Jeff Jaworski, Partner and Investment Manager at Triune, serves on CEF's Board of Directors.
Several years ago I read a short book that a friend gave me called "Not Your Parent's Offering Plate." I was at a point in life where our family and business were blessed with some margin and I found myself regularly being asked to give to more and more organizations. They were great organizations doing great work and many of them were even ministries within the Catholic Church.
What I found most fascinating in the book was the fact that total giving in general hadn't necessarily gone down over the years but what I found troubling was the fact that the percentage of total giving that goes to the church and its ministries has fallen dramatically relative to other organizations that raise money for support. For example, alumni associations, the local hospital, the arts, and research associations to name just a few have seen dramatic increases in the support they've been able to raise. Obviously all worthy and important causes but what the book went on to unpack were the reasons that people gave more money to these and in many cases less to their church.
You can probably guess the most obvious reason people said they gave to a particular organization......BECAUSE THEY ASKED ME TO. But clearly there had to be more to it than that because we all know that a lot of organizations ask! So the book went further. People give, when asked, for three reasons:
- They believe that their contribution is actually going to have a direct impact on something important and in most cases they can measure what the impact is.
- They believed in the leadership of the organization and the ability to successfully carry out a mission.
- They believed that the organization is fiscally responsible (in other words that their money wasn't going to be wasted).
In 26 years of being in the professional world and having sat on multiple boards, I can say with complete conviction that the reason I joined the CEF Board was because I witnessed these three things first hand:
- $939 is the average CEF scholarship for the 2015-16 school year and 1,402 kids are able to attend Catholic schools as a result of the money CEF has raised. Most importantly 98.7% of CEF supported students graduate from high school versus 70% of their peers! It can't get much simpler or profound than that, can it?
- The organization has been blessed to have been lead and supported by our Archbishops since day one but it goes beyond that. The organization’s day-to-day operations has been led by an amazing staff. They've had multiple successes in the business world and have been gracious enough to share that God given talent with CEF.
- We've all heard the saying: "If you're not growing....you're dying." The CEF Boards 30+ members see their role as a stewardship, with accountability measured in growing scholarship numbers each year. The more careful the finances are managed...the more kids can attend Catholic school. It's that simple.
The next time you're making a giving decision....consider the three reasons above and if you haven't supported CEF to this point....will you?