August 16, 2013

‘Win, win’ for students and donors spurs events to increase scholarships

By John Shaughnessy

Mike McGinley knows the power of gifts that come from the heart—gifts that shape and change lives.

“I really believe that the greatest gifts that my parents gave me were unconditional love and support, true self-confidence, and my Catholic faith and the opportunity for a Catholic education,” McGinley says. “I just believe that the opportunity for Catholic schools to speak about and focus on Christ on a daily basis is a real difference maker. There’s no substitute for it.”

Based on that belief, the father of five young children jumped at the opportunity to serve as the chairperson of the development committee of the annual Celebrating Catholic School Values event on Oct. 8.

It’s a role that has already led McGinley to develop several innovative ideas to enhance scholarship and fundraising efforts that benefit families who want their children to attend Catholics schools, and donors who desire to make that opportunity available while maximizing the tax benefits of their contributions.

Working with the archdiocese’s Office of Catholic Education and the Office of Stewardship and Development, McGinley is focusing on the benefits of Indiana Tax Credit Scholarships—and how the guidelines for those scholarships have changed this year in relation to Indiana school vouchers, offering an immediate benefit to certain students already in Catholic schools.

“Many things changed in the school choice laws this year, but the most important allowed for Tax Credit Scholarships to apply to income-eligible students already in our Catholic school seats from kindergarten through 12th grade,” says G. Joseph Peters, special consultant to the archdiocese’s Office of Catholic Education. (Related: Area gatherings will discuss tax credit scholarship benefits)

“A Tax Credit Scholarship of at least $500 per child, given for one year, allows an eligible student to receive the state school voucher the following year and for up to 12 years of education in a Catholic school—a potential of $60,000 in state voucher assistance.”

From a donor’s standpoint, there is also the appeal of a tax benefit from contributing to a scholarship.

“With a 50 percent state tax credit and, for example, a 35 percent federal tax deduction, a donor can give $1,000 toward scholarships for as little as $150,” Peters notes.

That double benefit—making Catholic education an option for all families and creating a substantial tax credit—is a point that McGinley will stress in four advance lunch/breakfast events around the archdiocese on Aug. 27, Aug. 28, Sept. 4 and Sept. 8.

As part of that program, McGinley has developed an incentive program for Catholic schools to bring potential donors to the events.

“Our goal is to have participation of at least 50 Catholic schools,” says McGinley, a member of St. Pius X Parish in Indianapolis with his wife, Heather, and their five children, who attend the parish school. “We’ll have a fun incentive plan where if any school has a staff member and at least two guests at one of the events, that school will receive a $1,000 scholarship. The school that has the most money raised from the four events will receive a $10,000 scholarship.

“The school that has the most attendees from the four events will receive a $5,000 scholarship, regardless of the total pledge. The school that has the greatest number of pledges from the events, regardless of the money raised, will also receive a $5,000 scholarship.”

The combined $70,000 value of those incentives will be covered by donors, according to McGinley, a 1985 graduate of St. Matthew School and a 1989 graduate of Cathedral High School, both in Indianapolis.

McGinley attended one of these breakfast meetings last year. After the meeting, he immediately called his accountant to see if the tax benefits mentioned were accurate. The accountant said they were. So he and Heather contributed $25,000 to the scholarship program, a gift they have already matched for this year, according to Peters.

At last year’s Celebrating Catholic School Values event, the committee and the schools celebrated a total of more than $1 million in contributions.

“This year, our goal is $1.5 million, and our stretch goal is $2 million,” says McGinley, a financial adviser for Northwestern Mutual. “It’s important to help the donor realize how valuable this tax credit is, and how it allows them to provide a much larger gift than they may otherwise be able to do.”

Equally important is having volunteers working to help families afford a Catholic education, notes Rosemary O’Brien, director of corporate and foundation development for the archdiocese’s Office of Stewardship and Development.

“The archdiocese has been blessed through the years to attract committed volunteers to meet the needs of our many ministries,” O’Brien says. “The blessings continue as more of our young Catholic families become involved in our mission. Mike brings his business acumen, business and social network, and friends to expand the volunteer base. We are blessed to have outstanding volunteers who do good work for Catholic education.”

McGinley downplays any praise, preferring to focus on the blessings that a Catholic education have created in his life—the same blessings that he and Heather, also a 1989 Cathedral graduate, hope for their five children who range in age from 13 to 6.

“When I was in Catholic schools, I was around really good people,” says McGinley, the oldest of five children of Mike and Ann McGinley. “I was around other kids that were in families that thought a Catholic education was important and were willing to make sacrifices for. My 12 years at St. Matthew and Cathedral were difference makers. My closest friends today were my friends at St. Matthew and Cathedral.”

McGinley believes the Indiana Tax Credit Scholarships offer that opportunity and experience to more children today.

“This is a win for everybody—the state, Catholic schools, Catholic students and the scholarship recipients.” †

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