The Texas Catholic
Saying that he was taking away more than he had given, Ed Schaffler, the president and chief executive officer of The Catholic Foundation, told dozens of friends and supporters at a retirement reception that he also hoped the organization had made an impact on their lives.
Schaffler will retire at the end of the year after 15 years at the Catholic philanthropic organization whose gifts and grants each year have helped Catholic schools, parishes and organizations with everything from parking lots and infrastructure, school renovations and technology upgrades, building cornerstones and roofs, and tuition assistance for students and grants to teachers and staff for jobs well done.
“Because of all of the work that you have done to support the church and the mission of the Catholic schools you can understand how we feel about you because you have a special place in our hearts,” Sister Gloria Cain, SSND, superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Dallas, said at the retirement reception on Dec. 5.
“On behalf of all of the Catholic schools and principals,” she continued, “I thank you for all of the work you have done on behalf of The Catholic Foundation to support and to strengthen and enhance our Catholic schools and we will forever be grateful to you.”
Since taking over the foundation in 1997, the organization has received more than $57 milliion in contributions and has distributed more than $56 million to various schools, parishes and organizations. It manages more than 300 donor-advised funds and trusts and more than $125 million in assets.
Under Schaffler, the organization’s annual dinner has grown to more than 1,300 guests each year. He also established the group’s advisory council, that is now includes more than 100 members. He added the Work of Heart Awards that honor local Catholic school employees and the Legacy Circle that includes a group of foundation donors with long-term commitments through planned gifts.
For its 50th anniversary, he led the organization to fund The Catholic Foundation Plaza next to the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe in the Dallas Arts District.
“Being at the foundation is more than I ever thought it would be,” Schaffler said. “I was able to get to know so many great people like yourselves in the 15 years I’ve been here. It is something that I’m going to miss. I am taking away a lot more than what I brought. This has been a wonderful experience for me. In some way I hope the foundation has made a small impact on each of you here.”
The evening also included a soft roast from Schaffler’s longtime friend and golfing buddy, Don Hanratty. He gave an insight into “Eddie”, his likes such as the Diocese of Dallas, the University of Notre, the arts and The Catholic Foundation. He also talked about Schaffler preparing tax returns for free for those who can’t afford them; Schaffler and his wife Jane’s volunteering with Meals on Wheels; and his leadership roles at various organizations.
He also talked about Schaffler’s seven holes-in-one and about he and Schaffler playing with Tiger Woods in the Byron Nelson Pro-Am in 2005. He said that Schaffler out-birdied Woods 3-2. “Tiger missed the cut that year, the first cut he had missed in 156 events,” Hanratty deadpanned. “Tiger has not returned to Dallas since then. Blame it on Eddie.”
In an interview later at the foundation’s office in North Dallas, Schaffler talked about his first day on the job, learning that his role was no longer watching the numbers, rather molding the organization as part of the community and finding ways to connect donors and recipients through a variety of programs.
In Schaffler’s office—on his desk and credenza and on the walls—there are numerous mementos of friendships and thanks that have been accumulated over the years.
He also talked about the deep friendships he has made and closer ties to Catholic schools, parishes and groups that have been fortified over the years because of the foundation.
He described the difficult choices that the board undertakes in awarding grants, usually not giving the full amount requested because it wants the petitioners vested in their projects. Still, the grant celebrations are poignant, he said, because those receiving grants are excited to talk about how the money will benefit many people.
He also talked about the profile of the philanthropist and how anyone can be a donor.
“Some have been very successful people that have some wealth and have a very generous heart and want to help the community,” he said. “Some are those who you have never heard of. They come from all different walks. The profile of the donor here is someone who wants to be a part of it, wants to support the community, believes in the work of the church and believes that this is the community foundation for the Catholic community and that we can be responsive.”
Schaffler also thanked the foundation staff—who he called good friends working together—and his wife, Jane, for the support he said allowed him to help build the foundation over the years.
At the reception, friends and supporters, many of them priests, posed for photos with Schaffler, but the receiving line was interrupted so that Schaffler could make his remarks.
“My successor will do a great job,” he told the audience near the end of his remarks. “He has a wonderful staff to support him and the future is that the foundation will be bigger and better. And I want to leave while the board is still smiling.”