We need your money!
The J&P Finances are in relatively good shape, considering the considerable re-orientation of our activities in the last 12 months. The key factors that have led to this situation are:-
• We have had grant money for some work and a steady amount of regular income through Standing Orders. Our income will have decreased but not by a large amount.
• Our activities will end up costing us far less this financial year (which ends on 31 March) because they were mostly online. This is what has made a big difference.
• A third factor is that there has been much more voluntary activity in this financial year – reducing the amounts that we have had to pay to people to do stuff for us (mainly Helen – servicing the Commission, arranging our events and managing most of the newsletter production).
So why am I asking for your money?
It is quite simple: we need to do more.
The last 12 months have served to highlight the inequalities in our country and in the following year it is only going to get worse. In the next 12 months we are going to see much higher levels of unemployment and rising poverty (by whatever measure you care to use) in our own country. Funding for Developing countries is becoming much more difficult (e.g. the way in which UK Aid money is being increasingly tied to trade) and in comparison to the likes of the UK, very few vaccine deliveries have been made to countries in the global South. The rise of the Black Lives Matter movement has served to spotlight the continuing discrimination experienced by people of colour in this country. ….. and I haven’t even mentioned Climate Change yet!
Systemic injustice lies at the root of all these problems – the way we have organised ourselves as a country and within the world only serves to compound these problems. We need systemic change – and that is not achieved easily. Our role as a Commission is to reflect on the key issues of the day in the light of Catholic Social Teaching. It must start with us – with the change of heart that comes when we reflect on the injustice around us in the light of the Gospels. Just as with confession, it is no good just being sorry for the sins that we have committed – we must resolve not to sin again. So, when we reflect on systemic injustice it is no good just wringing our hands and saying that we cannot do something about it.
We cannot solve these issues individually – but that is not the same thing as doing nothing. As Pope Francis puts it in ‘Laudato Si’ we need to have a ‘community conversion’. That is why the Commission needs to do more and why we need more financial support from the Catholic community in the Leeds Diocese.
Over the last 5 years we have reorganised how we do our work so that it is split between the ‘ongoing’ work – such as the communications work via the regular newsletter, social media posts and our up-to-date website – and project work. Some projects we just do with our core funds – such as our Days of Reflection. Others are more complex and require us to apply for grant funding – such as the SPARK social justice project with young adults or the Family Poverty workshops we were doing prior to lockdowns. Both of these were supported externally, and we would have been unable to do anything effective without the funding received from the Porticus Trust and the Society of the Holy Child Jesus.
Yes, we must support those who provide immediate relief for those in greatest need – such as the work of the SVP or the emergency appeals issued by CAFOD. However, we must also support the longer-term work of changing unjust systems and policies. This is where supporting the work of the Commission comes in. In the words of Emeritus Pope Benedict “Love needs to be organised” – and that takes money.
Are you or your parish community really taking that seriously?
WHERE DOES OUR MONEY COME FROM?
Our financial year ends on 31 March – so I will report in May on the actual amounts involved in our income and expenditure over the previous 12 months.
However, to give perspective, here are a few key facts, which, when you think about them, I am hoping will lead to some action on your part!
- Out of the more than 30,000 or so mass goers (in ‘normal’ times!) in the Leeds Diocese there are less than 20 who regularly contribute to the work of the Commission through a Standing Order. Yet, with gift aid, this brings in close to £3000 per annum. What if that were more like 200?
- Out of 80 or so parishes in the diocese, one contributes an annual amount towards our communication costs. We do receive a central grant of £5,000 from the Diocese itself – but it would be so much more encouraging if individual parishes were to show their commitment to our work as well.
- During this financial year we have had about £17,000 in external grant funding – the biggest single element of our income. The two most important points to make about this are:
- Whatever money we receive from individuals and the Diocese we can multiply through successfully applying for external funding.
- I cannot emphasise enough the importance of the contributions made by individuals or parishes. It demonstrates to trusts and foundations that there is a level of underlying support for our work within the Diocese and this makes it more likely that they will support our applications for grant funding.