The 18th day of the General Chapter, Thursday May 28th, focussed on financial issues, but this time involved a deepening of our understanding of fundraising. This is necessary because the Entities of the Order which have up to now been well able to support themselves as well as other parts of the Order, are now in decline, while the younger Entities have a lot of expenses and are not financially self-sufficient.
Before addressing the central issue of the day, the various Chapter Commissions had their first working meetings. The Rules of Procedure of the Chapter states that these commissions are responsible for the formulation and discussion of proposals and should study the various reports that have been presented in the Chapter Sessions.
For the second plenary session of the morning Br. John O’Connor had been asked by the Minister General to present new strategies for fundraising activities. Br. John outlined the steps undertaken by the General Curia in recent years and he explained the criteria for developing a fundraising project that will address the Order’s issues.
At midday, the Chapter Assembly was visited by the Mayor of Assisi, Mr. Claudio Ricci. He greeted to the Chapter and spoke of the symbolic and spiritual value of Assisi. In appreciating the work and the presence of the Franciscans, he said that Franciscan thought was more than ever needed in our world and should become much more universally known, because it can propose socio-economic solutions to our society and, beginning from an experience of brotherhood, it can offer an ”economy of communion”.
The afternoon session featured a presentation via Skype from Dr. Valerio Melandri, Professor of the Principles and Techniques of Fundraising at the University of Bologna (Italy) and Columbia (New York). Professor Melandri helped us to deepen our understanding of the concept of fundraising, and explained how important it is to communicate the positive results of donations, and how social media has a part to play in this. He also explained how fundraising arises from a personal relationship with the individual donor who shares our aims and values, so it should be organized centrally but developed locally. The Minister General stressed the aspect of values in this whole area and said that fundraising can be a means to promote consistency, transparency and a sense of solidarity in the life of the friars.
A further working session in the Chapter Commissions was held before Evening Prayer, and so concluded another long day, but one which was full of ideas and proposals for the future.