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Unleashing Catholic Generosity. Dr. Brian Starks Associate Professor of Sociology Kennesaw State University.

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Presentation on theme: "Unleashing Catholic Generosity. Dr. Brian Starks Associate Professor of Sociology Kennesaw State University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Unleashing Catholic Generosity

2 Dr. Brian Starks Associate Professor of Sociology Kennesaw State University

3 Opening Joke Photo by Br3nda Via FLICKR

4 The ultimate goal of the Christian life is communion with God, not power, riches, and influence (National Directory for Catechesis, p. 15) Our generous God calls us to be generous

5 Hopes and Fears What fears do you have when it comes to discussing money in the Church? What do you hope to get out of today’s presentation?

6 Unleashing Catholic Generosity Explaining the Catholic Giving Gap in the U.S. Science of Generosity Survey 2010 national survey of 1,997 U.S. adults, 422 of whom are Catholic Asks detailed questions about giving behaviors Asks about potential factors shaping voluntary financial giving

7 The Catholic Giving Gap American Catholics less likely to give ten percent or more of their income as voluntary contributions Only about 1 in 5 Catholics report donating to exclusively religious organizations A full 40% of surveyed Catholics failed to donate to any charitable causes, religious or otherwise, in the previous year.

8 How do Catholics Compare to Others?

9 Dismissing Economic Explanations for The Catholic Giving Gap Not the economic downturn Need to be cautious in interpreting the low overall level of giving …But Catholics were not disproportionately effected by the recession. Not due to Catholics’ having lower socio-economic status Historically, Catholic immigrants possessed comparatively fewer economic resources …But, as a whole, Catholics are no longer economically disadvantaged.

10 Another Rejected Explanation : Church Attendance People who attend more give more; that’s true for both Protestants and Catholics, but the ‘giving gap’ between Protestants and Catholics actually rises with attendance.

11 Financial Giving Increases With Attendance

12 An Alternative Religious Factor Spiritual Engagement with Money “Part of my spiritual life involves using my money and material possessions faithfully to please God” “I believe that all of my money ultimately belongs to God, not to me.” “Money and material possessions don’t have much to do with spiritual or religious issues.” (reverse-coded)

13 Comparing Views on Money and the Spiritual Life

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15 Spiritual Engagement with Money

16 Compassion/Empathy

17 Materialistic Values

18 What reduces the Catholic Giving Gap?

19 Parish Cultures: How is money discussed in your parish? What explains the lack of connection between money and the spiritual life of Catholics? What is (or is not) being said and done at the parish level? “Paying the bills” vs. “Living the Mission”

20 Paying the Bills Focus on budgetary items identified by need or scarcity Tends to separate discussions of money from the spiritual mission of the Church. Priests may avoid the subject of money entirely or seek financial legitimacy through business language or models

21 Living the Mission Asks parishioners to fund the mission and vision in which they are spiritually invested Opens people’s eyes to opportunities for spiritual growth and world transformation Requires leaders to communicate the vision and mission of the parish Is associated with a more participatory culture

22 How is money discussed in your parish? When your religious congregation talks about giving money, does it tend to talk about People’s responsibility to help pay the congregation’s bills Or Opportunities for spiritual growth and vision for the religious congregation’s mission

23 Catholics are more focused on “Paying the Bills”

24 How is money discussed in your parish? When your religious congregation communicates to its people about money and finances, does the message tend to be More about need and scarcity Or More about vision and opportunity

25 Again, Catholics are more focused on “Paying the Bills”

26 More Measures of “Paying the Bills” vs “Living the Mission” My religious congregation does an excellent job at communicating its overall mission and priorities to the congregation. My religious congregation does an excellent job at communicating about its financial goals, priorities, and budget to the congregation. I personally feel part of the planning of the vision and mission of my religious congregation. I feel a lot of personal “ownership” of the process of developing the priorities, vision, and mission of my religious congregation.

27 Catholics Differ from Evangelical and Mainline Protestants

28 Table 2: Percentages who report donating to religion in the previous 12 Months When your religious congregation talks about giving money, does it tend to talk about: People’s responsibility to help pay the congregation’s bills Opportunities for spiritual growth and vision for the religious congregation’s mission 33.7%42.1% When your religious congregation communicates to its people about money and finances, does the message tend to be More about need and ScarcityDoes not talk about money More about vision and opportunity 37.9%27.4%46.3% My religious congregation does an excellent job at communicating about its financial goals, priorities, and budget to the congregation. Strongly Agree Mostly Agree Slightly AgreeNeutral Slightly Disagree Mostly Disagree Strongly Disagree 53.2%39.5%41.7%21.0%46.6%60.3%0.0% My religious congregation does an excellent job at communicating its overall mission and priorities to the congregation. Strongly Agree Mostly Agree Slightly AgreeNeutral Slightly Disagree Mostly Disagree Strongly Disagree 53.5%44.9%23.1%14.6%36.1%48.7%11.4% I personally feel part of the planning of the vision and mission of my religious congregation. Strongly Agree Mostly Agree Slightly AgreeNeutral Slightly Disagree Mostly Disagree Strongly Disagree 61.2%46.7%44.3%25.1%34.5%28.8%29.3% I feel a lot of personal “ownership” of the process of developing the priorities, vision, and mission of my religious congregation. Strongly Agree Mostly Agree Slightly AgreeNeutral Slightly Disagree Mostly Disagree Strongly Disagree 59.1%54.2%40.0%30.8%33.9%41.7%26.4%

29 Parish Cultures and The Catholic Giving Gap Partly a result of congregational culture A focus on “paying the bills” fails to engage people and it fails to impart a belief that proper stewardship of money is a deeply spiritual matter

30 A Sample Scenario The Parish School is running a 100k deficit. Previously, a commitment had been made by the parish to provide tuition assistance for all parishioners, and there was a clear sense that the parish viewed the school as important. A growing portion of the students are not members of the parish (and some are not even Catholic). How do we respond as Parish Leaders?

31 Creating Mission-Driven Support Can’t act the same and expect higher giving To raise more = engage more People are motivated by mission and vision, not by maintenance and mundane People invest in the mission, especially when they can see the vision and feel they are part of it

32 Mission Budget vs. Maintenance Budget What can be vs. what is wrong Helping people vs. scarcity of resources Investing in lives vs. paying for programs Investments vs. costs Stewards vs. spenders Investment lines vs. cost lines Worship space vs. buildings Mission development vs. fund raising

33 Contact Information If you have additional questions, you can me:

34 Thank You!


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