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 more than 14,000 councils and 1.8 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 and Saipan.
From the moment of our founding in 1882, charity has been the first principle of the Knights of Columbus. We are men of faith and men of action. During 2012, in addition to raising and donating more than $167.5 million to charitable needs and projects, Knights volunteered more than 70 million hours of their time to charitable causes. These figures represent an increase of 6% and .1% respectively over 2011 figures. We undertake these acts of charity because we see those in need through the eyes of faith. Moreover, in the Knights of Columbus, we approach these acts of charity together. Pope Benedict XVI calls this the “practice of love...as a community.” 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 purely local charities, the opportunity to work together with fellow Knights and their families is virtually endless. If you’d like to be a part of an international organization of more than 1.8 million Catholic men whose principal work involves helping others in need, we'd like to meet you and invite you to join us. The Knights’ annual Survey of Fraternal Activity for the year ending Dec. 31, 2012, indicated that, despite the economy remaining soft, total charitable contributions reached $167,549,817 – exceeding the previous year’s total by more than $9.4 million. The figure includes $30,947,974 donated by the Supreme Council, and $136,601,843 in contributions from state and local councils, assemblies and Squires circles. Forty-Five percent of the contributions were for projects at the community level, many involving youth activities. Large donations during the period included $250,000 by Supreme Council and $3,308,796 by state and local councils for Special Olympics as well as $1,593,000 by Supreme Council and $4,477,120 by state and local councils for the support and promotion of religious vocations. The survey also indicated that the quantity of volunteer service hours to charitable causes by Knights grew to 70,113,207– an increase of 63,774 hours compared to 2011. There were 423,575 Knights of Columbus blood donations during the year. Cumulative figures show that during the past decade, the Knights of Columbus has donated $1.5 billion to charity, and provided more than 673 million hours of volunteer service in support of charitable initiatives.