It’s important for you to think about donor acquisition (DA for short) for your offertory. It’s likely that the DA in your parish is running on auto pilot, because that is the default setting. It’s what happens if you’re not doing anything intentionally.
I’m going to talk about donor acquisitions as a series of levels that you can ascend. You can mix and match different approaches, but they all have a central theme – asking for donations consistently and compellingly.
Level 1 – Offertory Autopilot – The offertory basket gets passed around at Mass, and the collection is brought up to the altar with the rest of the gifts. In this state, your DA program has a pulse, but it’s not doing much.
Level 2 – Donation Envelopes – Companies like Our Sunday Visitor can be brought in provide pre-printed envelopes that get mailed to every registered parishioner. This is similar to enrolling them into a direct mail program, although you don’t have to spend as much money on postage.
Level 3 – Online Monthly Giving – Connect your parish to the internet and begin to tell people to give monthly recurring donations online. This reaches out to younger parishioners who may not give regularly or at all, as well as increasing the average annual giving from current donors (a form of donor cultivation)
Level 4 – Talking About Giving – Actively communicating to your parish about your offertory collection makes a difference. You might mention it during the announcements, or include it in the bulletin. You’re very simply stating that donating to the Church is a good thing, and that people can give various ways.
Level 5 – Preaching about Tithing – Tithing is virtuous. Preach about it. Talk about the multitude of promises that God makes to those who give to the Church and to the poor. Help people to understand that their giving to the Church is actually an act of worship, a spiritual act that will bear good fruit in their lives.
Level 6 – Annual Stewardship Campaign – A focused period of talking about stewardship and giving with a general ask to the parish with pledge cards at the end. Campaigns can be as complicated or as simple as you want them to be. They effectively bring in new donors, as well as get them more involved in the Church. This is a big enough topic that it has its own section here.
One step at a time
You’ll notice that every level will require greater investment of time and resources on your part. Think about what you have and then make some strategic investments. Moving from level one to level 3 doesn’t require a huge investment in time and money, but it can make a big difference on the number of parishioners who are actively giving. Getting all the way to level six might seem impossible, but no doubt you can preach on tithing once in a while and announce your new online giving option.
Find the strategies that fit your parish and then implement them consistently. Asking consistently, and in the right spirit, can make all the difference in the world.