Expanding the Impact: Learn How We’re Opening Our Engagement Programs to More People

Catholic United Financial is a member-owned, not-for profit financial services company, connecting people of faith, protecting their future and generously impacting parishes, schools and communities. We are constantly thinking of ways to spread our missional impact to more communities who could use our help. This year we are extending our programs to even more people in the five states we serve.

The main agents of the “connecting” part of our story is our Giving Network of more than 100 Parish Volunteer Teams (PVTs) and Councils. These are the energetic and enterprising volunteers who take up the Catholic United Financial banner at the local level, conducting the hundreds of engagement activities that bring grants and benefits to Catholic communities across the Upper Midwest.
The most popular program of our Giving Network activity is the Matching Grant which offers a $1,000 matching grant for fundraising dollars raised in support of religious education. Our local PVTs and council officers and volunteers used this program more than 90 times in 2022 and ramped their creativity “up to 11”! The crew of St. Boniface #187 in St. Bonifacius, Minn., held “Bunny Bingo” in March which included the title game plus a raffle for donated prizes and pies, enough hot dogs, popcorn and soda for the 200 volunteers who attended.
A celebration of German heritage was held by the St. Nicholas PVT #98 in Watkins, Minn., in September. “Through music and song, German food and beverages, attendees have the opportunity in a fun, relaxing and outdoor setting, to connect and reconnect with family and friends and meet new people,” wrote PVT Administrative Lead Mary Caskey in the report on the event. “Our PVT feels it’s important for us to provide funds to educate the youth of our parish on our Catholic faith and encourage them to participate in our parish community. As the Faith Formation program grows, it will [provide] opportunities for the adults of our parish to also grow in their faith.” The event raised more than $5,000.
PVTs and councils accessed the benefits of other programs to build faith and connect people to each other. Little Flower PVT #97 in Rugby S.D., used the Grants4Good program to provide a Christmas gift to everyone at their parish. “Each year [we] review and select a book to distribute, free of charge, to all parishioners and guests at Christmas Eve and Christmas day Masses. The book leads to discussion groups in the New Year, and we hope for a greater engagement in Catholic faith identity and practice for all who receive the books.” PVT volunteers handed out copies of “Beautiful Hope: Finding Hope Every Day in a Broken World” devotional books thanks to help from Grants4Good.
PVTs and Councils applied for the Member Assistance Grant program seven times last year; this is a program that provides a matching grant to fundraising efforts in support of a member who is struggling financially due to disaster or illness. Our volunteers helped to bring financial support to members who are struggling with cancer, lost their homes and belongings in house fires, and suffered damage from a tornado.
These are examples of hundreds of activities carried out in our Giving Network. The question that we ask ourselves at the Catholic United Home Office is, “Can we do more?” The answer is yes, and the Member Engagement Department is rolling out a new and easy way for members to bring benefits to their local community.
Kristina Sherrett, Member Engagement Advisor, says programs will now be offered to members who aren’t currently served by a local PVT or council. “We are opening up opportunity to our members and non-members as well.…We can really get into our members’ communities and help with the things that they’re passionate about.”
The main way that members can apply for grants and benefits will be online through a single form. In the past, members had to go down several different paths— either online, in writing or in person—to make grant or program requests. The new online form will consolidate these programs into one place to simplify the process and help the department increase the impact.
“There are so many different ways currently that people request funds from us. We wanted to consolidate that into one easy-to-use form that we can direct everyone to. It will create less confusion for people that want to interact with us this way,” says Nate Lamusga, Director of Member Engagement. “Another reason is we’re a big organization with three entities—our Association, Foundation and Credit Union. Between these three, we all do our own things to support the community and we want to combine our efforts to make the biggest impact.”
Catholic United Financial’s goal is to double our missional impact by 2028, our Sesquicentellial. “Expanding our reach this way will help us do that,” said Lamusga. “It’s also meant to spur people to action to do good things and to multiply what we’re already giving to the community. We only have councils and PVTs in 120 of the parishes across the Upper Midwest, which has more than [2,000] parishes in total. Unless you lived near one of those groups and attended a church that was affiliated with them, you weren’t able to partake in our programs. With this expansion of our reach, now you can.”
Please join us in bringing our missional impact to your community! To learn about these grant programs and how to access them, call (800) 568-6670 or send an email to engage@catholicunited.org.