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Remembering the Church in Your Planned Giving with Renée Underwood

By December 1, 2022October 4th, 2023podcast, Steier Tips

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In the Gospel, Jesus fed 5,000 with only five loaves and two fish. After the crowd was satisfied, there were 12 wicker baskets left over. God provides the abundance. In each episode of this podcast, we will explore, with pastoral leaders and development professionals, all the many ways God meets the spiritual and temporal needs of our parish communities, our Catholic schools and the diocesan church. And not only meets those needs but provides in abundance.

The ninth episode of the podcast is Remembering the Church in your Planned Giving with Renée Underwood.

Renée Underwood has often asked, “After you’re gone, who will replace your giving to the church?” She’s quick to provide the answer: “You will!” In this episode, Renée shares her perspective of faith in engaging donors about remembering the Church in their estate plans. She understands these encounters with donors to be a graced and spiritual moment in which the fundraiser must listen to donors’ stories and appreciate the movement of God in the donor’s life. The human person is made for eternity; a planned gift is a way to serve the Church temporally as we praise God forever in the Church triumphant. Renée’s background as a spiritual director has helped her listen attentively to donors and to help them discern how best to apply their planned giving. The great thing about leaving a planned gift to a diocese, she noted, is that there are so many ministries and areas of the Church that will speak to a variety of donors’ interests.

She notes that planned giving in the Church is very fertile ground. So many Catholics are bombarded by universities and other good causes for planned gifts but the Church rarely asks. That’s changed in the Diocese of Fort Worth where the bishop has begun a diocesan day of stewardship, has implemented stewardship education and formation for seminarians and the presbyterate, and has inaugurated a Light of Christ award for laity in every parish who demonstrate in their daily lives a stewardship walk of faith. Inviting the faithful to remember the Church in their estate planning isn’t something done once; it requires repetition through multiple channels of communication. Ultimately, Renée noted, people love being a part of the decision-making in how their gifts will be used for generations to come. Planned giving can also be a part of capital campaigns to encourage a gift for immediate needs and an endowed gift to support the projects for the long term. Regardless, every instrument used by a diocese for the faithful to give ought to have an option for planned giving. Nine times out of ten, people who make a planned gift considered it because of something they saw at the parish level. It’s important to keep the invitation going.

She stressed that everyone in the Church needs to understand the importance of planned giving in the work of the Church today, from the individual Catholic faithful, to parish staff, to pastors. While annuities or donor advised funds are ways people can give, the diocese or parishes don’t need to be experts. Donors will have their advisors and the diocese may even have Catholic tax lawyers or financial planner to recommend. In the end, each person’s situation is unique and that’s why these gifts take a long time to put together. “You’re in the presence of God when you’re doing it. You’re doing it for the right reasons and everything will be just fine.”

Guest: Renée Underwood
Title: Chief Development Officer, Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth Advancement Foundation

Previous episode: Mission Advancement for Burgeoning Diocese with Ashley Linville

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