HOPE Appeal campaign is primed for a strong finish

By Deacon Tom Cuskey | Editor

Some of Beth Lynn Hoey’s friends have asked, “What exactly do you do for the Diocese? What is the Foundation?”

She answers with a smile and an insight into a philanthropic philosophy that has been crafted over the past 30 years of service to nonprofits in need. It’s a philosophy she is now sharing with the Diocese of Syracuse.

“I really want people to connect with the impact they’re making,” explains the executive director of the Foundation of the Roman Catholic Diocese. Hoey took over the reins of the Foundation in October, midstream in the Foundation’s most recognizable effort, the HOPE Appeal. The annual drive is the source of funding for a wide range of ministries and services in the diocese including Catholic schools and parish faith formation programs, formation for lay ministry and Holy Orders vocations, charitable services for the seven-county area served and more. Catholic Charities, for example, serves over 200,000 local people in crisis each year thanks to the HOPE Appeal.

“The mission of the Foundation is to strengthen the Church, and the Church is the people. We are here to serve others,” says Hoey. “How it does that is through annual giving, like the HOPE Appeal, through special gifts to parishes and ministries, and planned gifts that enable people to leave their legacy of support for generations to come.”

Hoey sees herself as a facilitator, gathering the pieces needed to build the Kingdom of God in Central New York.

“I think of it as literally a foundation … to bring together people and resources for stable support of the Church now, to do the work that we are meant to do.” Hoey explains that “the word ‘foundation’ is a perfect word. … People think of money and that’s part of it, but we are here to provide support for everyone to be part of ministry …, to bring people of the community in and to bring our work out to the community and helping that happen.”

  In Hoey’s perspective, she is helping to build a culture of philanthropy that honors all involved. “Any time spent with an individual to show that gratitude and to let them know they matter is time well spent for me. It doesn’t matter if they give two million dollars or two dollars because this is ministry. It’s letting people know that we are all in this together.”

Her experiences, including 25 years as director of development for Francis House, have taught her that philanthropy “is not about the money, it’s not about what we need or what the Church needs. It is about people realizing that they can change lives, impact lives, save lives themselves, in community with others. It doesn’t matter how much you have; you can be that supporting connection, that saving connection through your time and through your gift.”

The most common ways of measuring the success of HOPE Appeal campaigns are through the gifts of dollars raised and performance to goal among others. Hoey’s perspective doesn’t focus on dollar signs, though.

“No one likes to talk about money … but at the end of the day, the money is just the tool, it’s such a little part of all of this, it’s just the tool that helps make things happen.” Hoey adds that making things happen comes down to the individuals who participate in the drive and their desire to foster change and growth. “It takes no time to just ask for money; it takes a much larger investment of time to connect with people and help them make the good things happen that help them make a difference in the world. That’s how I spend my time.”

In the 2021 campaign, there is still time left for contributors to make a difference. As of press time, with a little under seven weeks left until the Dec. 31 close of the HOPE Appeal campaign, more than $3 million has been raised toward a goal of $4,034,670, or more than 74% of the target. More than 12,100 individual gifts have been recorded thus far in the effort.

Hope Appeal Progress

Goal: $4,034, 670

To date: $3,064,434

To go: $970,236

Many of the individual pledge cards that are received contain a personal message or request, a reminder to the Foundation staff that this is about people first and giving second.

“Every time someone writes a note on their pledge card asking for prayer …, Saundra [staff member Saundra Macidyn] spends time collecting those, recording those and giving those to the Bishop. That happens … that matters.”

Hoey is very appreciative of the foundation staff, three people who work very hard at tedious tasks to make sure that ministry happens. “It’s amazing!” she exclaims. And when someone has an issue, comment or question, Beth tries to reach out and respond to as many of them as she can with answers. “I might not get to everybody but I’m trying, to let them know that we hear them, and it matters.”

People give what they can one way or another. “People do the best that they can, and it always seems to be enough,” says Hoey. “Sometimes people can’t give, and then the next year they can, they come back. Or they volunteer.”

Hoey’s vision is a big-picture focus and it’s all about Church. “It is my job to meet the people, which is the Church, and find out how they want to change the world. For me, I’m here to spearhead the Foundation but I’m also here for Church, for the diocese, to make us successful.” She adds that “it doesn’t matter who the check is made out to, or which fund it goes into. If one is successful, we’re all successful. We’re all one Church, right?”

The pandemic has altered the timing of the HOPE Appeal campaigns in the past two years so year-to-year comparisons are difficult to accurately forecast. This campaign winds down during the traditionally most generous time of the year, the holiday season. Hoey is hopeful that the closing weeks of the year will be a most successful period for the drive. Pastors are asked to continue “spreading the word” as Hoey says. Her message to diocesan congregations is simple: “We need your help. … We need your support to do the best that you can and to give a gift that is meaningful for you.”

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