Catholic Vancouver April 16, 2018

Where does the money go? Project Advance improves transparency

By Agnieszka Ruck

Archbishop J. Michael Miller with the Cabalfin family at the Project Advance launch at St. Matthew’s Parish April 7. Nathan and Glenna Cabalfin are supporters of the campaign and are featured in its promotional video. (Photo by Renata Cecconi / Special to The B.C. Catholic)

SURREY—An Archdiocese of Vancouver campaign that has funded schools, churches, and ministries for 38 years is aiming to be more transparent this year.

Project Advance 2018, launched April 7, now includes a breakdown of exactly how much money is earmarked for construction, parish sites, and various programs.

“There has been a myth out there when we go to info sessions that the money is just going downtown somewhere,” said Project Advance appeal coordinator Renata Cecconi.

“It’s not going downtown somewhere. It is being used for the benefit of many.”

This year’s campaign has set a fundraising goal of $3.25 million. Of that total, $1.65 million is destined for construction of secondary schools, $850,000 for archdiocesan ministries, and $650,000 for the new parish sites fund.

The ministries number breaks down even further, showing for example that $150,000 is earmarked for hospital chaplaincy efforts; $100,000 each for prison ministry, evangelization programs, and marriage and parenting programs; and $50,000 for Vanspec, a catechetical program for children with special needs. (See full list).

“We need to be more transparent and show people there really is an impact” when they donate, said Cecconi.

Project Advance campaigns have been successful in recent years. In 2017, the $3 million goal was surpassed twice, with a total of $7.35 million raised.

Cecconi said parishes are assigned fundraising goals based on capacity and ability. If a parish raises more monies than assigned, it hangs on to the difference to fund its own renovations or projects. 

Yet, participation in the campaign is low. Cecconi said rates of participation vary: some parishes have 60-70 per cent of members donating, while others only see cheques from 10 per cent. The average participation rate is 25 per cent.

“If parishes under 30 per cent would bump up participation by even 5 to 10 per cent, we’d be over $8 million,” said Cecconi. “Not everybody can give $100 or $300, but even then, if people just gave $20, $30, or $40, it would make a significant impact.”

In recent years, the “significant impact” of the campaign has so far included building many new churches: St. Matthew’s, St. James, Christ the Redeemer, Canadian Martyrs, Good Shepherd, St. Nicholas (Langley), St. Clare of Assisi, and St. Andrew Kim.

St. Matthew’s is one of several churches that has relied on the help of Project Advance. (BCC file photo)

Many secondary schools have also been renovated or supported thanks to the campaign, including Holy Cross, St. John Brebeuf, Archbishop Carney, and Notre Dame.

This year, high on Cecconi’s mind are St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Patrick’s secondary schools, both of which need serious repair. “We have a lot of challenges still facing us, one of which is the seismic upgrades,” she said.

“This appeal is something we do every year, but it is life-giving and very much needed.”

Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB, has high praise for Project Advance, saying fundraising for education, churches, and ministries is one way to help spread the Gospel.

“Project Advance is an instrument which facilitates our fulfilling the Great Commission of Jesus handed on to us after his Resurrection,” he said at the campaign launch April 7.

“I offer my profound gratitude to all of you for your faithful prayer and hard work in fostering in your parish communities a spirit of stewardship, which calls us to live gratefully and give generously.”

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