The sixth annual #iGiveCatholic Giving Day, a virtual crowdfunding event that benefits more than 1,700 participating parishes, schools and nonprofit ministries, will be held this year on Dec. 1, which is Giving Tuesday.
Since its inception, #iGiveCatholic has raised almost $20 million in charitable online donations and connected Church-affiliated organizations and agencies with new donors by using technology and harnessing social media to foster collaboration.
“People have come to embrace #iGiveCatholic across the country,” said Cory J. Howat, the president of the New Orleans-based iGiveCatholic initiative, who added that his team was “gearing up super fast” in the weeks leading up to Giving Tuesday.
“We’re really starting to hit our stride. The Holy Spirit has really taken hold, and exploded this movement across the country,” Hallet told Our Sunday Visitor, which is a national sponsor of #iGiveCatholic.
In 2019, #iGiveCatholic raised more than $7.4 million from more than 29,530 donors in 50 states and 10 countries to support parishes, schools and nonprofit ministries across the United States.
This year, organizations under the umbrella of 40 Catholic dioceses will be participating. The National Catholic Education Association has also been partnering with #iGiveCatholic in encouraging schools to participate.
“It’s really neat to have each little ministry and parish school participate, and in joining Catholics across the country to celebrate that giving,” Howat said. “And that’s all through technology. What a grace, what a gift!”
On Dec. 1, Catholics, and anyone else for that matter, can participate in #iGiveCatholic by visiting the website igivecatholic.org, and making a minimum $25 online donation to their favorite parish, school or nonprofit ministry. Howat said his parents used the platform to donate to the church where they were married.
“It was a great connection because now the church has contact with them through this great social media connection, and can build relationships with people who have a sacramental or spiritual connection to that ministry, which otherwise would never have had their address to be able to reach them,” Howat said.
A two-week “Advance Giving Day” phase began on Nov. 16, and was set to run through just before midnight on Dec. 1. In the first five days of advanced giving, Howat said #iGiveCatholic had already received more online donations than all two weeks of last year’s advanced giving.
“We’re seemingly on a trajectory to do more this year,” Howat said, “But we’ll leave it to the Holy Spirit on Giving Tuesday to find out how we do.”
Giving Tuesday, often stylized as #GivingTuesday in so-called hashtag activism, refers to the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. Started by the 92nd Street Y in New York City and the United Nations Foundation in 2012 as a response to increasing consumerism in the days after Thanksgiving, people across the world have since seized on Giving Tuesday as an opportunity to build up their communities and foster global solidarity.
“With Giving Tuesday, we saw a unique way to be able to hold hands with something secular in our world that promotes some of the very same values that we hold, which is this deep call to be generous, almost a generosity movement if you will,” said Howat, who saw an opportunity for the Church, as it has done throughout its history, to baptize something secular and enrich it.
“We thought, ‘Why can’t we claim this space as a day of Catholic giving, as something for Catholics to do and celebrate the impact we have in all of our communities across the country,” Howat said.
Bishop Gregory M. Aymond of New Orleans, Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Washington and Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz of Jackson, Mississippi, are the directors of #iGiveCatholic. Howat credited them for spearheading the creation of the initiative and charting its course. Howat said the support of the OSV Institute was also critical.
“The OSV Institute has seen this as a creative model to fill a void in the Church that wasn’t there before,” Howat said. “And once they launched this, pushed us off the dock, it’s been amazingly grace-filled. It’s just crazy to think about all the growth that has happened since.”
While the novel coronavirus has presented various challenges this year, Howat said the #iGiveCatholic team “flipped the switch” and activated the online platform when the pandemic swept through the country in mid-March. That enabled the participating ministries, parishes and schools to accept online contributions during a time when they were closed and cut off from normal Sunday collections and fundraising.
“We called it #iGiveCatholic Together, and it really helped to reframe this idea of what we can do and how technology can really change the way we adapt while helping us to reach the very parishioners who want to support us and be a part of the mission,” Howat said.
Howat also sees #iGiveCatholic as an opportunity for Catholics the world over to celebrate and take pride in the Church’s myriad activities that serve the poor and needy, educate children and minister to God’s people.
“The Church hasn’t told our story enough,” Howat said. “That’s a beautiful part of what this does. It allows for this great mouthpiece to tell the great impact and the beautiful story of the Church of Jesus Christ, and at the same time it invites others to join in that mission with their generosity.”
For more information, visit www.iGiveCatholic.org.
Brian Fraga is a contributing editor for Our Sunday Visitor.