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Diocese of Burlington launches new foundation aimed at supporting Church activities and helping needy

A new Catholic foundation in the Diocese of Burlington is aimed at supporting Church activities and helping people in need.

Mission and purpose

The mission of the new Vermont Catholic Community Foundation is to support and serve apostolic activities of the Church and make grants to nonprofit organizations in the statewide Diocese of Burlington that reflect the compassion of Christ in service to the community.

“Our purpose is to provide pathways for caring people to leave a legacy that will shape the future of our Catholic Church,” said Ellen Kane, executive director of the Vermont Catholic Community Foundation. “Whether donors wish to support their own parish, a specific ministry or Catholic education, VCCF is the mechanism that will bring the Catholic community together to build the foundation for generations to come.”

The foundation will allow the Catholic community a choice to support what they value most and to shape the evolution of the faith in Vermont.  

Why there is a need

There are limited resources available in Vermont to support Catholic activities and education; many of the existing foundations in the state will not make grants for religious purposes or to religious organizations. Often parishes and schools compete with one another for support from the same few donors.

Developing a Catholic foundation that meets the needs of the community and furthers the mission of the Church is not a new idea. There are 181 Catholic dioceses in the United States and 143 Catholic foundations — many of which formed in the early 1980s. Eight-five percent of these dioceses (122) use a foundation separate from the diocese. 

Foundations act as both a fundraising resource and investment management vehicle. “Just like colleges and universities, dioceses have recognized the importance of building endowment funds for stability and future mission of the Church as well as provide accountability to the community,” Kane said.

There are numerous state and federal regulations in order to become a community foundation that require accountability to the donor and the community, including an annual meeting, report and audit.  

Support for the Catholic community

Vermont Catholic Community Foundation has applied to become a 501c3 separate from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington, and the funds will be separate. The foundation will support Catholic and other social service programs across the state that align with the mission and social justice teachings of the Church at the direction of donors. The foundation will respond to the needs of the donors by offering more choice about what they want to fund and will offer planned giving options such as bequests, endowments, trusts, charitable gift annuities, insurance and specialty assets. 

“In addition, our investment policies reflect our faith,” Kane said. All investments meet the Catholic ethical standards required by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops guidelines. 

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington has opened two funds in the diocese to support Catholic Schools and seminarian education. Just like the parishes and schools, the RCDOB has annual appeals, such as Bishop Fund, to support specific ministries. An endowment in the foundation will provide steady income and less reliance on the annual appeal to raise it all.

Types of funds

The fund has experienced staff that will meet with donors seeking faith-based investment opportunities that benefit the mission of the Church. A minimum gift of $10,000 is necessary to start a fund, but after a fund is established, there is no minimum contribution to grow the fund.

A donor or organization may choose to open a restricted fund, designated to a specific parish, school or region, and the money will be distributed annually based on the designation. In the case of an unrestricted fund like the Catholic Schools Fund, schools seeking funds will apply for a grant based on the purpose and criteria set forth in the fund agreement.  

Current funds

The foundation was incorporated in December 2015. “In July 2016, we finalized our articles, bylaws and fund agreement documents. Now we are ready to serve the community,” Kane said.

 At the end of August, three funds were opened and an additional four funds are expected to open by the end of the year:

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington 

• Peter A. Nolin and Bertha A. Mooney Fund: $1,419,427.77

Education of young men to the Catholic priesthood
from the Diocese of Burlington.

• Joseph C. and Marie L. Turk Fund: $665,623.64

Papal See support and Roman Catholic schools and
charities of the City of Burlington.

Vermont Catholic Charities Inc.

• Gokey Fund for Catholic Healthcare: $1,011,729.09

Catholic health care to persons in need of such
assistance within the Diocese of Burlington.

Board of directors

The board is seeking members so all regions of the diocese are represented. Current members are: Brydon Beasant, realtor, Pall Spera Company; Richard Cote, assistant vice president of advancement and chief of staff at Dartmouth College; Burlington Bishop Christopher Coyne; Elizabeth Fitzgerald, Healthcare Business Executive; Msgr. John McDermott, vicar general of the Diocese of Burlington and pastor of Christ the King-St. Anthony Parish in Burlington; David Mount, Westaff owner; Jon Pizzagalli; and Kane. 

Bishop Coyne wholeheartedly supports and encourages the work of the foundation: “I thank Ellen Kane and Rick Cote (board member) for all of the hard work and time they put into making VCCF a reality, and I want to encourage parishes, organizations and the people of the diocese to be generous to the Foundation by establishing endowments that will serve the Church here in Vermont now and the future.”

Kane has served as CEO of the Fanny Allen Foundation, a Catholic foundation, and has more than 20 years of fundraising experience for non-profit health, social service and educational organizations. “I’m excited to use my unique combination of skills to benefit the Catholic community in Vermont,” she said. “I believe the Catholic community needs to come together and support each other to ensure our future — this is long overdue.” 

For more information about the Vermont Catholic Community Foundation, please contact Ellen Kane: (802) 846-5837 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Article written by Cori Fugere Urban, Vermont Catholic content editor/staff writer.
Vermont Catholic Magazine © 2016 Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington