Diocesan-wide fundraising appeals have declined in recent years, a study conducted by The Pillar concludes.
But the decline is not consistent across dioceses, and some local Churches have seen appeals grow in recent years, even with the Church in the U.S. battered over the last three years both by news that one of its most prominent cardinals was a sexual abuser and by increasing division over doctrinal and political issues.
A special report from The Pillar looks at trends in diocesan annual appeals, and asks what they might signify for the Church’s ongoing fiscal health.
After the the 2018 scandals of Theodore McCarrick and the Pennsylvania grand jury report on clerical sexual abuse, some Catholics began to say publicly they would no longer support diocesan appeals. Those voices grew louder amid discontent over the Church’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. But are frustrated Catholics actually scaling back their financial support for their dioceses? We went to the numbers to find out.
The Pillar examined records of annual appeal collections in 25 geographically and demographically diverse dioceses from 2016 to 2020. We found that on average, the collections of diocesan annual appeals have gone down 4% during the last 4-5 years.
(Some dioceses in our sample set have not yet posted their audited 2020 financials, and others included 2020 but only published financials back to 2017. We did not include any dioceses with fewer than four years of published financials in our study.)
Prominent urban dioceses and archdioceses have seen more dramatic declines in appeal revenue than other parts of the Church in the United States.
The six U.S. archdioceses currently led by cardinals saw an average decrease of 9% in their annual appeals between 2016 and 2020, while dioceses without cardinals were, on average, down 2% during the same period.
Read more at Pillar Catholic