Dease President of St. Thomas University; Sr. Andrea Lee, IHM, President of the College of St. Catherine; and Mary Flynn Myers, Vice President for Development of the Archdiocese of Boston.

Bestselling author, Bill Somerville, whose new book, Grassroots Philanthropy, coaches philanthropists on how to undertake a more decisive, hands on, people-centered approach to giving, will also share giving techniques as a nationally recognized advisor to 350 community foundations in the U.S.

The new Archbishop of Cincinnati, Dennis M. Schnurr, Treasurer of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, will share with the members of FADICA the funding priorities for the church for the next several years. The USCCB is currently undertaking a process where the U.S. hierarchy is identifying the major areas of emphasis for the next five years.

Cardinal John Foley, Grand Master of the Order of the Holy Sepulcher, will speak to FADICA on the spiritual and moral dimensions of Catholic giving.

The conference comes at a time when giving in general is expected to decrease due to the international economic downturn. Historically, in years when a recession lasted eight months or longer – including the 16 month recession and energy crisis of 1974 – giving fell about three percent per year. However, the severity and undetermined length of the present recession is expected to set new records in this regard.

Recent reports indicate that college and university tuitions and fees are rapidly outpacing median family income and the situation is compounded by dramatic declines in education endowments.

Meanwhile the Chronicle of Philanthropy reports that more than a hundred thousand nonprofit groups will fail within the next two years as a result of the financial meltdown this fall.

“The financial challenges of our era are bringing donors and grantees more closely together and opening up a new environment for more candor about planning, quality, and more collaborative and creative approaches to giving,” declared Mr. Butler.

The conference is by invitation and the proceedings will be available through FADICA in February.