Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Nonprofit Administration (MNA)


The much-publicized low-level giving of Catholic donors versus other denominations has been the source of much debate and a rich topic for many research studies and reports, especially within the last 10 years. The major focus of this current study was to show that Catholics are indeed generous and to seek factors that lead to their giving. The positive aspects of Catholic generosity were sought, rather than focusing on negative factors serving as barriers to giving.

A self-administered questionnaire was sent to 208 known Catholic donors of the Diocese of Oakland in California during its Annual Bishop's Appeal. Donors who had given $100.00 or more within a 24-month period received a survey during the month of September in the year 2000. Donors within three parishes in three different cities-Pleasant Hill, Union City, and San Ramon-were selected as a study sample. These were parishes with the most donors from the Annual Appeal and not the most wealthy parishes within the diocese. The survey asked 20 multiple-choice questions and two open-ended questions addressing the giving patterns of the respondents, their habits in terms of church attendance, personal characteristics including educational background, and their ability to give. Ninety-five individuals responded (46%), ranging in age from 32 to 83 years and an average age of 55.78 years. These respondents represented a core group of committed, involved, and generous parishioners. They were also deemed to be a representative sample of such individuals within any Catholic parish.

If Catholics wish to continue meeting the needs of their increasing population, sufficient funds must be generated to build new schools, new churches, and to continue the outreach toward justice for which the Catholic church is known. This will mean a consistent focus on building the donor base in development offices of dioceses around the country. This goal also served as the purpose of the current study. The results suggest that the respondents were more involved in church life than their counterparts in other religious organizations. Additionally, their personal data showed them to be much more educated and, in fact, more sophisticated in their giving patterns. Most of the respondents planned their gifts, rather than giving from leftover funds. These findings could be taken to a diocesan-wide level and the study easily replicated and used in comparing other dioceses across the United States. This would aid in discovering if the core group of givers identified in this study indeed exists in every diocese. If so, are development directors providing these individuals with the proper means to facilitate their contribution, or are potential donors meeting barriers in their attempts to give? Greater understanding of the group of donors newly revealed in this study is needed to effectively increase fundraising efforts in support of the Catholic church.