A national, interfaith fund-raising venture focused on a Thanksgiving appeal for money to feed the world's hungry generated only $25,000. It cost its sponsors $300,000.
Catholic Relief Services, the overseas relief and development arm of the American Catholic hierarchy; Church World Service, the comparable agency within the National Council of Churches, and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee each contributed $100,000 last fall to launch the Thanksgiving Hunger Fund.
The fund-raising effort, which leaned heavily on commercial public relations and fun-raising experts, was aimed at the general public rather than members of churches and synagogues.
"We were not going back to our good people in the pews and hit them again," said Paul Feyereisen of CRS pointing out that most religious bodies already have one or more long-established campaigns to raise relief funds from among their membership.
Sponsors of the Thanksgiving Fund, which CRS director, Bishop Edwin B. Broderick, termed "disappointing money-wise," cited the time factors as one explanation for the campaign's future.
"We got started only about three months before Thanksgiving," Feyereisen said. "There was some question about whether we should even go with it this year."
Funds collected were to be divided equally among the three religious sponsoring groups to be used in their ongoing programs, although donors could designate gift recipients.
Of the $25,000 collected, one $10,000 gift came from a single corporation. Feyereisen said that one of the reasons for establishing the interfaith fund was to tap benevolences of corporations that may be reluctant to give to a single denomination.
Sponsors of the fund will meet in January to decide whether to conduct a drive next year.