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Donations, and Eyeballs, Online

Dear Fr. Zagloba,

So I spent a little time over the weekend thinking about new ways that we can promote giving at the parish. Something jumped out at me like, duh, of course. Online giving. I looked at the website for the parish, which is terrible by the way, but I think you know that. I realized that the parish doesn't have any way to take online gifts. More importantly, there's no way for people to sign up for monthly recurring gifts from their credit card or checking account. Now this may not seem like a huge deal, but I think this is a major opportunity.

Meet your donors where they're at!

I did a little bit of research, and it turns out that encouraging online giving can increase the monthly offertory by anywhere from 10-30%. Why is that? The research pointed out that the people who are giving want to give. But they forget. Or they go to another church for a wedding. Or they go out on vacation, especially during the summer. As a result, they typically only give on 40-45 out of 52 Sundays a year.

Online giving changes that. They are able to make their decision once, and have their good intentions automatically carried out for the rest of the year. People do the same thing with the utility bills. I think the only checks that I write any more are my rent check and my weekly offering. Every Sunday it's always a bit dicey. I have to find my checkbook and write a check while trying to find clean shoes and put them on a two and four-year-old. So if we can get it set up, I'll be one of the first to enroll.

If you build it, they won't come.

Also, it's not enough to just add online giving functionality to the website. Our website doesn't get much in the way of traffic… when was the last time you visited it? I think Carmen may be the only person who uses it regularly, and that's because she's responsible for updating it. Really what we need is a plan to promote the online giving that is low impact and repeats itself over and over.

I suggest a few easy elements that will continue once we put them in place.

  1. We can put a link with a button on the webpage, something eye-catching, like maybe something that says 'tithe today'.
  2. Then we'll add a blurb to the bulletin that has that same 'tithe today' button and a brief explanation of the fact that we can now accept online giving.
  3. At least for a couple of months, you need to mention the availability of online giving during the announcements after mass. Not an ask, mind you, simply the statement, "You can now make your monthly tithe payment through recurring online donations."
  4. And finally, I think you should add a 'online giving' column to the weekly offertory report in the bulletin. Nothing motivates people to give like seeing other people giving.

What's in the basket?

I know that there will be some people who will say, "But I'll feel bad if I don't put something in the basket during the offertory." That's ok. You can reassure them that we will continue to pass the collection basket and they are more than welcome to give that way. What we're doing is providing a convenient way to give for people who are not particularly attached to the basket.

Or you could suggest doing what my wife and I are doing. I bring $1 bills to give to each of my sons so I can teach them the importance of giving to the church. But the convenience of having my monthly gift pulled out of checking, especially as a distracted parent, is priceless. It's more convenient, and I would have given MORE than I actually gave. I'm doing my taxes right now, and I realized looking at my gift receipt from St. Catherine's that I personally would have given 10% more if I had given through a monthly recurring gift.

With your permission, I'll start working with Carmen on getting this up and running.



The Almoner

P.S. Letting people know that the church can accept online gifts does not get you off the hook for actually preaching on the importance of tithing. They mutually support each other, but they are two distinct and important activities.

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