Thanks to the efforts of Father Michael J. McGivney, assistant pastor of St. Mary’s Church in New Haven and some of his parishioners, the Connecticut state legislature on March 29, 1882, officially chartered the Knights of Columbus as a fraternal benefit society. The Order is still true to its founding principles of charity, unity and fraternity.
The Knights was formed to render financial aid to members and their families. Mutual aid and assistance are offered to sick, disabled and needy members and their families. Social and intellectual fellowship is promoted among members and their families through educational, charitable, religious, social welfare, war relief and public relief works.
The history of the Order shows how the foresight of Father Michael J. McGivney, whose cause for sainthood is being investigated by the Vatican, brought about what has become the world’s foremost Catholic fraternal benefit society. The Order has helped families obtain economic security and stability through its life insurance, annuity and long-term care programs, and has contributed time and energy worldwide to service in communities.
The Knights of Columbus has grown from several members in one council to 15,342 councils and 1.9 million members throughout the United States, Canada, the Philippines, Mexico, Poland, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Panama, the Bahamas, the Virgin Islands, Cuba, Guatemala, Guam, Saipan, Lithuania, Ukraine, and South Korea.
Our charitable activities encompass an almost infinite variety of local, national and international projects. From international charitable partnerships with Special Olympics, the Global Wheelchair Mission and Habitat for Humanity to our own Food for Families and Coats for Kids projects and other local charities, the opportunity to work together with fellow Knights and their families is virtually endless. In 2016, the Knights of Columbus set a new all-time record for the 18th consecutive year. Our charitable donations increased from $175 million in 2015 to a new total of $177,500,673 in 2016. In addition, we achieved our highest level of charitable service in 2016, volunteering more than 75 million hours of service.
“He was a man of the people [the founder of KofC]. He was ever zealous for the people’s welfare and all the kindliness of his priestly soul asserted itself most strongly in his unceasing efforts for the betterment of their condition.” -Fr. Edward Downes
From the moment of our founding in 1882, charity has been the first principle of the Knights of Columbus. We are Catholic men of faith and men of charitable action.
2017 was a record-setting year for Knights of Columbus charitable work with an unprecedented $185.6 million in donations and 75.6 million hours of service provided worldwide. The monetary value of K of C’s service hours is valued at $1.9 billion based on an estimate by Independent Sector, a network for nonprofit foundations that values a 2017 volunteer hour at $24.69.The K of C’s 2017 survey of charitable giving also showed that monetary donations increased $8 million from 2016 (+4.5 percent) and service hours grew by 527,550 (+0.7 percent). Year-over-year annual growth in both categories has been consistent over the past two decades.
Our charitable activities encompass an almost infinite variety of local, national and international projects. Our own unique charities include the Christian Refugee Relief Fund, Disaster Relief, Ultrasound Initiative, and Coats for Kids. We also partner with international charities including Special Olympics, the Global Wheelchair Mission and Habitat for Humanity.
Through our Building the Domestic Church initiative, Knights and their families have greater opportunities to participate in a variety of activities that deepen their faith, promote the New Evangelization, and strengthen our parishes.
“We are answering Pope Francis’ call to go to the peripheries,” Supreme Knight Carl Anderson said. “We can reach half way around the globe to help those in need and we can reach to our neighbor next door. And we do that every day. That makes us witnesses to the faith.”
If you’d like to be a part of an international organization of nearly 2 million Catholic men whose principal work involves helping others in need, we’d like to meet you and invite you to join us.