WeShare + V8s for Vocations = Evangelization!!!
When one of Father Keller’s parishioners suggested he restore a car, his love for cars and desire to do God’s work at the same time took it one step further. He decided he would restore a classic car, raffle it off, and use the proceeds to send a prospective priest to seminary school. “The training and development of priests is expensive,” Keller said. “I thought it would be fun to restore a classic and help one of these young men at the same time.
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In June 2014 another parishioner bought and donated a 1972 Chevelle Super Sport and V8s for Vocations was born. Over the next seventeen months approximately fifty volunteers worked in Sacred Heart Cathedral’s garage to rebuild the car. “So many people have helped us out with their time and expertise – mechanics, car guys, all kinds of people. Some men have walked into the garage in the back of the church who might not walk through the front doors. The car has given us a great opportunity to minister to them,” Keller said.
Selling the Raffle Tickets
Sacred Heart Cathedral in Gallup, NM has offered online giving opportunities through a WeShare account since 2013. Through this online space, the cathedral was able to create a raffle event and sell tickets. At first it was a local event, but when the story was picked up by Hagerty, a well-known insurance company specializing in classic cars, the ticket sales went national. Sacred Heart Cathedral sold 5,834 tickets at $25 apiece, raising over $145,000. In addition, a dedicated V8s for Vocations website was created to feature the progress of the restoration.
The raffle was held on December 12, 2015, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The day was of special significance to the Diocese of Gallup, marking its day for diaconate ordinations during the diocese’s 75th anniversary, and Sacred Heart Cathedral’s 60th anniversary. That day, Don Good became the proud new owner of a fully restored 1972 Chevelle Super Sport.
Looking to the Future
Father Keller joked, “This is my mid-life crisis, I thought (working on cars) was behind me, but God had other plans.” And when asked about the possibilities for the future he responded, “If God is willing, so am I.”
Sacred Heart Cathedral’s WeShare website is looking to the future. Although another raffle is not currently planned, donations can still be made to V8s for Vocations to raise money for young men to pursue their calling in seminary.
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St. Boniface Catholic Church
When St. Boniface Catholic Church in Waukee, Iowa, a growing parish of over 1,300 families, began to receive parishioner requests to make donations online by credit card into the different church campaigns and funds, parish leaders decided it was time to research some new options.
Making donations without a check and envelope wasn’t new to St. Boniface’s parishioners. Nancy, the business manager, had already implemented a program with their bank giving parishioners the option to donate through a direct electronic withdraw from their checking account. In fact, 20% of families had opted to use this donation method.
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The problem with the program was twofold:
- The parish was limited to only one bank account for all church funds collected.
- The parish was responsible for the security of their parishioners’ bank account data.
So the finance council and parish leaders set out to research possible credit card solution options. They were looking for a solution that would be the most cost effective, the easiest to use, and provide parishioners with the option to make donations with credit cards into multiple church funds.
When Nancy sought advice from St. Boniface’s bank, she discovered the parish would need to open its own Merchant Account to process credit card transactions through the bank.
The problem was that having its own Merchant Account meant the parish would be responsible for data privacy and PCI compliance; managing credit card disputes and charge-backs; paying fees including variable credit card transaction fees, PCI Compliance certification fees, and possible surcharges and taxes; as well as accepting the liability of possible fraudulent transactions. With all of these requirements, parish leaders decided not to become the Merchant of Record and to look for a third-party online giving vendor.
St. Boniface determined it would need to find an online donation tool that would support multiple bank accounts for:
- Different collection funds
- Credit card transactions without assuming ownership of a Merchant Account
Parish leaders started by reviewing a neighboring church’s research on potential online donation vendors. When they recognized LPi on the list, the church’s long- term weekly bulletin publisher, they set out to learn more about LPi’s online donation solution called WeShare.
After viewing a demonstration and evaluating WeShare, Nancy found the solution to be extremely:
- Visually pleasing
- Competitively priced
She also learned of WeShare’s customizable event registration capabilities. With St. Boniface’s dynamic and growing suburban community, she would be able to support its faith formation and social event registration in the same location as she managed donations—saving her both time and money.
Moving onto evaluating other vendors, Nancy discovered they didn’t all:
- Assume ownership of the Merchant Account • Offer multiple bank accounts for different collection funds
- Offer event registration options.
After finalizing its evaluation of numerous online donation solutions, the finance council decided LPi’s WeShare product would be the best fit for their parish. With its existing LPi relationship, St. Boniface knew it could trust LPi to deliver the same excellent customer service St. Boniface had always experienced as an LPi bulletin customer.
After only three months of offering the option to donate online through LPi’s WeShare product, St. Boniface saw a steady increase in monthly online donations. In fact, from its parish kickoff through the third month, it saw an astonishing 61% increase in online donations. Its decision to listen to and support the request from its parishioners for the ability to donate online using credit cards led St. Boniface down a path that literally doubled the financial benefits to the parish.
The ongoing support from LPi through training, technical support, and printed promotional materials, combined with St. Boniface’s commitment to promote WeShare on their website and through e-mail, the parish is continuing to see a significant increases in monthly participation.
“The merchant agreement I think is what really got to us the most,” Nancy said. “This is so in depth and so much we would have to do to set it up and get all the things in place you need for getting your organization approved…We’re not ready for that. We just didn’t have time to think about all that.”
St. Boniface also benefited from some unexpected advantages when it introduced WeShare:
- Not only did the parish solve the credit card need, but it was able to implement an online solution for multiple collection funds and event registration opportunities—a bonus to its initial goal.
- Another unexpected benefit was that one of the recurring online donations that they received is from a parishioner that no longer even lives in the area. “She saw us online and set up a recurring payment so that’s money we would’ve never had.”
- Extremely user-friendly interface for parishioners and staff made it easy for even the least tech-savvy member to use.
- Customizable collections and registration form capabilities provided even more options for online donations than originally planned.
- Including event registration through WeShare helped St. Boniface to fulfill another part of its vision that it hadn’t expected: “An important element of increasing spirituality of lifestyle is by advancing ways that members of the parish can get together in smaller communities.” Creating events and easy sign-up access will help support building those smaller communities within the parish.
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St. Timothy Catholic Church
According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the New Evangelization calls Catholics to deepen and renew their faith and to proclaim the Gospel to others. This provides an opportunity to identify new ways of sharing the timeless messages of Christ.
St. Timothy Catholic Church in Mesa, Arizona, is living the New Evangelization, embracing it as “a call to look for those methods and modes of expression that will best speak to people of our time. What we are saying does not (and cannot) change, but the way in which we say it can and must be adapted so that people today are able to truly receive it. This is what the New Evangelization is all about: a commitment to make Christ known in ways best suited for the modern world.”
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To support this philosophy, the church embraced technology to assist with continuous member engagement and communication. Combining an already strong community foundation with new technology allowed the church to deliver messages in a meaningful way. From sharing homilies on its website to making announcements on Facebook, the church engages members through new channels as well as traditional bulletins and newsletters.
Even with the integration of technology and social media, the church had seen a steady downward trend in their total yearly offertory for the last seven years. Though embracing technology has been exciting for church members and staff, Facebook likes don’t pay the bills. St. Timothy’s business manager, Paula, acknowledged the decline was mainly due to the tough economy, which meant families couldn’t give as much as they once had.
In an unconventional approach, St. Timothy did not offer its 2,700 families an envelope for the weekly offertory collection. Instead, it provided alternatives for members’ convenience:
- As a Merchant of Record through its bank, St. Timothy offered members the choice to donate through direct withdrawal, debit card, or credit card. After parishioners filled out a stewardship card, Paula would enter their personal data into the bank’s website, creating an account that would withdraw the donation from that member’s personal checking account or credit card—a time-consuming manual process along with continual monthly data updates.
- St. Timothy also offered its members the ability to donate through a PayPal link on the church website. PayPal fees are higher than St. Timothy’s bank fees, which made this arrangement less than ideal for the church.
While attempting to make giving easier for parishioners still aligned with New Evangelization, St. Timothy needed something less labor-intensive for parish staff at a lower cost to its bottom line.
St. Timothy has been a print customer of LPi for six years. During a visit from the church’s LPi Stewardship Communication Consultant in early 2012, a discussion turned into a suggestion for Paula to take a look at LPi’s online giving solution that would streamline their offertory collection. After viewing a demo of WeShare, Paula presented the idea of a single online donation solution to St. Timothy’s finance council and parish staff. As long as the fees associated with WeShare were less than PayPal fees, the church would move forward with WeShare. St. Timothy made its final decision to partner with LPi and use WeShare based on cost comparisons and several key benefits:
- LPi assumes ownership of the Merchant Account, giving the church peace of mind while keeping personal parishioner data protected with the highest level of PCI Compliance.
- The donation flexibility with weekly, monthly, or yearly recurring options or one-time payment choices is much more convenient for parishioners than the old system.
- We Share allows parishioners the ability to signup quickly and easily, manage their own accounts, and make changes anytime—freeing up staff time and ensuring personal data remains secure.
Paula said that St. Timothy successfully promoted WeShare during the year and offered talks by its pastor, Father Charlie, on the importance of giving. Sensitive to change and parishioner needs, the church didn’t pull its old donation system. St. Timothy’s wanted to let parishioners make a choice about the best way to give. They responded responded positively to the ease and security WeShare offers, and donations increased 13% in just one year:
- Paula said not having to undertake manual data entry has been a huge benefit to her and another staff member, saving hours each month. As the parish’s financial administrator, she used to have to collect, enter, and store parishioners’ financial data, something she was uncomfortable doing because of the possibilities of loss or theft. “With WeShare, I don’t have to do anything. I just enter the money. I love it!”
- Paula has heard from many parishioners about how they love the flexibility WeShare provides, as well as e-mail reminders telling them when their donations are scheduled and processed. “They love that they can make changes to their giving levels on their own terms. That flexibility is really important to them.”
- Paula mentioned she and others are relieved that LPI’s strict adherence to top PCI Compliance standards means parishioners’ personal data is safe:
- Paula said that parishioners who set up recurring donations greatly appreciate having three withdrawal dates to choose from, as opposed to just a single set date in the old system.
- St. Timothy saves money over its previous PayPal fees while still offering a convenient donation process for parishioners.
- Those parishioners who contact the church with questions, such as how to change their password, can get them answered quickly and easily by a staff member.
- Through the parish staff’s hard work promoting WeShare, 70% of parishioners now use WeShare, moving the church closer to its goal of eventually eliminating its old system.
“Security is a big load off my mind. It was bothersome to me that we had to store credit card numbers and checks until they could be processed, but now we have none of those worries. The data is stored safely in the system and is accessible only by the parishioner.”
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