Bequests are Furthering our Church’s Mission

September 18, 2009

Planned Giving, The Pilot

By Richard Ely

If you are on a parish finance council, development committee or stewardship council, or serve on the parish’s administrative staff, you have probably thought about promoting charitable bequests among your parishioners.  But you have also probably wondered if it is really worth the effort.  Based on recent research in the Archdiocese of Boston, it is clear that bequests are helping to further our Church’s mission.

Recently, we reviewed bequests given to Archdiocesan entities from January through August of 2009.  Some facts that have emerged from this preliminary bequest review:

  • Parishes received over $4.4 million. Over 80 parishes received bequests; some just one, but several parishes received multiple bequests.  The largest amount one parish received was almost $450,000.  The smallest amount received by a parish was $1,012 (along with a gold and ivory chalice). 
  • Schools received about $650,000.
  • Archdiocesan central ministries received about $1.7 million.
  • The average bequest was almost $36,000.

We have heard stories from pastors about how a bequest from a loyal parishioner played a key role in eliminating a parish’s debt or allowing it to undertake a project it simply couldn’t afford.  Please consider The Catholic Foundation’s Guide for “Promoting Planned Gifts in Parishes” for ideas of how to get started. 

Richard Ely is Director of Stewardship & Gift Planning at The Catholic Foundation.  For more information about Planned Giving, please visit or contact Richard at 617-779-3702 or

This article originally appeared in a special “Parish Stewardship & Fundraising” section of The Pilot on September 18, 2009

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