Diocese of Orlando
The Diocese of Orlando conducted a Synod to cast a vision for its future in 2007. To help fund that vision, an historic capital was launched under the leadership of then Bishop Wenski, guided by the board and staff of the newly formed Catholic Foundation of Central Florida.
Greater Mission was hired to assist the President and the Board of the Foundation in the design and launch of the campaign with a goal set at $150 million to fund priority parish projects, assist Catholic schools, renovate St. James Cathedral, enhance San Pedro retreat center, support Catholic Charities of Central Florida, assist Catholic Campus Ministry, and build a series of endowment funds, including Clergy and Leaders Formation. The campaign was given the name Alive in Christ, drawn from the Synod.
Goals for diocesan capital campaigns are frequently set in a range equal to approximately the total offertory income of a diocese. The goal for the Alive in Christ campaign was set at $150 million – nearly three times that amount. The relative size of the goal and the design of the campaign were unprecedented in the history of the Catholic Church.
To make matters even more challenging, the timing for the campaign could not have been worse as the great crash of 2008 crippled the entire US and world financial system, threatening to bring a complete collapse. Central Florida was one of the US markets hit very hard, particularly due to over-escalated real estate and the booming construction industry that led to much of its financial success over the previous decades.
A decision was made to go forward with the campaign, inviting decisions of faith from the people of God throughout the 90 parishes and missions of the Diocese of Orlando. The campaign design incorporated a great deal of innovative practice, including high level major gift development, strong participation strategies, the development of youth involvement, and a campaign staffing model comprised almost exclusively of direct staff hired by the Foundation.
Remarkably, the Alive in Christ campaign achieved its goal in 2012, exceeding $152 million in funds raised. More than 36,000 pledges and single gifts were received. The campaign was led by a pledge of more than $8 million and a total of 17 pledges of $1 million or higher were made. There were 103 pledges of $100,000 or more and many sacrificial gifts at every level. The tireless leadership of now Archbishop Wenski who was called to lead the Archdiocese of Miami, his successor Bishop John Noonan, the pastors, parish staff, thousands of lay leaders, the Foundation Board of Directors and the Foundation staff deserve tremendous credit for helping the Diocese of Orlando fulfill great promise in carrying on its sacred mission.
The campaign and internal staffing structure were designed to serve as a springboard to ongoing mission advancement efforts throughout the diocese. Today, the Catholic Foundation of Central Florida is carrying on a dynamic annual diocesan appeal, major and legacy gift efforts, parish capital campaigns and is launching the With All Your Heart model in partnership with Greater Mission to continue its extraordinary service to its parishes.