Together We Serve is an annual appeal in the Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton. It was launched in 2014 to simplify giving by combining recurring special collections in parishes (sometimes called “second collections”) and inviting Catholics to work together to serve those in need at home, in Canada, and abroad. Together We Serve shows both Catholics and those around us that we are all one Church, acting together to advance the Mission given to us by Jesus Christ.
Catholics are obligated to “assist with the material needs of the Church, each according to his or her own ability” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2043). That is why every parish has a regular collection during Sunday Mass, a portion of which goes to support the Pastoral and Administration Office of the Local Church (Archdiocese). At both the parish and Archdiocesan levels, these funds pay for salaries, facilities, contracted services and other material needs of the Church. Together We Serve is a unique opportunity for all Catholics in the Archdiocese of Edmonton to work together to support our fellow workers in the vineyard, by giving generously and joyfully to Catholic causes that are outside the immediate needs of our parishes and Pastoral Office. As St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians about the churches in Macedonia and Achaia: I can guarantee that they were willing to give to the limit of their means, yes and beyond their means, without the slightest urging from me or anyone else. In fact, they simply begged us to accept their gifts and so let them share the honour of supporting their brothers and sisters in Christ. (2 Cor 8:2-4)
The original Together We Serve goal in 2014 was determined by looking at overall giving to special collections over the previous five years (2008-2013) and then calculating a 5-year average. When Catholic Social Services Sign of Hope was added to Together We Serve in 2015, the goal was increased by the 5-year average of parish giving to the Sign of Hope special collection. In 2016, the Together We Serve goal was increased again, by 3% to $2 million. It was reduced to $1.5 million in 2022 in response to the variety of challenges experienced by our parishes during the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The original Parish Targets were determined by looking at parish giving to special collections over the previous five years (2008-2013) and then calculating a 5-year average for each parish. Parish Targets increased with increases to the overall Together We Serve goal in 2016, and later reduced when the overall goal was reduced in 2022.
Parish targets have been determined in consultation with each parish priest, to be both achievable and inspiring for parishioners. The criteria varies by parish but can include: trends in giving since 2014, number of registered families, average donation per family, demographic changes in the parish and/or community, economic factors, and other factors identified by the parish.
Any parish that exceeds its target will receive 100% of excess funds back as a Parish Share rebate. But Parish Share is much more than a rebate cheque. It is an opportunity for your parish to raise money for its own building fund, charitable giving, or other initiatives that are important to parishioners – and to do it without running a separate fundraising campaign. Parishes can also choose to give some or all of their rebate to Together We Serve, 100% of which will be allocated to our beneficiaries. Contact the CAEDM Campaign Team to find out more.
70% to Local Needs, including: Catholic Social Services Sign of Hope, Society of St. Vincent de Paul Edmonton Central Council, St. Joseph Seminary, Newman Theological College, St. Joseph’s College at the University of Alberta, St. Joseph Priests’ Foundation, and Our Lady of Victory Youth Camp, which has been identified a local priority by Archbishop Smith. 15% to Canadian beneficiaries, including the Needs of the Church in Canada, which supports the work of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, and much-needed financial support for the northern Diocese of Mackenzie-Fort Smith. 15% to International needs, including three special collections mandated by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops: Evangelization of Peoples, Needs of the Church in the Holy Land, and the Pope’s Pastoral Works.
Development and Peace – Caritas Canada was established in 1967 by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops to promote alternatives to unjust social, political and economic structures in the global south. The D&P Share Lent campaign is a long-standing tradition in Catholic parishes. As one of a number of special collections, Share Lent was included in Together We Serve from the beginning. In 2022, in consultation with D&P, the decision was made to allow the organization to return to running its own Share Lent campaign in Archdiocese of Edmonton parishes, starting in 2022. This will enable D&P to tell its own story and reach out to a new generation of Catholic donors.
As part of a national effort announced by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Bishops of Canada have made a $30-million collective financial commitment to support healing and reconciliation initiatives for residential school survivors, their families, and their communities. In the Archdiocese of Edmonton, our financial commitment to the Indigenous Healing and Reconciliation Fund has already been achieved. Archbishop Smith encourages all Catholics in the Archdiocese to discern how they might support the long road towards healing and reconciliation with our Indigenous brothers and sisters.
Together We Serve was designed as a sign of unity in the local Church. The beneficiaries are fully supported by Archbishop Smith, and all play an important role in building up the Church and carrying out her mission at home and abroad. Designation by donors would work against this sign of unity and, therefore, is not an option for donors.
By all means, give! Together We Serve does not replace individual charitable giving to those organizations and causes that are near and dear to you. In fact, most of our Together We Serve beneficiaries reach out to their own supporters through modest fund raising appeals. If you are a supporter, please give!
Yes. When disasters or other emergencies occur, our Archdiocese will respond through special collections and/or other relief efforts. Because these events are unpredictable and emergent, they are not included in Together We Serve.
Only you can answer that question. As disciples of Christ, we should listen to how God might be calling each of us to serve others through our charitable giving – and to respond generously in gratitude for the abundance we have received. We invite you to take the time to pray about it and discern how Together We Serve fits into your life of discipleship. Here are some starting points you might consider:
- Do I want to give monthly, annually, or just when I have a little extra to share?
- How much am I already giving to my parish and other charities? While Catholics are not required to tithe, many Christians try to give between 5-10% of their gross or net income to church and charity.
- Give what you can. The average annual gift to Together We Serve is just under $500, but that simply means that half give more than $500 and half give less.
- If I am already giving to Together We Serve, can I give more? Many of us fall into a comfort zone with our parish and charitable giving and don’t stop to think about how the organizations we support are affected by things like inflation and increasing costs (just like in our own families).
There are many ways to give to Together We Serve. Choose the one that works for you.
- By pre-authorized debit to your parish. Your donation to Together We Serve can be directly deposited in your parish bank account, every month, every quarter or according to any schedule you request. Most parishes now offer PAD. Contact your parish office for more information.
- By credit card. Check with your parish office to see if your parish accepts credit card donations. If not, visit the Archdiocese website at https://caedm.ca/ and click on “Ways to Give,” then follow the Together We Serve link. Your gift will be counted toward your Parish Target (when you select your parish name).
- By donation envelope. Most parishes provide Together We Serve envelopes in their envelope boxes (often monthly). The Archdiocese also prints Together We Serve envelopes and distributes them to parishes. You can use Together We Serve envelopes year-round and/or on special collection days to make a donation by cash, cheque or credit card.
- By e-transfer. This is a good option if you want to make a donation to Together We Serve without leaving home! Contact your parish office for more information.
- Mail or drop-off your donation to your parish office or the Archdiocese Pastoral and Administration Office at 8421 101 Avenue NW, Edmonton AB T6A 0L1. Be sure to indicate that it is for Together We Serve.
The administrative cost for Together We Serve is 7% of the $1.5 million goal, or up to $105,000. This amount includes the “hard costs” of producing items like the TWS donation envelopes, information resources, and tracking posters for over 80 parishes. More importantly, it includes a portion of the staff time dedicated to Together We Serve, including parish support and liaison, development of campaign resources (including the TWS webpage, videos and bulletin information), and finance and administrative support to process donations and create financial reports. At 7%, Together We Serve administrative costs are well below typical administrative costs for Canadian non-profit organizations and charitable appeals (~12-15%). But then, Together We Serve is neither a charitable organization nor a “typical” charitable appeal. As a special initiative of the Archdiocese of Edmonton, Together We Serve benefits from the existing administrative and parish structure, while offering the opportunity for parishes and the Archdiocese to work together to meet a wide variety of needs.
The administrative cost for Together We Serve is 7% of the $1.5 million goal, or up to $105,000. This amount includes the “hard costs” of producing items like the TWS donation envelopes, information resources, and tracking posters for over 80 parishes. More importantly, it includes a portion of the staff time dedicated to Together We Serve, including parish support and liaison, development of campaign resources (including the TWS webpage, videos and bulletin information), and finance and administrative support to process donations and create financial reports. At 7%, Together We Serve administrative costs are well below typical administrative costs for Canadian non-profit organizations and charitable appeals (~12-15%). But then, Together We Serve is neither a charitable organization nor a “typical” charitable appeal. As a special initiative of the Archdiocese of Edmonton, Together We Serve benefits from the existing administrative and parish structure, while offering the opportunity for parishes and the Archdiocese to work together to meet a wide variety of needs. Before Together We Serve, the Archdiocese incurred the administrative costs for processing special collections and included these costs in its overall finance-administration costs. When all beneficiaries – including some new ones – were brought together under the Together We Serve umbrella, Archdiocesan administrative costs went up, while many of the beneficiaries’ own administrative costs went down. Also, before Together We Serve, most special collections received little or no promotion, other than a pink or green envelope among the white collection envelopes. While some organizations produced and distributed their own promotional materials, others – especially the international special collections mandated by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops – received little if any promotion. Together We Serve was designed, in part, to provide more information about all beneficiaries to help donors discern a meaningful level of giving. These efforts require staff time and effort. Taken together, the shared administrative and promotional costs have significantly reduced costs for our beneficiaries and contributed to the more efficient use of limited resources for promoting local and Canadian Catholic organizations and causes.