How to Move from 1950s Giving to 21st Century Giving

January 2, 2020  •   LPi

Person holding cellphone and credit card over computer

Parishes are busy. Like really, really busy. And so the job of analyzing results from parish campaigns and parishioner giving patterns are often an afterthought. Staff typically end up just doing what they did last year because “that’s the way it’s always been done.” And that’s the biggest trap when it comes to parish giving. Just because it’s worked in the past, doesn’t necessarily mean it will work in the future. Never has this been truer than when it comes to parish tithing.

Identify What Needs to Change

Parishioner envelopes have been around for decades. And while it’s true that many still use them to give to the parish, they are not the only way that people are giving to the church. Increasingly, people are choosing to give online or through their phones simply because it’s easier. And if you’re a parish that doesn’t offer this electronic option, you’re definitely missing out on some key donations.

According to Church and Religious Charitable Giving Statistics, 60 percent are willing to give to their church digitally. And that number is only going to increase as younger generations grow up. They’re used to the ease and security of online giving, and if it’s not available, many simply won’t make the effort to give consistently.

And so we can’t rely primarily on checks and envelopes to fund essential ministries or community outreach and to keep the lights on in the parish. We need to expand our vehicles and make it easier for all to give.

Research the Best Ways to Change

Not all online giving options are created equal. You’ll want to research various platforms and the features they offer in order to find one that fits. And not only that, but find a platform that gives you the training you’ll need to keep it at the forefront of your members. LPi’s online giving platform, WeShare, comes with a free marketing campaign for its customers. Parishes are invited to join the WeShare Engagement Campaign, where consistent email and postcard communication, pew cards, posters, bulletin inserts, and more are used to invite parishioners to give online.

When researching online giving platforms, you’ll want to look at a variety of aspects. Is the giving page clean and easy to use, with minimal steps involved? Can people give via mobile, web, and text? Does it easily collect donor info and allow you as an administrator to use it? What about the standard fees? All of these questions must be asked when figuring out the best platform for your church.

Spread the Word … the Right Way

So you figured out what needed to change, you researched the ways to change it, and finally made the plunge. Now what? Unfortunately, that was just the beginning of the process. You now need to tell parishioners, and remind them multiple times, that there is a new way to give. And this might be tricky for some parishes that haven’t used this type of technology before. Are your parishioners ready for it?

Be sure to send out consistent messages about new technology in your parish. Just because you make one announcement before Mass, and include some copy in your bulletin a couple times a month, doesn’t mean that it will get to the right people. Oftentimes, it takes regular asking before someone makes the decision to switch from a regular or even no routine.

No matter what new technology you decide on, there will always be some old school parishioners who prefer to keep giving with checks or cash. And that’s totally OK! When making a request for members to join the parish online, be sure to remind them that no matter what, donations of any size — and however collected — is warmly appreciated.

Has your parish recently made the switch to online giving? What was the response?

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