Online Offertory

By | May 22, 2017

Your parish can get a significant boost in revenue by soliciting offertory gifts through online, recurring donations. If your parish is not already doing this, you’re certainly familiar with the concept. Instead of putting a cash or check in the basket each week, people sign up to have their monthly gift charged to a credit card or drafted right from their checking account.

In fundraising, as in sales, the more barriers you can remove from the process, the better. Most of your parish is probably doing some kind of monthly online bill pay for their phone, utilities, or mortgage. Why? Because it’s easy! They can make the decision to pay their bill once, and then they only have to worry about it when they get a new credit card.

Make giving easy.

People are busy. And your parishioners normally only attend 40-45 masses at your parish a year. They get sick, they go out-of-town, they go to other parishes for baptisms and weddings… But that doesn’t mean that they don’t want to give. Provide an easy way for them to give through online recurring donations, and you can expect their total annual giving to increase proportionally.

Thanks to mega-companies like Amazon, people are very comfortable with making payments online. It’s a convenient and (now) trustworthy manner to transfer money. Many parishes already have the option to do online giving through their business management software (Parishsoft has this capability built-in), but it has to be turned on.

Once you have the capacity to make online gifts, you have to tell people about it. Put a “Tithe Today” button on your website. Insert the button (yes, the exact same graphic – design it to look good both places) with a little explanation of online giving to the bulletin. Tell people about it during the announcements at the end of mass. Donations will start to increase steadily even with these simple reminders.

Follow-up is key.

Once you jump into online giving, it’s important to have a system in place for following up with parishioners. You will need to run a monthly report to see whose credit cards are going to expire. You need a process in place to follow-up with people whose donation method will expire (or has expired) and a way to make it easy for them to renew their commitment.

Renewal is also a great opportunity to upgrade their monthly donation. If you have the capability (and if you don’t, you should talk to your web provider to find out how) you email them with a live link that offers people a range of at least three possible donations, starting with their current donation and increasing by increments of 10-15% per step. Put the highest donation amount in the position that they’ll see first. Also, give them the ‘other’ option.

Send renewal notices starting at least 2 months prior to the expiration date on the account, and continue each month until they either complete the recurring donation, or several months have passed the expiration date. You’ll need to decide how long you want to encourage people to renew before you stop sending reminders. Consider two months ahead of the expiration and two months after a minimum.

This doesn’t have to entirely replace your old offertory system. If people want to give through checks, that’s fine. Make that clear when you’re starting the marketing for online giving. What you’re doing is making a new and easy way to give available to people who would like to use it. Many will, and they’ll thank you for it.

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