BRAINTREE -- Fresh off a successful pilot phase, the Archdiocese of Boston is moving towards additional implementation of a new way for parishes to financially support its central ministries.
The archdiocese recently concluded the first phase of the Improved Financial Relationship Model (IFRM) with 33 volunteer parishes and will now begin the second phase of implementation with 40 additional parishes using this new method.
Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia Father Richard Erikson said the new model resulted in a "more positive, fruitful relationship" between the archdiocese and the parishes, a simpler fundraising strategy, and relieving the parishes of the "burden of multiple fees and abatements."
He also said that the first phase of the financial model resulted in "greater unity, greater trust and greater simplicity," and that he hopes that carries into the second phase.
While Phase I was more of a pilot phase, Father Erikson said, the second phase represents additional implementation.
"Phase I was really a time of testing and also a time to work out any concerns in the model," he said. "Phase II is really moving towards full implementation."
Phase I parishes realized increased offertory and grand annual incomes, as well as increased rebates for exceeding their Catholic Appeal assessment, according to the archdiocese.
On average, Phase I parishes saw their weekly offertories increase 15 percent and their grand annuals increase 10 percent. Thirty parishes ran increased offertory campaigns.
Parishes also saw better cash flow as a result of absorbing the monthly tithe payments into their budgets.
Regarding the Catholic Appeal, 19 Phase I parishes increased their pledge amount from the year prior to the launch, and 25 of the 33 Phase I parishes exceeded their assessment. Prior to Phase I, only 20 of those parishes received rebates.
The archdiocese returned a total of $336,000 to parishes which exceeded their Appeal goal, a 205 percent increase from prior to their participation in the IFRM pilot.
Parish support for central ministries increased two percent as a percentage of base revenue.
Under the new system, parishes would contribute 10 percent of their total offertory, grand annual, and rental income, as well their Catholic Appeal assessment to support archdiocesan central ministries. This replaces the numerous fees that were part of the old model. The Catholic Appeal assessment, under the new plan, represents 8 percent of a parish's base revenue.
If a parish exceeds their appeal assessment, the new model rebates 50 percent of the excess back to the parish, up from 25 percent under the old plan. The new model also grants abatements in certain circumstances to parishes that do not meet their Catholic Appeal goal.
Payments are made to the archdiocese in monthly installments.
Parishes with schools would be exempt under the new plan from the portion of the tithe that supports schools.
The archdiocese is also providing fundraising assistance to parishes as part of the endeavor.
Father Erikson called the model a "win-win" for the archdiocese and the parishes.
"It's really a beneficial model for the archdiocese and the Church as a whole," he said. "It does promote a sense of the Church and we're all in this together."
Director of Parish Financial Services Denise McKinnon-Biernat and Tricia Fraser, of the parish financial services department, discussed how the new model works with current and future pastoral planning efforts of the archdiocese.
"Our mission is now tied to the mission of the parishes," McKinnon-Biernat said.
Fraser also said how the new model dovetails with pastoral planning.
"As we're building stronger parishes, the IFRM fits with that," she said.
The Phase I parishes met at the Pastoral Center on March 7 to discuss the result of the initial phase of the new model.