New charitable foundation will assist Philadelphia Archdiocese

Richard T. Clark
Richard T. Clark
Posted: September 25, 2013

In a significant break from custom, a new foundation has been formed to manage charitable fund-raising for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, a move designed to reengage disaffected Catholics and boost giving.

The Catholic Foundation of Greater Philadelphia made the announcement Tuesday. It  follows the formula used last year in turning over management of archdiocesan high schools to the Faith in the Future Foundation. It gives lay leaders more say over church functions that have long been kept under tight control by the hierarchy.

"The laity now have an opportunity in our foundation to sit side by side with the archbishop and determine the charitable future of the archdiocese," said Shannon Jordan, executive director of the foundation.

Experts applauded the archdiocese's adoption of modern fund-raising structures, such as donor-advised funds.

"Philadelphia has always been among the more - however you want to put it - conventional, hierarchical archdioceses. This is a fairly radical break with that," said John J. DiIulio Jr., a professor of politics, religion, and civil society at the University of Pennsylvania.

"We've got a much broader base of talent and of energy and of passion and of faithful commitment than is housed in the formal church hierarchy or bureaucracy," DiIulio said.

The foundation initially will be overseen by a 14-member board with a mix of executives from the for-profit and not-for-profit worlds. The number of trustees is expected to increase. It includes Archbishop Charles J. Chaput and Msgr. Francis Beach, a longtime archdiocesan official on special assignment to the foundation, which is paying his salary.

Chairman of the board is Richard T. Clark, a retired chairman and chief executive of Merck & Co. Clark lives in Bucks County and attends Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Buckingham Township.

The Catholic Foundation, a tax-exempt organization, is a hybrid. Its purpose is not to fill the huge financial gaps at the archdiocese, but to expand support for Catholic causes.

One side of its operations will provide services for annual archdiocesan fund-raisers, such as the Catholic Charities Appeal and the Annual Seminary Appeal, that used to be handled by the archdiocese's Office for Stewardship and Development. Those services will also be available to parishes and other groups.

Another side will operate a charitable endowment similar to the Vanguard Group's charitable endowment program, which has $3.5 billion under management and distributes money according to the donors' wishes.

The Catholic Foundation will accept donations with the goal of building a new endowment to support Catholic causes, separate from existing trusts at the archdiocese.

At least two-thirds of the money in the Catholic Foundation will be restricted to beneficiaries in the five-county region, Jordan said, though exceptions can be made with board approval.

Clark described the foundation as one-stop shopping for donors who might receive requests on a weekly or monthly basis from Catholic causes. Donors will be able to let the foundation manage and distribute the money according to priorities set by the donors.

"I think it's going to be very attractive to them," said Clark, who said he was impressed by the track record of similar foundations at 15 dioceses around the country.

For the less well-off, a donor-advised fund can be started with $5,000, but must reach $10,000 within three years before charitable distributions would begin, said Jordan.

Peter A. Rohr, a Center City money manager who oversees $2 billion through Merrill Lynch, will manage foundation assets.

Chuck Zech, a church finance expert at Villanova University, said the independent fund-raising strategy could even be popular with non-Catholics.

"A lot of folks who have never given a dime to the church in the form of the Catholic Charities annual appeal or the seminary appeal will find this approach to be very appealing," Zech said.

Clark, 67, has been active in his parish, but this is his first major archdiocese-wide effort.

"The church needs us now, and this is part of my legacy, to make sure that future generations of Catholics are secure and the people who need help get the help they need and the resources they need," Clark said.



Foundation Trustees

Msgr. Francis W. Beach

Chairman of the advancement committee, Catholic Foundation of Greater Philadelphia

Thomas A. Bruder Jr.

Former president and owner, M.A. Bruder & Sons Inc.

Tammy Carter-Tenaglia

Director of member services, Preferential Care Network Inc.

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput

Archbishop of Philadelphia

Daniel J. Hilferty

President and CEO, Independence Blue Cross

Gary M. Holloway Sr.

President and CEO, GMH Communities Associates

Bernard J. Kelley

Former president, Merck Manufacturing Division

Susan Y. Kim

Vice chairman, Philadelphia Orchestra Organization

John J. Mullen

Former president and CEO, Apple Vacations

Judith M. Persichilli

Interim president and CEO, CHE Trinity Health

The Rev. Nicholas S. Rashford

President emeritus, St. Joseph's University

John Springrose

Former managing director, 1838 Investment Advisors

Alexander Vaccaro

Vice chairman of the department of orthopedics, Rothman Institute

David N. Watson

Executive vice president and COO, Comcast Cable

comments powered by Disqus