September 26, 2011
CHRIS MILLER
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

RED DEER — Over the past 30 years, the Alberta Knights of Columbus Charitable Foundation has established itself as a reliable source of extra funds for many charities across the province.

The foundation is a major contributor to about 75 charities every year, from the Sign of Hope campaign to the Strathcona Christmas Bureau.

Twelve members comprise the foundation’s board. Robert Kruchten, a retired teacher from Red Deer, was elected president of the foundation at the June 18 board meeting in Sherwood Park. In the foundation’s history, he is only the second president who was not a past state deputy for the Knights.

“At one time all of the state deputies were directors, but it became so cumbersome because 20 directors was too many to work with, so we cut it back to five state deputies, four regional representatives and three appointed members,” said Kruchten.

The foundation’s purpose is to raise money, manage the funds, and then dole out donations to various charities.

Unlike annual raffles that might generate a different amount of money each time, the foundation was started in 1980 to provide a stable source of funding from year to year. The foundation could consistently meet its commitments to charities that depended on them.

CORNERSTONE OF FAITH

Many Catholics in the Alberta-Northwest Territories’ support the Knights’ objectives and the kinds of worthwhile causes that the foundation supports. The foundation committed $100,000 to the Cornerstone of Faith campaign, which raises money for the new St. Joseph Seminary and Newman Theological College in Edmonton.

“Our main two charities the past 15 to 20 years have been St. Joseph Seminary and St. Mary’s University College in Calgary. Over the years we’ve probably given each one of them over $200,000,” said Kruchten.

Other recent recipients of foundation donations were Living Waters College in Derwent, Discovery House, Camp Encounter, Pregnancy Crisis Centre and Bosco Homes.

The foundation raises money through an annual car raffle. A clergy golf day is another fundraiser, raising a few thousand dollars each September. A common trend lately is for knights, through planned giving in their wills, to bequeath some of their assets to the foundation upon their death.

Earlier this year the Knights mailed an appeal to 16,000 members in Alberta seeking donations to the charitable foundation to help it meet requests from numerous charities.

“The letter-writing campaign that we had this spring raised a fair amount of money, and it certainly helped our council fund, and we’ll probably do that again in a year or two,” said Kruchten.

“But we don’t aggressively raise funds or compete with the individual councils. When you’ve only got the Catholic community, we don’t want to be competing with the local churches and local Knights.”

SO MANY NEEDS

The foundation has about $1.4 million in its kitty right now. However, it receives so many requests that it cannot say “yes” to all of them. They feel most connected to special diocesan projects, the seminary and Catholic education institutions.

“We get far more requests for donations than we can possibly fill. It’s always a heart-wrenching job to give to one charity and not another. They are all worthwhile causes, but we have to make a decision and we only have so many funds,” said Kruchten.