Scott Warden
May 28, 2024 // Diocese

Catholic Community Foundation’s New CEO Eager to Help Families Leave Lasting Legacy

Scott Warden

Mackenzie Ritchie

Earlier this year, the Catholic Community Foundation of Northeast Indiana announced that Mackenzie Ritchie would succeed Mike Shade as its CEO. Shade had led the foundation since 2017.

The mission of the Catholic Community Foundation of Northeast Indiana is to support the spiritual, educational, and charitable ministries of the Catholic Church and Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend by inspiring charitable giving and estate planning.

The foundation, essentially, helps donors and local Catholic organizations by establishing endowment funds that provide ongoing, long-term support for Catholic parishes, schools, and other groups and apostolates across the diocese. According to the foundation’s 2023 impact statement, the foundation has distributed more than $11 million out of the 271 funds it holds throughout the past five years, and more than $2.3 million was distributed during the 2023 fiscal year alone.

Ritchie is no stranger to the fundraising and development space, having previously worked for two military academies before serving as the Director of Communications and Director of Development for the Diocese of Gaylord, Michigan.

In an interview with Today’s Catholic, Ritchie explains the benefits of giving to parishes, schools, and elsewhere through the foundation, the challenges and opportunities of sharing the foundation’s mission, and the joy she’s found in forming relationships with members of the Catholic community.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Today’s Catholic: Many readers are likely familiar with the name Catholic Community Foundation of Northeast Indiana, but what the foundation does might be a mystery to them. How would you describe the mission of the foundation to everyday Catholics?

Mackenzie Ritchie: In these first few months in my new role, I’ve found this to be true—I’m realizing one of our biggest challenges is that many people are unaware of what we do. Our mission, at its heart, is to provide long-term financial support to the Catholic community in northeast Indiana. So, what is the Catholic community? It’s every parish, it’s every Catholic school, it’s every Catholic ministry. And how do we provide long-term financial support? We do that by connecting individuals and families with the Catholic ministries they are most passionate about. Our mission is to walk alongside donors in their charitable giving, helping them to establish or donate to endowment funds that provide permanent financial support to Catholic organizations.

For those who may not be familiar with what endowment funds are, I like to refer to them as “forever funds” – these are charitable funds set up in perpetuity and meant to provide ongoing, permanent support for their designated purpose. Endowment funds are invested and, each year, a portion of the return on that investment is granted directly to the cause the donor specified.

Today’s Catholic: To help readers understand a little more clearly, the foundation invests their donations by pooling them with like-minded givers and then the proceeds of those investments provide an ongoing gift to the parish or school or organization that they’ve chosen, correct?

Ritchie: That’s exactly right. So, for example, if a donor were to set up a fund to support Immaculate Conception Parish in Kendallville, their gift will always be separate in the sense that it can only be used to benefit Immaculate Conception, but it is pooled together with the other endowments held at the foundation for investment. When a grant is made from the return on that investment, their fund’s portion of that return will go directly to Immaculate Conception. This is an annual process, providing ongoing support to their chosen ministry.

The foundation grants out 4.5 percent each year, while leaving the principal of the endowment gifts intact. This is what allows the funds to grow over time while continuing to provide support to the specified ministries year after year.    

I also think it’s important for parishioners to know that at the Catholic Community Foundation of Northeast Indiana, our investment portfolio and strategies are aligned with Catholic teaching. This commitment to socially responsible investing, which ensures we invest based on Catholic moral principles, is an important part of our foundation’s mission. Donors can feel confident that not only is their donation supporting the ministry they love forever, their gift is also being invested in a way that fully reflects our beliefs as Catholics.

Today’s Catholic: When donating through the foundation, what’s the benefit for donors – and also, what’s the benefit for the schools, parishes, and other Catholic groups you’re holding funds for? Many might think, “Well, I donate to my parish’s collection every week.” So how is donating to the foundation different, and what is the advantage?

Ritchie: That’s a beautiful question, because even for myself as a parishioner and donor, that’s at the top of my mind. It’s really important for parishioners to donate to both, quite frankly. Here’s how I like to think of it: The tithing you do weekly to your parish is absolutely critical. It covers the everyday ministry work and things like payroll, keeping the lights on … all those necessary things that keep the parish running today. If everyone stopped tithing and started just giving to endowments, we might be in trouble, operationally speaking! So it’s really important to give that weekly support directly to your parish and Catholic organizations.

Giving to the foundation, however, provides financial support to your parish for tomorrow and beyond. Giving through the foundation ensures that future needs are met, so that your children and grandchildren have an opportunity to receive the sacraments, have a place to worship, etc. This is very important, too! Giving to your parish directly and giving through the foundation both support the same purpose, but in very different ways. One supports the ministry work of today and one supports the work of tomorrow.

Another difference is the way that donors generally give to these two different areas – the needs of today and needs of tomorrow. For most people, including myself, tithing comes from current disposable income. For me and my husband, it’s part of our budget, along with our groceries, utility bills, those types of things. But in our personal finances, we treat our retirement planning differently than our everyday expenses. Giving through the foundation is similar to that retirement savings concept. In our charitable giving, it’s where we start thinking about the future and move beyond today’s expenses. It’s where we dream about how we can make a difference for our Catholic parish or ministry 10, 20, or even 50 years down the road. Much like in a personal budget, gifts to forever funds – endowments – are often not from disposable income. Instead, gifts are made through a donor’s will or other estate plans, often as a percentage or dollar amount of their estate. For many, giving this percentage, let’s say 5 or 10 percent, is like continuing to tithe even after they’ve died. This is a beautiful legacy that makes a world of difference to their parish and other Catholic ministries they support.

Today’s Catholic: Earlier this year you were named the CEO of the foundation, replacing Mike Shade, who had been in that position since 2017. How has the transition been for you personally, and what did it mean to have Mike help you learn about the foundation and its mission?

Ritchie: I was able to spend a few weeks with Mike as he transitioned into retirement, and it was a wonderful experience to work alongside him during that time. I’m very grateful for his ongoing support and for the wisdom he shares. He’s been “boots on the ground” for the last several years, and having him aid in the transition has been such a blessing. I’m also grateful for the relationships Mike developed; it was obvious from day one that he had very positive relationships with families and donors, many of whom are still calling me to wish him the best in retirement! This speaks volumes about the priority Mike places on personal relationships and his understanding of the special honor it is to maintain those relationships with donors. I look forward to carrying on that important work moving forward.

Today’s Catholic: What have been some of the challenges – or will be some of the challenges going forward? You mentioned that one of them is getting Catholics in the community familiar with what the foundation is doing. Can you expound on that and then talk about some other challenges that you face?

Ritchie: Two challenges come to mind, but both are also opportunities. One is raising awareness of what the foundation is and what it does. Even when I’m talking with my own family or close friends, I’ve noticed a lack of understanding about what we do and the ways in which we serve both donors and our Catholic ministries. 

The other challenge is that I think many people have a preconceived notion – and I probably did, too – that giving through the foundation is complicated, particularly if they aren’t familiar with endowments or investments. But largely, it’s the exact opposite! It certainly can be complicated if you have really complex wishes and plans you want or need to make. But for most donors, it is actually almost as simple as tithing. If you would like to make a gift through your estate plan, there’s very simple language we can provide for you to support your parish or Catholic school. It’s so simple yet can make such a tremendous impact.

I know that the person sitting in the pews is thinking, “I’m not looking for one more complicated thing in my life. … I just want to help my parish.” And so, for me, if we accomplish one thing, it would be that the lay faithful know that if you want to give permanent support to your parish, Catholic school, or ministry, it can be as simple as a few paragraphs in your estate plan or leaving us as the beneficiary on your life insurance. It can be very easy, and we want every Catholic to feel equipped to give in this way. That’s where our foundation team can provide support, at no cost, to any individual or family that simply has questions about how to do this or to help explore the areas of need that exist in our Catholic community.

Today’s Catholic: What have you found surprising about the foundation and being its CEO? And what brings you joy about doing this work?

Ritchie: I love getting to know our donors and getting to play a special role in their lives by helping them to leave a legacy. Every donor is so different – from their background, life experiences, what they want to accomplish with their giving, and what they feel passionate about. Yet in everyone I visit with, there is a common thread in that they have a deep faith that has inspired them to generosity.

When I go home at night, after I’ve had great donor conversations throughout the day, I always feel renewed in my own faith. It is awe-inspiring to witness the radical generosity of others. I find it deepens my own relationship with the Lord. I mean, witnessing love that is generously poured out for others is the hallmark of our Catholic faith – just look at the crucifix! Our faith is all about giving ourselves away for the good of others. Getting to work with donors every day, and to work with all our Catholic parishes and ministries and know of the incredible sacrifices they make in their work, it really fills me with gratitude. I’m inspired by the people I work alongside, who are living their faith and giving freely of themselves, with no strings attached. These wonderful people give, and they never look back, and it brings them such joy. I just love that part of the work.


This year, the Catholic Community Foundation of Northeast Indiana is hosting the annual Viva Bocce! event – one of the area’s largest fundraisers for the Church in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.

   Viva Bocce! will be held on Thursday, June 13, at Bishop D’Arcy Stadium on the campus of the University of Saint Francis. The event supports the work of the Foundation, and a portion of the proceeds from this year’s event will be donated to A Mother’s Hope, a ministry that shelters pregnant women experiencing homelessness and provides life-changing opportunities for growth. 

   To learn more about the tournament, and to register your team, visit

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