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Author: Daniel Babcock

June 20th is National eGiving Day

The first day of summer – June 20 – is National eGiving Day.

Most churches see their offertory decline during the summer by close to 10% according to estimates. Here are five reasons why Faith Direct is the best program to bring you consistent church offertory so your church can weather summer’s budget strains:

  • COST: Our pricing is equitable, with a flat managed fee for the life of the program. Unlike many providers, we don’t make your church pay more when people give more.
  • SERVICE: FD_NeGDayJune20_v1px150Faith Direct is full-service – we handle everything from enrollment to processing to program management, so your church staff doesn’t have to do all the work.
  • CUSTOMER CARE: We offer a strong customer service program. If your members have questions, Faith Direct agents are available via phone, email or online chat.
  • SECURITY: We protect the church from liability and security risks. You won’t be left holding the bag if there’s a security breach.
  • MARKETING: Faith Direct helps churches implement a personalized, multi-channel plan that inspires members to sign up. The more people know about your program, the more likely they are to use it – and the most consistent your offertory will be.

Let us help your church achieve consistent offertory during the summer and throughout the year, so your missions and ministries will be even stronger.

LEARN MORE TODAY!

The Church Donors Have Spoken: 2016 eGiving Survey Results

How important is information security? Are checks on the way out? How well is Faith Direct doing?

We asked and you answered.

Over 2,600 Faith Direct users took the 2016 eGiving Survey and provided some interesting answers. Thanks to those who took the survey, Faith Direct can use this feedback to provide a better service to our customers and plan for the future of eGiving. Some of the answers were surprising while others were to be expected (of course our Customer Care team is excellent!). Read below to see the full breakdown.

Survey Results

An overwhelming majority would not prefer to have their offertory donations automatically increase every year.
Faith Direct found that church members prefer to have complete control over how much they give. Although an automatic yearly increase could be convenient for some, on the whole donors reported they would rather not use such an option. The good news is that with an online account, donors still have full control over how much–and how often–they give to their churches.

 

We have always thought the Faith Direct Customer Care team was great. It’s nice to know that you do, too!
The Faith Direct Customer Care team is available Monday-Friday from 8:30 AM-5:30 PM ET over phone, email, and online chat. 95% of users that contacted the Faith Direct Customer Care team rated their experience as Excellent or Good. We hope to be able to use survey results like these to improve the experience of all of our users (but especially that other 5%).
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Satisfaction is pretty high with our current option of two debit days per month.
Faith Direct offers two debit dates to eGiving donors so that members can choose whether to have their accounts debited on the 4th of the month, the 15th of the month, or both. Our hope is to make eGiving easy and convenient for church members so that they–and the churches to which they belong–can better plan financially.

 

Are checks going away any time soon? About half of those who responded think so, but the other half say checks are here to stay.
Even though it seems that we are living our lives more and more online, 47% of Faith Direct customers that responded to the survey believe that check donations will always be an important source of church collections. Of the 53% that do see eGiving replacing checks in the future, there is little consensus on how long that will take. This is a question that Faith Direct has been asking for a while and one to keep an eye on as time goes by.

 

Information security is something our users take seriously, as nearly 60% would not support their church if sensitive financial data were being managed by church staff.
Identity protection and information security have become increasingly important in our day to day lives. Protecting sensitive information is a big responsibility for everyone and is one of the core priorities for Faith Direct. We maintain the highest levels of security so church members can rest easy knowing their information is safe and church staff have one less thing to worry about.

2016 Lenten Email Challenge

Fast. Pray. Give Up Envelopes.

Every Lenten season, Christians are called to renew spiritual practices like fasting, praying and almsgiving. In keeping with the tradition of almsgiving and with Pope Francis’ renewed call for environmental responsibility, Faith Direct was proud to start the annual Lenten Challenge. The Lenten Challenge encourages church members to not only continue supporting their churches, but to do so simply and electronically. eGiving cuts the cost of printing and mailing offertory envelopes and reduces household waste.

While not everyone is expected to go paperless (though there are a few Faith Direct member churches who have taken that challenge), the benefits of eGiving are hard to miss. Here are the results of this year’s challenge:

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Even though the Lenten season has come to a close, you can still encourage your members to enroll in online eGiving–both for their convenience and for yours!

Credit Card Declines Are Hurting Your Offertory

Is your eGiving provider properly managing credit card declines and expirations?

Credit cards are an essential part of eGiving – it’s an option that people appreciate, and those who give via credit card have higher average gifts. But our research shows that many churches do not have a plan to manage this critical source of income.

Here’s some reliable Faith Direct data to show you what a big financial loss this can be:

About 2.5% of credit card donations made through Faith Direct will be declined in any given transaction period. Church members give on average $31 for weekly offertory. So if a church with 250 credit card eGivers is averaging a loss of 2.5% because of credit card declines, they could be missing at least $10,000 a year in gifts that would otherwise be received.

Declines can happen for a variety of reasons – from outdated information or an expired card to insufficient funds in an account. Here are five things to consider as you confront this problem:
  • Who is responsible for decline notifications? Is this something your eGiving program manages, or are you responsible for letting eGivers know that their payments didn’t go through?
  • How quickly are users notified? The sooner eGivers know there’s a problem with a donation, the quicker they can fix the problem and make their giving current.
  • How are they being notified? Email alone isn’t enough – your program should send out both emails and letters letting eGivers know when a transaction is declined.
  • Are donors being notified of an expiring card in advance? The more proactive you can be in letting people know that their card on file is about to expire, the better chance they’ll have of updating their information before a decline happens.
  • What happens if someone does not respond to initial decline requests? Your eGiving program should have a consistent strategy for a follow-up plan to make sure eGivers know about the problem and have plenty of time to fix it.

Declined transactions don’t have to result in a decline in your offertory. If your eGiving program has a comprehensive strategy for dealing with declines and keeping members on their giving schedules, your offertory will stabilize providing your church with the consistent cash flow needed to operate your church and ministries.

Customer Care is Critical to eGiving Success

eGiving is quickly eclipsing check writing for Church Support. As church members frequently have questions about eGiving and their gifts, your program must have the staff or resources to provide immediate answers. A responsive, knowledgeable customer service team lets members know that their eGiving gifts to the church are in good hands, and that you care about their individual questions and concerns.Jack2

We spoke with Jack Emerson, Faith Direct’s Customer Service Manager, about the ins-and-outs of great eGiving customer service:

What do you think is the biggest customer service mistake that eGiving programs make?

I would say limiting the ways that people can contact you. It’s very important to give your members options. In addition to a phone number, your customer service program should also include channels such as a dedicated email address and a live online chat option.

Do different demographics within a church community seem to be more comfortable with certain customer service options?

In our experience, we’ve found that older individuals prefer to call in with their questions while younger individuals seem to prefer emailing their questions or using the online chat function. Regardless of age, members have indicated that they appreciate the option of being able to speak with someone on the phone.

What are the most important attributes of a good customer service representative?

I think it’s threefold: First, representatives should be prompt – whether it’s quickly answering the phone or responding right away to email or chat questions. Second, they must be knowledgeable about how the eGiving program works and what options exist, so they can answer questions with confidence. Third, they must be thoughtful and courteous, so members will always feel comfortable reaching out with any questions they may have.

Which issues do members contact customer service about the most?

It runs the gamut from changing their giving amounts or adding a special gift, to updating their bank or credit card information, and everything in between. People have questions about security, too – they want to know that their eGiving provider is handling their personal information in a secure way. There’s no question or concern too big or small for a great customer service program.

The stronger you can make your customer care network, the better your eGiving program will be for your church. Make a point this month of going over the service options your program provides, and making sure that your members’ questions can be answered quickly and knowledgeably.

Is your church ready for a weekend snowstorm?

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Meet Father Donald Fest, S.S.J., Pastor of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Alexandria, VA, which started using Faith Direct just two years ago and now has 65% of donating households using eGiving.

Fr. Fest recalls: “I would say that during these weekend storms, the collection just bottomed out, Offertory decreased by 80%, because everyone was giving by check or cash, and they did not think or make the conscious, intentional effort to make up for their missed weeks’ of offertory… This can be very disruptive to our Offertory levels. Faith Direct eliminates that problem and disruption.”

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Since 2003, Faith Direct has helped hundreds of churches nation-wide implement an eGiving program that increases offertory… provides a steady, predictable cash flow… and generates more resources for vital outreach and assistance programs. With over $175 Million collected in 2015 for churches nationwide Faith Direct is the leader in complete eGiving solutions.

Fr. Fest adds: “Faith Direct helps people budget their giving, and follow through on that budget. If the church member is a ‘one-check-per-week’ giver, their giving will be entirely dependent on their attendance, rather than their actual budgeted commitment. Faith Direct enables members to follow through on their commitments.”

Faith Direct offers the only comprehensive full service program to transition your envelope system into an eGiving program that provides consistency regardless of the weather.

Do you need another for a reason to contact us for a meeting? How about three:

  • 40% of Faith Direct’s new church clients in 2015 used a competitive eGiving program.
  • Faith Direct’s flat fee model provides tremendous cost savings to our churches.
  • Faith Direct’s communication strategy not only leads to higher eGiving participation but serves as an annual Stewardship or offertory increase plan!

To learn how Faith Direct can help your church click here to arrange a meeting with one of our representatives.

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5 eGiving Questions for 2016

Consider this: Two members of your church make their offertory gifts via eGiving. One gives $25, while the other gives $60. With a transaction-based eGiving provider, you would actually be required to pay more for the larger gift – even though the eGiving company isn’t really doing more work for that gift.

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As your church welcomes 2016, you should resolve to not overpay for your eGiving program. If you are currently using, or hearing sales pitches from, transaction-based eGiving providers, here are five questions you should be asking yourself:

  1. Generosity that materializes and grows over a period time is a culmination of reflection – an increased awareness of the need to give back to God, and recognition by individuals and families that your church is an effective instrument of God’s work. Why should any eGiving firm get to share in this recognition by being paid more?
  2. Do you think that members of your church would be happy with the fact that, the more generous they are, the more money your eGiving provider receives?
  3. Beyond processing donations, what practical steps and services do transaction-based eGiving providers include in their platform to merit a higher fee month to month?
  4. Is the fee your church pays to your eGiving provider predetermined month to month – or are you paying your provider a larger commission as participation in your program grows?
  5. How much money will your eGiving company be making when 80% of your donations are eventually processed electronically – the current forecast for most churches?

As you review your eGiving program in 2016, make sure that your church is receiving the most equitable fee structure possible – one in which your costs don’t fluctuate from month-to-month, and that doesn’t charge you more when your church family gives more.

a Minute for Giving Tuesday…

On this Giving Tuesday, we celebrate the generosity of the faithful. It’s likely your members are making charitable gifts today and their donations may include your church. We would like to share some thoughts on equitable fee structures for church eGiving… it will only take a minute!

Consider this scenario:

Maria G. and Bill K. have been longtime active members at St. Joseph Catholic Church.
Maria G. donates $20 per week electronically to offertory.
Bill K. gives $50 per week electronically to offertory.

  • Should St. Joseph’s be required to pay more for Bill’s gift?
  • Is the eGiving company, actually doing more work for Bill’s offertory donation as compared to Maria’s?


Consider fee arrangements that many churches like St. Joseph’s have with transaction-based eGiving providers – I hope you will reflect on the following questions:

  • Do your members realize that the more generous they are, the higher the payment is for your eGiving provider?
  • Generosity that materializes and grows over a period time is a culmination of reflection; an increased awareness towards the need to give back to God, and recognition from members that belong to the church. Why should any eGiving firm get to share in this recognition by being paid more?
  • How much money will the eGiving company St. Joseph’s is using be making when 80% of their donations are eventually processed electronically?
  • Beyond processing donations, what practical steps and services do transaction-based eGiving providers include in their platform, to merit a higher fee month to month?


Since 2004, Faith Direct has maintained that a flat fee payment model, for the life of the eGiving program, is a more equitable fee arrangement for the churches we serve.

On this Giving Tuesday we encourage all churches not only to consider what is given, but what you are paying to receive each gift. Please give us the opportunity to review your eGiving cost structure and share what Faith Direct can do for your church in return.

Happy Giving Tuesday!

Are You Ready for Year-End Giving?

Starting with #GivingTuesday and rolling through New Year’s Eve, December is a critical month for your church’s ministries. It is estimated that charities, on average, receive 40% of their annual contributions in the final weeks of the year – and especially for church members, Christmas is the season of giving.

Faith Direct can share that:

  • Over half of year-end donations were made in the last week of the year.
  • 20% of these year-end gifts made on December 31.
  • The average year-end donation amount was $286.

Is your church ready to accept this generosity?

There are three questions you should ask yourself as church members prepare to make their year-end gifts:

  • Does my church offer flexibility in giving? Church offices aren’t always open when people feel inspired to give – especially during holidays, when offices could have limited hours. Make sure you have a Giving program that allows parishioners to give what they want, when they want, whenever they are inspired by a specific ministry or need.
  • Does our church let people choose the best way to give? Not every parishioner wants to drop a check off at the church. With a strong eGiving program you can give users multiple ways to make their gift: whether it’s online, by paper reply, over the phone, or with a smartphone app – and whether they want to use a checking account or credit card.
  • Do you empower church members to give with confidence? Donors making last-minute offerings (especially large gifts) want to be sure their gift is handled properly, securely and attributed to the appropriate tax year.

Before the year-end rush hits, make sure you have an eGiving program that simplifies donations for your parishioners, so they are able to give their full support to your important ministries.

International Catholic Stewardship Conference

Faith Direct is happy to be an exhibitor at the International Catholic Stewardship Conference in Chicago, IL.

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Come and see us at Booth #330!

In addition, Faith Direct’s President, Brian Walsh, will be leading Session 13 on Friday, October 23rd at 11:00am:

Social Media and Apps: Essential Tools to Enhance Your eGiving and Events Ministries

It’s not enough for a parish to just have an eGiving program – parishioners need to know about it. Beyond traditional promotional methods like direct mail and email, learn how “new” essential tools like Facebook and Apps can play a critical role in building your eGiving participation.  Hear from an experienced eGiving expert on practical social media strategies your church can use to raise awareness of your eGiving program.  Parish examples that have encouraged church families to sign up for their stewardship support and events registration will be shared.

To learn more about the International Catholic Stewardship Conference and the wonderful work being done by The International Catholic Stewardship Council, visit their website here – https://catholicstewardship.com/.