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Catholic Charities surpasses its fundraising goal

For the fifth consecutive year, Catholic Charities of Buffalo exceeded its annual fundraising goal by collecting more than $11.1 million – some $200,000 higher than its goal.

The money from the 91st annual appeal will help support 70 programs and services for the homeless, the poor and those in need of social assistance across the eight-county diocese.

Sister Mary McCarrick, diocesan director of Catholic Charities, said the program has helped serve more than 142,000 people.

Monsignor David Slubecky, vicar general and moderator of the curia for the Diocese of Buffalo, announced the total instead of Bishop Richard Malone, who was out of town. Referring to a letter by St. Paul in 2 Corinthians, Slubecky compared the generosity of Buffalonians to the Macedonians.

“Despite having limited resources, they gave generously, often disregarding their own needs,” he said. “The spirit of generosity was abundantly evident throughout the eight counties of our diocese as we progressed through the 2015 appeal these past six months.”

The massive infusion of cash comes at a time when the donor pool is shrinking, McCarrick said, forcing the organization to rely more on large one-time donations.

This year, more than 23 percent of the money collected came from 3 percent of the donors.

It also comes at a time when Catholic Charities needs more money to fund its services. Catholic Charities needed $10.7 million in 2013 and $10.8 million last year.

To encourage more donations from more members, parishes used new technologies in conjucntion with timeworn techniques.

Catholic Charities worked with M&T Bank to allow churchgoers to simply swipe a credit card through a reader on a tablet after Mass.

Parishes also utilized customized bulletins and inserts, invited guest speakers, hosted mini-missions and held phone-a-thons to help generate additional funds.

One downtown Buffalo church was among four that were recognized for significantly outperforming fundraising expectations.

St. Louis Church in Buffalo collected more than $124,000 for the appeal, which was more than 14 percent higher than its goal. For its fundraising prowess, the church received an engraved plaque.

In previous years, excess money raised in the campaign has been used to help open additional food pantries in Wellsville and Franklinville, McCarrick said. This year, a large portion of the excess funds – about $60,000 or so, according to McCarrick – will be set aside for general improvements suggested by staff members.

“Maybe it’ll be several small projects, maybe it’ll be something we can start and we can test and then look for funding for,” she said. “We’re very excited. (The staff) are the ones working day-to-day. It’s all through their hard work and their creativity, so we want to fund that and see where it takes us.”

The theme for the 91st appeal was “Find Good Within,” and its patron saint was St. Francis of Assisi.