Learning the Art of Sharing First annual diocesan Stewardship and Development Conference

By Luke Eggleston/ SUN staff writer
Planning takes time and effort, especially for a community as large as a parish. For many parish communities in the diocese, these efforts are provided by a small group who are constantly brainstorming for more effective methods of supporting a parish.

The Office of Stewardship and Development has scheduled a day to take the lead and present ways by which parishes can improve their missions, expand on their accomplishments and improve their organization.

In a letter sent throughout the diocese, Bishop James Moynihan invited parishioners to take part in the first annual Diocesan Stewardship and Development Conference.

“This conference is intended to focus on some of the practical aspects of developing time, talent and treasure in your parish,” Bishop Moynihan said in his letter. “It is a basic primer on some of the issues parishes are faced with on a daily basis.”

The conference, scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 30 at the Bishop Harrison Diocesan Center, consists of three breakout sessions, each offering a variety of presentations lasting 45 minutes. The day begins with an opening reception and a welcome from Bishop Moynihan, and it finishes with a hot buffet lunch.

“This is an outstanding opportunity for the diocese to give back, to teach them [parishioners] how to use their resources locally and on what areas to improve,” said Christopher Parker, director of the Development Office.

The session, “The Practical Steward,” discusses the factors research has shown motivate people to support their parish. The session, “Maximizing Volunteers,” focuses on ways of recruiting volunteers and how to nurture the time and talent spent by volunteers. “Marketing Your Ministries” is a workshop exploring the basic concepts and strategies of developing an outlook for ministries. Practical ways to increase the income of a parish and techniques to improve parish giving will be the focus of “Increasing Parish Growth.” “Parish Communications” will be led by Danielle Cummings, director of the Diocesan Office of Communications, discussing ways of assessing and analyzing communication within the parish. “Capital Campaigning” is scheduled to present the successful practices of researching and implementing capital campaigns. Experts in estate planning and gift annuities are offering information on these diocesan administered opportunities.

Parker explained that the conference is presented in a manner which should be useful to pastors, parish council members, trustees, and volunteers, as well as anyone else interested in these aspects of parish life.

“Basically the parishes need assistance and tools to improve and accomplish their missions,” Parker said. “We want them to know where best to find the assistance and to let them know we can be of resource to them.”

In his presentation about marketing, Father Charles Vavonese, assistant diocesan superintendent of Catholic Schools, plans to dispel the myth that marketing is just about financial resources.

“Marketing is really another tool as to how we talk and present to a group of people the mission of the parish or school. It’s basically saying here’s our mission and how do we make contact with the people we want to serve,” Father Vavonese said. “Some people think marketing is about selling, but it’s as much about relationships. It’s the relationships that trigger the person to become involved in a mission.”

He added that, in part, stewardship is the process of assessing the needs of the people a mission is to serve and to adjust the resources and relationships accordingly. Each session held during the conference is designed to present practical ideas which can yield results in three to six months.

“We’re trying to help them improve volunteer management, recruitment and retention. Other things, such as increasing ordinary income is also a focus,” Parker said. “”We need to recognize that we can all be better stewards of our resources.”

The Development Office is responsible for management and advertising of the Hope Appeal, which is a major source of fundraising for missions. The office also serves as a development consultant to parishes that are organizing annual and planned giving campaigns.

Kathryn Mott, associate director of annual giving, explained that parishes often need insight to understand better what type of functions they can perform at the parish level. She added that the conference is an opportunity for parishioners to meet those that work in the Development Office.

“It’s one thing to say that they want to plan something, it’s another for a parish to actually do it and be effective at it,” said Mott. “We want to help them use their resources effectively to gain a better understanding of how to effectively communicate.”

In addition to the sessions, the conference will include eight booths of vendors and sponsors with information about products and activities available to parishes.

For more information, contact the Development Office at (315) 472-0203. Regardless of the number of attendees from a parish, the Development Office is requesting a registration fee of $10 per parish by Oct. 23.

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