How not to Raise Funds in the Catholic Church

This past weekend at the parish where I help out we had a visiting priest make an appeal for a development organization, Cross International. It raised some red flags:

  1. To Catholic audiences, Cross International presents itself as a Catholic ministry. The term “Catholic Outreach” is all over their literature complete with pictures of the pope, religious sisters, priests and bishop. But, I suspect that “Catholic Outreach” does not refer to Catholics reaching out to the poor as it may appear, but refers to that organization’s outreach to Catholics to fund their ministries. On the phone, once I had identified myself as a Catholic priest, the spokeswoman claimed that the organization was founded by Catholic lay people some 8 years ago.
  2. Their website indicates that they are a ministry of the Kielar Family Foundation. Some further research online revealed that the organization is, in fact, a Baptist organization. See this web link: http://www.crosstv.com/crossint.htm and then click on the “Statement of Faith” link.
  3. The priest who came to our parish told me that this organization had permission to not take a second collection but have the people put money in the envelopes to send in directly with their addresses and phone numbers and email addresses or give them to him on their way out of mass. Upon dropping him off at the airport, a great wad of cash and envelopes spilled from his pocket, which gave me the impression that there was no accountability for what he had collected—though this is only an impression. Still, without a second collection to be counted by the parish, there is no system of accountability. And, envelopes filled out by parishioners leave them vulnerable to multiple future appeals. Later, I learned that the Diocese has a strict policy requiring a second collection for each appeal so that the money can be counted and sent to the organization by the Diocese, not the parish.
  4. While here, the visiting priest said that there are eight full time staff at Cross International making calls to parishes to allow appeals and 50 priests on call to make the parish visits. Other priests in my area have told me they are regularly hounded by aggressive phone calls from Cross International to permit an appeal in their parish. [It should be noted that dioceses across the country require parishes to take one mission appeal from a Catholic missionary organization each year. And, each organization is given one parish appeal per diocese per year. Cross International defeats this system by calling pastors directly and pressuring them to take an additional appeal. So, while legitimate Catholic missionary organizations are strictly limited in their appeals to one parish per diocese per year, Cross International is canvassing parishes throughout the country at will. Clearly, fairness is at issue here, as well.]

Later, when I called Cross International to confront them with all these inconsistencies, they admitted that they were two organizations in one–that is, one organization with one logo with two faces. Cross International is the Protestant (though they claimed not to be Baptist despite their own literature) side and Cross International Catholic Outreach is the “Catholic side.” But, this essential fact does not appear anywhere in their literature. And no list of the ministries they support is to be found anywhere in their printed literature. The second spokeswoman claimed that Protestant funds go to Protestant ministries and that Catholic funds go to Catholic ministries–but again, nothing in their literature admits to this division of funds or ministries, so accountability for their funding is impossible. Furthermore, she said that any checks made out to simply “Cross International” would go to the Protestant side, nevermind that our visiting priest routinely called the organization just that.

Apparently, their appeals around the country are quite successful, having distributed over $90 million in the past year to Protestant ministries and over $58 million to Catholic ministries. Note that these are two separate and parallel websites neither of which link to or acknowledge each other.

Note that $57 million of the $58 million on the Catholic side goes to just one beneficiary. If there is a primary beneficiary, why is it not highlighted in some fashion elsewhere on the site? What is MOPS anyway? Why does MOPS have multiple entries but one by itself is so huge? I am no expert in any way on these matters, but they raise real questions in my mind.

And, if Cross International was founded by lay Catholics, why is the Protestant side so much bigger?

Is accountability and transparency too much to ask for? I have no basis for saying that funds do not go where they are said to go, but these questionable business and church practices make me wonder…

Hmmmmm…..

About these ads

42 Responses to How not to Raise Funds in the Catholic Church

  1. […] How not to Raise Funds in the Catholic Church Other priests in my area have told me they are regularly hounded by aggressive phone calls from Cross International to permit an appeal in their parish. Dioceses across the country require parishes to take one mission appeal from a … […]

  2. Charles R. Williams says:

    MOPS stands for Missionaries of the Poor Sisters. I think it’s legit.

  3. jh says:

    Father I do think of course we should be wary. ANd you raise legit question. But their Catholic side does look impressive as well as someof the priest they have on staff

  4. Fr. J. says:

    Charles, thanks for the MOPS explanation. I am more than glad if this is legitimate. There is simply a need to be fully transparent and accountable when raising funds.

    JH, I am glad that you find the Catholic site impressive. I am still scratching my head.

  5. Fr. J. says:

    Charles, I just looked into MOPS in the Philippines. I could not find such a group. There is the MOP, Missionaries of the Poor–they are religious brothers numbering about 5000 working around the world. Perhaps they are the mystery MOPS beneficiary. I am wondering still how one organization gets 57 million bucks in one year from a single funding source. Is the MOP the MOPS? I will look into it more.

  6. diane says:

    Red Flag Alert seconded!!! MOPS is the acronym for an evangelical group of moms with toddlers (Mothers Of Pre-Schoolers). There may be a Catholic group with the same acronym for all I know. But the only MOPS I’ve ever heard of was the evangelical group.

    I heard about them via the Focus on the Family radio broadcasts more than 10 years ago. They seem like a pretty innocuos group. I mean, I’m sure they’re fine. But they’re definitely not Catholic.

    BTW, Faher J–you are needed at Eirenikon to defend the Catholic view of marriage more accurately, authoritatively, and charitably than I can. :-)

    God bless,

    Diane

  7. diane says:

    Sorry for typos, BTW. Should be “innocuous” and “Father.” I have a very sticky keyboard. (Yes, I know–a poor workperson always blames his or her tools. ;))

  8. Jennifer says:

    Just FYI…

    MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) is a non-denominational Christian support group for mothers of young children. I am a lifelong Catholic and MOPS member; there are indeed Catholic parishes who have MOPS ministries. The MOPS Statement of Faith (their mission statement) is in no way conflicting with our Catholic teachings.

  9. How are the pastors now being paid?

    From love offerings or the tithe?

    People who accept any portion of the tithe are not allowed to own any tangible property, such as a home, real estate.. according to the Bible too

    http://anyonecare.wordpress.com/2008/05/29/the-ttihe/

  10. kingspug says:

    Perhaps my post of a reply was entirely too long… see my reply here, PLEASE!

    http://kingspug.wordpress.com/2011/08/29/4/

  11. kingspug says:

    Yep, think it was because my 3:02am post just posted… Please see my full response at http://kingspug.wordpress.com/2011/08/29/4/
    Basically, I researched it and it panned out. The 50 million donation was from the General Fund, not from any restricted fund, and it went to Missionaries of the Poor – Sisters in the Philippines. Please! see my post for the relevant information. Cross Catholic is a great organization!

  12. Daniel T says:

    I was taking a look at some of the 990’s filed and noticed that around 90% of their income is in the form of non-cash, mainly medical supplies. While the organization spends only a small percentage of total contributions for fundraising and administrative purpose, they are spending most of the cash they bring in for those purposes. There’s no indication who donates the medical supplies, but surely not in parish collections. I’d expect most of the goods donated are put to good use, it just seems as though the cash collections are mainly to pay for fundraising and administrative expenses.

    Considering that the non-cash contributions make up the majority of their support, is much of the fundraising expense related to having those goods donated, or mainly to raise cash. The 2007 990 shows among the top five paid employees is Msgr. Ted Bertagni, who was paid $114,905 salary for 40 hrs.per week ($124k in 2008). Another “preacher” is Fr. Ron Mrozinski, who was paid only $89,145 for his 40 hours. Jim Cavnar was one of three officers paid over $100,000. According to the organization’s website, Msgr. Bertagni “was a Conventual Franciscan in Our Lady of Consolation Province and is presently incardinated into the Diocese of Mandeville Jamaica.” Fr. Ron ” is a priest of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saint Georges in the Caribbean island nation of Grenada.” Jim Cavnar only puts in an additional 4 hours for Cross International and so gets paid less than $14,000 by them.

  13. kingspug says:

    I looked at their 2009 Form 990. It shows 159792173 in contributions. It shows 149155508 paid out as grants, etc (this would appear to be its charitable work), If your worried about where it goes just make a donation for a specific purpose. Their legally required to put it toward that purpose unless it is overfunded

  14. Florentina Ronquillo says:

    I am donating to this cross international catholic outreach every month to one of their project in the philippines.
    When i asked them to provide me with the address of the organization in the philippines who are supposed to be receiving my project
    so I can visit the place to make sure that my donation is reaching a valid organization whose children are disabled, they said that they do not have address or phone number but they can give me their e mail.
    Today, I e mail the organization using the e mail that the director of cross international catholic outreach gave me, but the e mail is invalid.
    I think, this cross international catholic outreach is not a true charitable organization.
    I will not send them donation anymore.
    I just feel sad that this organization takes advantage of people who are kind enough to care and help other disadvantaged people who are really in need of help.

  15. Susan Koogle says:

    Carlos Andrickson III who works at Cross International is from Dominican Republic. He is also actively involved in politics in Dominican Republic, supporting Danilo Medina. During his business trips, expenses covered by Cross International, he spends most of his time on his personal interest in politics.

  16. Patrick Anderson says:

    This IS some serious stuff. I am sure they have their made up excuses, everything planned and covered up.

    That Carlos Andrickson III guy looks like he killing 2 birds with 1 stone. Getting popular in politics with charity money, donations.

    Sincerely,
    A Good Christian

  17. Anonymous says:

    I would recommend a background checkoff these preachers.

  18. J V Vaca says:

    I found your page while researching Cross Catholic Outreach. My family is looking for to replace Catholic Relief Services on our list of charities to support.

    So, to the writer of this post, did you contact any of the bishops listed in their Board of Directors? If you did, how did they respond?

    Did you look at the latest audited financial statements (2011) which clearly show that (page 8) “Cross Catholic Outreach Inc & Cross International Inc … together … for The Cross Internation Alliance”?

    I’m not accepting that anything you’ve posted is wrong or not worthy of further investigation. I’m just asking if you, or any of the commentors to your post, have gone beyond Google, innuendo, and the use of hostile language (“when I confronted them”).

    And for the record … I am not connected in any way with CCO, CI, or its auditors. I am a retired financial executive with experience in auditing and financial research. I am also a cradle Catholic with experience in parish finance council, adult and youth catechesis, and charitable activities (e.g. St Vincent de Paul). I am a third order member of an ancient religious order.

    And by the way, my family stopped supporting Catholic Near East Welfare Association (which you list under “Mass Intentions” on this web page) because of the unreasonable amount it spent on administration-fund raising.

    Finally … just who are YOU? I can’t tell a thing about your identity or credentials in your “About Us” or “Contact Us” pages. If we are going to present analysis–negative or positive–about anyone or any group, decency should compel us to do so with accuracy and charity, especially if we are calling ourselves Catholic Christians.

    • Dear Mr. Vaca, I would love to have you on the general team of Catholic Researchers who fact-check everything! Here is the website I maintain – http://www.johntwo24-25.net. Feel free to contact me on the feedback page. There is much work to be done. My sleeves have only been rolled up for about 4 years, but I’m doing my best with what I have. Blessings.

  19. Lyric says:

    I know this post is old, but felt I should comment. I write marketing materials for both Cross Catholic Outreach (formerly known as Cross International Catholic Outreach) and Cross International. I’m off the clock right now, so this is not a defense.

    First of all, your questions and concerns are understandable and deserve a response, and I think many of those answers have already been provided in the comment thread.

    No, Cross is not a Baptist organization. First, there was simply Cross International, which was interdenominational. Then Cross Catholic was created, with the specific purpose of helping Catholics reach out to Catholic ministries in the third world. We are very up-front about this fact, and many of the CI staff are also involved in CCO. As you can imagine, the type of people who work here are those who believe Catholics and Protestants share a lot of common ground and can work together as brothers. If you do not share that belief, you will probably not be comfortable with our arrangement, The similar names can be confusing, and that is why I was very glad when we decided to change CICO to CCO.

    As for our priests’ accountability, that is not something I am qualified to speak to. I hope they are honest and upright in their work with the parishes, but I cannot personally verify this one way or the other.

    I do wish to clarify one point. Someone mentioned our low administrative costs and how we achieve that number by including the value of goods-in-kind. Yes, this is true that good-in-kind are included. But I don’t want to give the impression that this is somehow underhanded. The goods-in-kind are donations, therefore it is both legal and reasonable to include their value. Thus, if we were to calculate monetary donations alone, the percentage going toward admin costs would be much higher. When you give to a specific project, 10% goes toward the admin costs (this is the estimate of what it costs us to support one project). That is still on the low side as far as charitable admin costs. However, if you give to the general fund, the percentage will likely be larger that 10%.

    Now, I would hope (though I do not know for a fact) that our priests understand and communicate these facts whenever the need arises. If a Cross Catholic representative were to tell a donor that 97% of his or her specific gift goes directly to the overseas ministry, that would be false. But as a percentage of our overall donations, yes it is absolutely true that admin costs are very, very low.

    • Robert says:

      Lyric, why is the CCO address in Boca Raton and the CI address in Pompano Beach?

      • Lyric says:

        CCO is located in Boca because it operates under the oversight of the Diocese of Palm Beach County. However, our larger CI office is based in Pompano for the simple reason (as I understand it) that we were given a really good deal on office space to rent.

  20. Anne says:

    Can someone tell me .Does Cross Catholic Outreach operate from an office in Wilton, New Hampshire?

    • Lyric says:

      We do not have a New Hampshire office. We are based in South Florida. However, there are a number of employees who live in different states. Perhaps one lives in New Hampshire?

      • Vany says:

        And Ive been sending my donation in new hampshire?,,I dont want to think bad in this ministry but seems off to me Ive been donating for a year now.

      • Lyric says:

        Who have you been sending your donation to? If you are giving to our outreach priests when they visit your parish, you have nothing to worry about. All those gifts are sent back to us. If you are mailing your gifts to a New Hampshire address claiming to be our headquarters, then you may have been misled. Unfortunately, I can’t say for certain one way or the other unless you give me more specifics.

  21. Hi! I know this is kinda off topic however I’d figured I’d ask.
    Would you be interested in exchanging links or
    maybe guest authoring a blog post or vice-versa? My site discusses a lot of the same subjects as yours and I think
    we could greatly benefit from each other. If you happen to be interested feel free to shoot me
    an email. I look forward to hearing from you!
    Great blog by the way!

  22. Rosemary Cupp says:

    We had a guest priest (Fr Ron Mrozinski) for our Masses this weekend. We were told and the brochure indicates that less than 6% of donations are used for administrative and fundraising expenses. There was no mention that if goods-in-kind donations were not included, the % of monetary donations going to administrative/fundraising expenses would be significantly higher. The brochure for mailing donations was addressed to Cross Catholic Outreach, PO Box 9558, Wilton, NH 03086-9909 but the Bocca Raton FL address and box # was noted on the inside of the brochure. If accurate, the salaries of the paid staff concerns me. The figures given were for 2007. I have to wonder what the current salaries might be. Trying to keep an open mind but after trying to verify information about the organization I’m left with a sense of unease.

    • Lyric says:

      Yes, Fr. Mrozinski has been with us for a long time. I just now realized that Wilton, NH, must be where the company is based that processes all of our mail. Whenever I’ve donated, it has always been at the office or online, so I never noticed the Wilton address. But I just looked at one of our recent direct-mail pieces, and yes the address on the return envelope is Wilton.

      I apologize for not providing this answer sooner, but as a writer in the communications department, I know more about how we are spending our money on projects overseas than the details of how we process donations here in the U.S.

      • Rosemary Cupp says:

        How/where does one find audited financial statements for 2011 and 2012 for this organization? I was very touched by Fr Mroziinski’s presentaion regarding this ministry but need more information. Just seems like salaries are on the high side.

      • Lyric says:

        You can read our 2011 annual report (which includes audited financials) at http://64.239.71.72/uploads/AnnualReport_CCO_2011.pdf

        I am currently working with our accounting dept. to produce our 2012 annual report, which should be available in a month or so.

        I appreciate your concern about salaries. Obviously when someone is asking you for money, you want to feel confident that it’s being spent wisely. What I can tell you is that, yes, Cross is very good to its employees. I earn an average salary for a college-educated full-time employee, but it comes with an excellent health-care package and other perks (not necessarily quantifiable) that make this one of the best places to work that I’ve ever experienced. I also know that, yes, we have some employees who earn salaries that would be considered on the high end.

        I’m not in a position to judge what is appropriate or inappropriate. However, I think I should mention that there was a study published in the Palm Beach Post last year that found that our president, Jim Cavnar, earned a smaller paycheck relative to revenue than any other nonprofit executive in our local county. Jim is certainly well-compensated, but he’s not some greedy rich guy living the high life. For example, he jokes that he is in a contest for the cheapest car in the office parking lot – and I can attest that it truly is a junker! Granted, the “revenue” that his salary is being compared against includes both money and donated goods (as I explained earlier); and I understand why some donors might be concerned by this, although it is a very legal and very normal practice among U.S. nonprofits.

  23. RB says:

    This is an outdated article that addressed concerns from the 5 years or more when it was authored. However, this article should be deleted and/or updated.
    ******************************************************************************
    In the meantime, since 2008 we’ve all learned what a flawed outfit CRS (Catholic Relief Services ) is. It takes a large chunk of U.S. Govt money (our taxes) and redistributes it to orgs. that are anti-life, pro-abortion and then tries to lie to us Catholics about it. Frankly CRS needs to get out of the Govt redistribution business. More and more Catholics are distancing themselves from CRS.

    In the meantime, CCO(Catholic Cross Outreach, or its name variant) has matured , gives money to Catholic ministries, Catholic orgs, and Catholic workers serving the poorest of the poor in underdeveloped or 3rd world countries. IN addition, CCO* has earned a very good reputation in the Catholic community and should be the Catholic charity of choice over CRS.

    RB– Catholic!

    • Anonymous says:

      RB, you’re making some serious accusations there, and no real evidence to back it up. If you want people to take your post as anything more than just your opinion, post the smoking gun.

  24. RB says:

    Mr Anonymous with no moniker, where have you been hiding yourself. Did you crawl out of a cave?

    I just love it (*not) when someone is not too lazy to type two sentences but then tells the rest of the world(that would be me) to do some work for them. All the things I wrote are common knowledge within the Catholic Blogosphere and can be googled, if you have enough creativity and can handle the google part.

    • a recent recipient of Cross International donation request says:

      RB – why the antagonism? anonymous was asking a valid question with no sarcasm or implied insult. your vitriol is not only surprising and unwarranted, but undermines the credibility of your previous post. This has been a thoughtful and courteous discussion between people who want to responsibly donate and ask the necessary questions of accountability to do so. Helping each other by sharing our sources is not an unreasonable request. Cautioning you to sight your sources is just the habit of an academic mind – not a criticism.

  25. Amazing! Its in fact remarkable post, I have got much clear idea on the topic of from
    this piece of writing.

  26. dick ullrich says:

    lyric makes a lot of excuses to only know a few things about his employer

    • MPDaddy says:

      (Lyric here, posting under a different WordPress name) Excuses? Hardly. I’m just being honest about my limitations. If you’ve ever worked in an office setting that involves multiple departments and multiple executives, you know that you can only specialize in your area of responsibilities…you can’t know the details of absolutely everything that everyone in every other department is doing. I work in marketing, not accounting. I don’t handle our ministry’s donations. I never even see the money. But I do know our projects. I’ve traveled around the world gathering stories in order to show our donors how their funds are being used by our Catholic partners who rely on our support. Most of these partners are local parishes or religious orders.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 94 other followers

%d bloggers like this: