Volunteer Ministry Broadens Funding Methods

Rebecca Doel Around the Province

PHILADELPHIA — Faced with the same economic challenges the rest of the country has been experiencing, the Franciscan Volunteer Ministry and its board of directors enlisted the help of experienced financial and development professionals to serve on a newly-developed associate board.

The board will help FVM plan ways to remain financially stable, as this year it needed to raise support for one third of its operation costs.

“For our first 20 years of ministry,” said FVM director Katie Sullivan, “we were blessed with financial support from the Benevolence Trust of Holy Name Province. But, the friars have not been immune to the economic challenges in our country and the world.”

Sullivan said the FVM is already positioned well since, as a 501(c)3 non-profit, “every donation is, in fact, 100 percent tax-deductible.”

Fundraising Efforts
One major effort of the associate board included an event to train members of the FVM family (current FVMs, alumni, friars and staff) called Survive & Thrive! The half-day event, coordinated by Mark Sinclair and Lori Springer, was held April 10 at St. Francis House in Camden, N.J., and began with Mass. Sinclair is a volunteer of St. Francis Inn with wife Thea, and Springer is the development coordinator for St. Anthony of Padua Church in Camden.

The 16 Survive & Thrive! participants represented alums spanning 19 of the ministry’s 21 years of service, current volunteers, a friar site supervisor and a spouse who “married into the FVM family,” Sullivan said.

“Mark and Lori provided an overview of fundraising basics. They made the program understandable, fun and attainable. They also allowed for time to share personal stories in small groups,” she said. “We learned to use our stories as a way of inviting others to share in the unique, life-giving and faith-building mission that is FVM.”

Sullivan added, “The energy and intellect of our FVM family was tapped and creativity and enthusiasm sparked. It was the first day of its kind and is already producing fruit.”

The FVM website is now equipped to accept online donations. According to the Franciscan Volunteer Ministry Facebook page, Patrick McCarthy, St. Bonaventure University graduate and friend of FVM, helped add this feature to the site. According to the Facebook post, “Every dollar we raise up to $12,000 through June will be matched by a generous donor!”

Applications for 2010-2011
In addition to fundraising efforts, Sullivan has been spending time reviewing applications for the 2010-2011 year of volunteers.

“This time of year is always a mix of emotions,” she said. “We are wrapping up our time with our current FVMs and preparing for next year’s community.”

She said this year’s applicants hail from a variety of schools including Duke University, Eastern Illinois University, Lafayette College, Mount St. Mary’s in Maryland, Ohio State University, St. Anselm College in New Hampshire, St. Bonaventure University, the University of Notre Dame and Valparaiso University.

For the interview process, ideally, applicants travel to the East Coast to interview in person and “have a lived experience of our communities, prayer and ministries,” Sullivan said.

Several current volunteers are considering a second year with the program as well, she said.

— Rebecca Doel is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.