Today more than ever, parishes are becoming increasingly more aware of the importance of utilizing online giving. Not only does it save hours on the time spent counting, recording, and reporting the Sunday collection, but it also helps maintain a more steady flow of donations during a time when giving is often unpredictable.
Recurring giving is one of the best ways to ensure that your church ministries will be funded and your lights kept on. But according to statistics, only a small percentage actually make the commitment to have their gifts automatically deducted from their checking or savings account. While there are a multitude of reasons why this is, there are a few ways parish leaders can come together to push past these hurdles and encourage parishioners to becoming regular donors.
Help With Their Finances
According to 2018 Charitable Giving Statistics, 8 out of 10 people who give to churches have zero credit debt, which makes sense. When cash flow is steady, people are more apt to give to church or charity. So in order to get people to that place, giving them the tools to become debt free is a huge help.
Many parishes do this by partnering with a faith-based money management program that they then offer to their parishioners for free. Some of these programs include: Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, where people learn to pay off debt, budget, and give generously; Bible Money Matters, where people learn the steps necessary to save money and invest for the long term; and Crown, where millions of people learn to find financial freedom, thrive in their careers, and live a purposeful life.
The purpose of holding these types of classes is two-fold: not only do you help your parishioners understand the basics of finances that many of us struggle to comprehend, but they also help them understand how important it is to be intentional with our money, and to be good stewards of all that God gives to us. Additionally, when there are groups of people meeting together with a common goal in sight, it allows for a comradery that helps keep the momentum going.
Teach Them to See the “Bigger Picture”
Giving to the parish is more than just an envelope each week. It’s about making a commitment to a faith community that is rooted in the teachings of Jesus Christ. It’s about taking part in the sacraments on a regular basis, helping outside in the community through essential social ministries, and being part of a support system to fellow parishioners. It’s about weekend community dinners, fun festivals, volunteering to make the church beautiful through decoration and cleanup, and stuffing the bulletins on days that the secretary needs assistance. With that being said, a great way for people to feel a commitment to the parish is to have them actually make one.
Another striking statistic from the 2018 Charitable Giving Statistics is that only 3 to 5% of Americans who give to their local church do so through regular tithing. One way to increase this number is by asking members to make a yearly pledge. Through prayer and contemplation on what their fair share is, they can come up with a way to commit to the parish in a more tangible way.
Some families are shocked once they figure out that their $10 a week donation only comes out to a little more than $500 for the year. By coming up with an annual figure, and then reverse engineering to see how much that comes out to on a monthly or weekly basis, it’ll help them see that they are really a part of the faith community, and that their contribution matters. WeShare, an online giving platform, has a great pledge figure that includes a diagram people can view to see how close they are to their annual goal and to make adjustments as needed.
Remind Them — and Then Remind Them Again
Typically when a parish launches its online giving platform, there is a big push to get people to sign up, but not so much to become recurring givers. Not only does this need to change to focus more on the aspect of giving regularly, but it also needs to be communicated on a regular basis. Think a regular spot in the weekly bulletin with the link to sign up, posters in the common areas, pew cards with a link and reasons why recurring giving helps the parish, and regular messages before and after Mass from the pulpit.
Last year, WeShare launched an Engagement Campaign that, through regular email and postcard communications to parishioners, increased recurring giving three-fold. A mere four times a year reminder for people to become regular givers, or a reminder to check their weekly/monthly donations to adjust accordingly, was all it took for parishes to become more steady in their bottom line.