Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 5, 2000
Knights see planned giving as antidote to bingo
WCR Staff Writer
Alberta's Knights of Columbus have taken a large step towards ending the order's reliance on gambling to raise funds for charity.
At their convention in Edmonton May 19-22, delegates approved going ahead with a planned giving program that could add more than $1 million a year to the Alberta Knights' Charitable Foundation.
Started 20 years ago, the foundation has raised capital of more than $1.2 million. The foundation uses the earnings from that conservatively invested capital to donate to charity. Last year, it gave $53,000 to women's shelters, natural family planning groups, and the province's Catholic institutions of higher learning.
But that's a drop in the bucket compared to Dennis Castellino's big plans for the foundation. Castellino, a retired Calgary oil company executive, was the state deputy two years ago when the Knights threw their verbal support behind the Alberta bishops' statement, The False Eden of Gambling.
At that time, the Knights pledged to seek alternative ways of fundraising than bingos and casinos.
"A lot of our members are beginning to question the morality of raising of money through gaming events," Castellino said in a May 21 interview.
Now the charitable foundation's director of planned giving, he believes he has found the alternative to bingo.
If the foundation had capital of several million dollars, some of the earnings could be assigned back to the councils for them to give to charities, he said.
"Planned giving is a tremendous and powerful way to raise money for short and long-term giving," he said.
Using tools such as life insurance, gift annuities and bequests, donors can make a gift to their favourite charity while, at the same time, receiving tax benefits.
Castellino said people are eager to give, but often unaware of how to do so while preserving the financial security of themselves and their beneficiaries.
But the Knights, with a network of insurance agents across the province and many lawyers and accountants belonging to the order, have the ability to explain the benefits of planned giving to their members, he said.
A goal of $100,000 a year in cash gifts to the foundation and another $1 million a year through planned giving is attainable, he said.
In 10 years, with more than $10 million committed to the foundation, councils could draw on the foundation's earnings for their charitable giving rather than on gambling revenues, Castellino said.
"We believe the opportunity is tremendous," he said. "I believe we are at the right time to pursue the planned giving approach."
Castellino plans to set up teams in each of the five regions of the province to pursue planned giving.
He also conducted a survey to find out how K of C councils raise funds through ways other than gambling.
Thirty three councils responded, citing an array of activities from pancake breakfasts that raised less than $1,000 to a lobster dinner in Hay River that nets $20,000 a year.
Castellino was excited by the $20,000 figure because it approaches what a council can make by running a casino.
He also believes that if the Knights do not devote so much of their efforts to fundraising for charity, they will have more time to take part in charitable works.