Treasure the mission: assets managed by Advancement Foundation provide for future of the diocese

by Susan Moses

North Texas Catholic

June 17, 2020

Renee Underwood holds photo of Stanley Guminski
Renée Underwood holds a photo of Stanley Guminski.
(NTC/Juan Guajardo)

In celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Diocese of Fort Worth, we’ve had the opportunity to reflect on some of the forebears in the faith in North Texas.

For example, Father Jean Marie Guyot, the French-born missionary who built St. Patrick Cathedral with his physical and spiritual labors. The Flusche brothers, German immigrants who established settlements and parishes in five locations in the diocese. The Sisters of St. Mary of Namur, who founded 29 schools in Texas and laid the foundations for Fort Worth’s hospital district. Father Peter Levy, a circuit-riding French missionary who launched four parishes in counties just south of the Red River.

Then, there are the unsung heroes without whom the diocese couldn’t flourish.

Case in point — Stanley “Steve” Guminski, who left his entire estate to the Diocese of Fort Worth upon his death in 1976.

Associate Director of the Advancement Foundation Renée Underwood likens Guminski and other donors to the women in Luke 8:1-3 who provided for Jesus and His Apostles from their resources.

“From the earliest beginnings of the Church, grateful, generous stewards have made possible the important work of ministry,” she said.

Established in 2009 as a separate, nonprofit corporation and renamed in 2013, the Advancement Foundation operates exclusively to support the charitable, religious, and educational mission of the Diocese of Fort Worth.

For most parishioners in the diocese, the Advancement Foundation is most visible through the Annual Diocesan Appeal. For the fiscal year ending June 30, 2019, the Annual Appeal provided more than $3 million in operating grants to under-resourced schools and parishes, plus supported diocesan ministries such as Catholic Charities Fort Worth, retired and infirm priests, formation for deacons and seminarians, and prison ministry, to name a few. 

The Advancement Foundation also steps up when parishes or schools launch a capital campaign to build new facilities or expand existing ones. Its resources are additionally available to help parishes understand and enhance stewardship.

Another purpose of the Advancement Foundation which is less visible than the Annual Appeal or parish involvement is its management of $92 million in assets for the enduring stability and financial health of the diocese.

The Advancement Foundation receives overall guidance and supervision from its Board of Directors — five laypeople with financial and business expertise, four priests, and the CFO of the diocese — who meet a few times each year.
Joe Monteleone, a certified public accountant who has served on the board for more than two years, said, “The Advancement Board provides oversight to the Foundation activities to make sure that money is raised, collected, and disbursed as the donors intend.”

Monteleone explained some funds are collected and go out immediately, like the operating grant to pay for curriculum resources at St. Maria Goretti Catholic School collected during the Annual Diocesan Appeal. Other funds are endowments managed according to the signed agreements that establish them, and those assets are invested by external money managers.

Designated gifts, capital campaign pledges, and donations to the Annual Diocesan Appeal have one thing in common: the funds can only be used for their original purpose.

Thank you, Boomers
Underwood, a certified fundraising executive with 11 years’ experience, said that previous generations would often designate a gift to a parish or the diocese with a single line in their will.

But now, thanks to the Boomer generation, planned giving has undergone a transformation. She explained, “Today’s donors are more specific about what they want their money to do.” 

“What aspects of the faith are most important to the donor? Is it seminarian formation, or a Catholic school, or retired religious? Where is their heart, what matters to them?” Underwood said, describing how the Foundation helps match the gift with the donor’s passion.

By setting up an endowment or making a provision in estate plans, the donor establishes a perpetual gift that can support forever the ministry of their choice, their parish, the diocese, or a Catholic school. 

These gifts are invested in accordance with Catholic values, following guidelines from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Monteleone, who sits on the board of several nonprofits, including Cristo Rey Fort Worth High School, said, “We are the Catholic Church. We don’t want to invest [in a company] if they don’t match our values.”

The three external financial managers screen the businesses before investing. At Bishop Olson’s recommendation, an outside consultant provides a secondary screening “so we are even more stringent than what the USCCB requires, and we still enjoy favorable earnings on the investment,” Monteleone said.

External auditors complete an annual audit of the Advancement Foundation, posted on the Foundation’s website, AdvancementFoundation.org. (The Diocese of Fort Worth, although separate structurally and financially from the Advancement Foundation, is equally transparent. It displays annual financial statements at FWDioc.org dating back to 2004.)

“The Advancement Foundation and its board are very keen on issues going on in the diocese. Everybody exercises due diligence with the stewardship of assets. It’s all about filling the needs of the Church, of the diocese, of the parish,” Monteleone said.

One of the biggest needs is growth, both now and in the future. Currently, the Advancement Foundation is assisting 23 parishes with capital campaigns. And if the population of North Texas grows 2.6 percent each year through 2030, as projected by the North Central Texas Council of Governments, the diocese will need to increase the size and number of its parishes.

Underwood said, “People who came along before me, or this current bishop, or past bishops, laid the foundational structures for supporting the diocese. In gratitude for their legacy, we strive each day to ensure we are good stewards of the assets that support our parishes and ministries.”

Renee Underwood holds photo of Stanley Guminski

In celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Diocese of Fort Worth, we’ve had the opportunity to reflect on some of the forebears in the faith in North Texas.

Published (until 6/17/2035)