Catholic Charities debuts new system for periodic giving

Wed, Sep 21st 2016 08:00 am
Staff Reporter
Catholic Charities hopes their new giving program will help address specific needs as they happen. (File Photo)
Catholic Charities hopes their new giving program will help address specific needs as they happen. (File Photo)

When thinking of "if x, then y" statements, one's thoughts may initially revert back to high school math classes. However, these statements are also a crucial part of a system Catholic Charities of Buffalo is rolling out to allow people to make contributions on a periodic basis while appealing to donors, especially young adults.

IfThenGiving considers itself a "circumstantial fundraising tool" for charities. Catholic Charities is using this in order to raise funds for its chemical dependency treatment program in Buffalo.

The campaign, which several other major national not-for-profit organizations are currently beta testing, allows users to pledge to give a certain amount of dollars to that charity if or when a certain circumstance occurs, and provide their credit card info for later.

Once said circumstance occurs, users receive emails reminding them that the non-profit will bill them for a pre-determined amount of money to their card. Catholic Charities of Buffalo debuted this system in response to the opioid addiction crisis in the area.

"If four individuals enter our Suboxone program, also known as our chemical dependency treatment program for opioid addiction, then a donation that someone has pledged is triggered," said Rose Caldwell, communications and public relations director for Catholic Charities of Buffalo."A donor can decide how often they want that to occur. It could be a minimum or maximum amount on it."

Clara Spas, appeal advancement director for Catholic Charities, said this is an "interesting way of giving that connects the donor to an actual circumstance that is happening," rather than simply giving because there is a need in the community, which is also good, but is more abstract.

"It really pinpoints and drives it down to a specific need. Our circumstance is our Suboxone program, and we picked it because, unfortunately, it has really been in the news a lot. The opioid addiction is affecting a lot of people," Spas explained.

According to Caldwell, Suboxone is a medication that works to combat the symptoms of addiction and later withdrawal, blocking effects of opioids so that someone struggling with addiction may function while his or her body gets used to being without them, relieving painful withdrawal symptoms.

Caldwell said many people who come into the chemical dependency treatment program that Catholic Charities operates, located at the Monsignor Carr Institute at 76 West Humboldt Parkway, come due to an addiction to opioids, which have become a major health crisis.

In addition to heroin, many who are addicted to opioids use prescription painkillers they were first prescribed after an injury or illness.

Since the epidemic is so widespread, it has become something that affects a large portion of Western New York, and many individuals can connect either because they are suffering themselves or they know someone else who is suffering. "When a circumstance happens, people feel very connected to their gift, that they're helping somebody when they need it the most," added Spas.

"The reason why we chose four (people) is because we could trigger donations a lot, and sometimes you can never determine when you're going to receive a new client. However, based on some of the statistics we had, on average we received about four new patients a month. Rather than triggering a donation every week, we thought it was more reasonable for a donor to do something monthly," she continued.

As of August, visitors to were greeted with a link to the new IfThenGiving campaign page to allow donors to give money to benefit the Suboxone program. Cards are not charged until the circumstance occurs, users are notified before they are billed and donors may cancel at any time. The tool is specifically designed to appeal to younger adults who may have a limited income, and may be more likely to donate if they know their money is going to a specific, defined use.

"The parameters we set up, I believe, we felt occur twice a month. We kind of let them know that on the website, so they would have some sense of what kind of a commitment it might be," Caldwell said. "It is truly up to the donor. The whole idea was to try to reach a new demographic: millennials."

Those who are interested in donating via IfThenGiving, through the current pilot program, may visit the direct link to Catholic Charities of Buffalo's campaign at The Facebook page for Catholic Charities of Buffalo,, also features a link to it.


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