Pierz Catholic school to launch annual fund campaign

Categories: Around the Diocese

By Nikki Rajala
The Visitor

Holy Trinity School in Pierz is undergoing a financial change. For years, it has relied on parish support for 70 percent of its budget.

Those parishes — St. Michael in Buckman, Holy Cross in Harding, St. John in Lastrup and St. Joseph in Pierz — have announced they must reduce their financial contribution in order to meet other obligations.

So the school will launch a Holy Trinity Catholic School Annual Fund campaign in August.

globeLinda Kaiser, diocesan director of Catholic Education Ministries, said Catholic schools have usually depended on three sources of income — parish investment, tuition and fundraising, balanced like a three-legged stool.

“But parish collections on Sundays are not able to keep pace with the costs of education,” she said. “Parishes do not have the income to fund schools like they used to. Nor can increasing the tuition or [traditional methods of] fundraising provide more of those funds.”

Debra Meyer-Myrum, administrator of Holy Trinity School, said, “This [three-legged stool] model of financial stability puts most of the ‘eggs in one basket’ and limits the abilities of the school to be progressive as an educational institution.”

The school needed something different.

Holy Trinity, Meyer-Myrum said, with 190 students pre-K through sixth grade, would be better able to carry out its mission and strategic plan if its financial foundation were supported more equally with monies from tuition, parish investment, fundraising — and philanthropic activities, like an annual fund.

“Tuition has had relatively small increases over the last number of years,” Meyer-Myrum said, “but will increase for the coming year by approximately 25 percent. Tuition should be a major revenue source, but can’t be the sole source or enrollment will be negatively impacted.”

Kaiser noted that it is not unusual for schools to seek additional sources of income.

“Catholic education is changing, and it is harder and harder for a parish to sustain all the educational programs,” Kaiser said. “Adding another leg of support — like an annual appeal that goes outside the school’s borders — can help offset the costs.

“While the school’s alumni who live far away might not be able to come to a fundraiser, they would be interested in continuing — for others — the benefit of their Catholic education through an annual appeal.”

Using print and online sources to connect to potential contributors, Holy Trinity’s first-ever annual fund campaign seeks to raise an average of $200,000 a year for the next five years. Those who contribute may direct their donations toward the operating budget for staffing, curriculum, building, scholarships or endowment.

Their intention is to use the contributed monies generated from the new annual fund campaign for general operations. The school hopes the campaign will be successful enough to put some aside for the future and build a reserve fund.

The campaign came about as a result of a strategic planning effort by Holy Trinity’s school leaders and volunteers. An Advancement Committee was formed to develop long-term plans to deal with the reduction of parish contributions and to ensure financial stability through other funding sources.

Holy Trinity’s school board includes both Father Kenneth Popp, who is the appointed pastor over the school, and Father David Maciej, who oversees the Father Pierz School of Religion. The board created the Advancement Committee, which has been meeting for about a year, working on fundraising and redefining the approach.

Beyond bake sales

Deb Gruber, a parishioner of St. Joseph, is one of about eight people who serve on the Advancement Committee.

“We need to go beyond the world of bake sales, the school carnival, the steak and wine dinner. Those are important and will continue,” Gruber said. “But an additional approach was added to meet our needs.

“The committee is looking at the world of philanthropy, looking to appeal to people with the same philosophy and goals — that Catholic faith is important and the development of well-educated parish members is vital to the future of the Catholic Church. We need to seek those who can provide larger ongoing, sustainable revenue sources.”

Deb and her husband Jason are parents of two sons — Simon, who graduated from Holy Trinity in 2014, and Louis, who will start sixth grade in the fall.

“My husband is a product of primary Catholic school education along with his seven brothers and sisters,” Gruber said. “What the schools have done in developing their faith is what I want for our children, and our children’s children also.

“Holy Trinity School is not in crisis,” she continued, “but through the strategic planning effort, we all agreed — we don’t want to get there. We’re being proactive, and want to balance the budget appropriately and responsibly.”

Meyer-Myrum agreed.

“My hope for our Holy Trinity Catholic School Annual Fund campaign is to raise the consciousness of our past alumni and parishioners on the value of Catholic education. Catholic schools have been a strong part of the fabric of our communities for more than 100 years. We hope people will step forward with ideas, contributions, volunteering and prayer.

“This can ensure that Holy Trinity will be there in the future.”

To contact Meyer-Myrum, call Holy Trinity School at 320-468-6446.