Catholic Charities Announces Launch of Appeal 2020

Sets $10 million goal

Brendan Keany
January 14, 2020 - 1:45 pm
Catholic Charities

(WBEN Photo/Brendan Keany)


BUFFALO (WBEN) - The fundraising push is on for an annual appeal that serves tens of thousands in need across the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo.  On Tuesday, Catholic Charities announced the official launch of Appeal 2020 - a fundraising campaign that will run through June.

"Embarking on my first Appeal, I have been meeting with both clients and supporters, hearing firsthand the impact that Catholic Charities has on our community," said Deacon Steve Schumer, who serves as president and CEO.

The annual Appeal, now in its 96th year, raises funds to aid 51 programs administered by Catholic Charities throughout Western New York, and the organization claims that the 2019 Appeal benefited more than 160,000 people.

"Our $10 million goal recognizes the challenges associated with raising such a significant amount of money in today's environment while also realizing the ongoing need for critical programs and services that we provide," Schumer continued.

Appeal 2020 Chair Rick Cronin spoke to the wide variety of programs and people this money touches.

"We've been helping people across the board, across the eight counties in Western New York, people of all social strata, people of all desperation levels, people who need a little help, kids, adults that need counseling..." he said.

Listen to the full press conference below:

However, this year's $10 million goal is a fairly significant decrease from last year's $11 million goal, of which only $9.3 million was met. Schumer says it isn't terribly uncommon for the goals to decrease and vary on a year-to-year basis, but given the sex abuse scandal that has plagued the Buffalo Diocese over the past two years, many have wondered if people are now becoming more hesitant to pick up their checkbooks.

"Every year, we assess sort of the economic climate; we assess the needs, and we try to set the goal in accordance to what we think is achievable while allowing us to fill the needs," said Schumer. "This is not the first time the goal has been lowered - in the many, many years we've been doing the Appeal, the goal has gone up and the goal has gone down."

Naturally, Albany Bishop and Buffalo Diocese Apostolic Administrator Ed Scharfenberger was asked if he believes there's a sort of fatigue among Catholics in the region, especially given the circumstances of the scandal and the change in leadership, which has yet to be completely resolved.

Bishop Sharfenberger

"I can't generalize as to what makes a person say, 'I think I'll put my money here rather than there,'" he began. "This much I know - this is my confidence - I know that those who are motivated to give to Catholic Charities...are doing it because they believe in the good that is being done through this particular Appeal. If, for whatever reason, they lose confidence in that and find some other way of helping the poor, that's their decision. I can say with confidence that this is probably the best way in which you can be sure your resources, your charity and your sharing will actually reach the goal that you wish it to reach."

Listen to Scharfenberger's comments below:

Cronin noted another reason, not having to do with the scandal, as a possibility for the decrease in donations.

"The demographics of Western New York have changed a lot since I became involved in Catholic Charities," said Cronin. "The death rate, if you want to call it that, is important. Many of our donors are older, and many of our donors move out of Western New York to follow their children and grandchildren. Many of our donors pass away. We've noticed a trend, I'd say in the last eight years, we've probably gone from 50,000 donors maybe to 35,000 donors, and it's not because of dissatisfaction, it's just simple demographics."

Regardless, Cronin says he's confident that this year's goal can be achieved.

"I think some people have been dissatisfied; they have to be convinced that we are using our money for the people that need it, as the bishop just said," he continued. "State law requires us to honor donor designation, so the money cannot be touched. I think people have always been a little suspicious of authority, whether it's government or ecclesiastical, but we've got a great base and I'm confident."

Listen to Cronin's full comments below:

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