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 August 20, 2012   •   VOL. 50, NO. 14   •   Oakland, CA
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The Diocese of Oakland is launching a major effort to consolidate and coordinate fundraising.

The effort will create an office of "mission advancement" and entail a nationwide search for an executive director, establishing an organization and integrating fundraising efforts with stewardship, the concept of using wisely what God has given us.

"We have suspected for some time that our development efforts lack coordination," Rev. George Mockel, moderator of the curia, said. "The two studies we have done based on interviews with representatives of the leadership of the diocese confirmed our suspicion."

This is a major effort to do development in the right way, with a commitment to the theology of stewardship, said Mike Brown, diocesan communications director.

Stewardship recognizes that all we have and all we are, are a gift on loan to us from God, Father Mockel explained. "Just as the parable of the good steward teaches us, God gives us the many gifts of time, talent and treasure and expects that we use them not just for our own benefit, but that we enhance and increase them and then share them gratefully and sacrificially with the church and others."

Jim Caldarola vice president at Guidance in Giving Inc., the consulting firm hired by the diocese to evaluate its fundraising and offer suggestions, said the evaluation indicates the people of the diocese will be better served by merging into "one holistic program" stewardship, development and fundraising as suggested by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. For two years, Guidance in Giving has also consulted on the annual Bishop's Appeal.

The fundraising efforts of Catholic Charities of the East Bay will remain separate. Unlike other diocesan operations, which appeal mainly to the Catholic faithful, CCEB raises funds from non-Catholic entities as well, though there may be areas where CCEB and the diocese can collaborate on fundraising.

Better coordination might eliminate two entities' major fundraising efforts taking place at the same time. All of this development fundraising is separate from parish collections and administration.

The Guidance in Giving study has given the diocese a roadmap, Father Mockel said.

"We will soon begin a national search for a director of mission advancement. Sometime later this year we hope to have that position filled.

"Once that person gets their 'feet on the ground' we will begin the process of bringing most of our development efforts under a single umbrella."

The diocese has retained the executive search firm Gonser Gerber Tinker Stuhr LLP of Naperville, Illinois, to find an executive director.

The diocese raised almost $6 million last year between the Bishop's Appeal, schools and other development efforts. But research from the International Catholic Stewardship Council finds that low compared to other comparable dioceses.

Moreover, the study found that dioceses of a similar size to Oakland operate with about six full-time development staff members; there are 12 positions in Oakland. Oakland spends about 26 cents of each dollar raised on development costs; Guidance in Giving estimates it should be spending 15 cents per dollar raised.

While every one of the nation's 175 dioceses is unique, with its own culture, population, history, there are some quantitative methods for evaluation, Caldarola said.

In some ways, Oakland can compare to dioceses like Providence, Rhode Island or Sacramento.

In many cases, the diocese has been underperforming. Oakland's Bishop's Appeal raises $2 million annually; comparable dioceses' appeals might raise four times that.

"We think there's potential," Caldarola said, once the structure is set in place.

Diocesan operations include ongoing financial obligations for education, funding seismic retrofitting, vocations, etc. The diocese also has debt that must be restructured, and capital needs for new construction.

"It is important to understand that while reorganizing our development efforts positions us well for a possible capital campaign, no decision has been made about whether to do one or not," Father Mockel said.

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