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5 Strategies to Increase Your Parish’s Year-End Donations

The end of the year is quickly approaching – is your parish ready to welcome generous gifts from your parish families to close out 2021? Whether people are feeling the generosity of the Christmas season or looking for final tax-deductible gifts before tax time, the last weeks of the year can bring an outpouring of support for your parish ministries. And there are steps you can take now to increase the year-end donations your parish receives as 2021 draws to a close.

Here are five strategies you can incorporate now to build engagement among your parishioners and spark increased support for the ministries that mean the most to your parish and your community:

1. Make Online Giving Easy for Your Church Families

If your parishioners and donors have to search around your website and toggle here-and-there to find your giving page, they may give up instead. Make it obvious: Have a “Give” or “Make Donation” button prominently placed at the top of all pages. This button will lead to your donation page—make sure it is updated and optimized to reinforce the specific impact of year-end giving. You can provide suggested donation amounts, recurring gift opportunities and “in memory/honor of” options. (This applies to your year-end emails as well—include a “Give” or “Make Donation” button prominently that takes the email recipients automatically to the year-end-themed donation form.)

2. Provide Your Donors with the Giving Options They Value

In order to raise the largest possible amount of money for your parish, provide your donors with a chance to give in the way they are most comfortable. And remember, what might be the ideal way to give for one age group might be least convenient for another age group. By providing several different ways to give, you are giving your parish the best possible chance of receiving a donation from all parishioners, and strengthening your most important ministries.

Of course you want to encourage donations via your main website, as discussed above—but make sure to go beyond that. Think text-to-give options and app-based giving that appeals to younger parishioners; utilizing these channels can help you build a broader base of support for your ministries. And what about “traditional” donors who want to give via check? If they give in

person, use that engagement as a way to introduce them to the efficiency and security of online and recurring giving, and mention the benefits to the church as well (more secure, easier to process, more consistent). Hearing this from you or your church staff can inspire them to make the switch.

3. Capitalize on Your Social Media Presence

Those who follow your parish on social media, want to see your ministries succeed—so it makes sense to reach out for support via Facebook and similar channels. You can adapt your year-end materials, such as emails and website copy, for social media posts, with a link to your year-end giving page.

Social media also gives you opportunities to use videos, photos, and similar content that shows your parish’s good works. A link to a story about someone who was positively impacted by parishioners’ generous donations, or a testimonial from someone whose life was changed through parish ministries, goes a long way in displaying the impact of donations.

This is a great forum to test out requests for smaller donations—a $5 or $10 year-end gift via social media can be the start of lasting generosity, and it’s also an opportunity to encourage your supporters to make a small gift a recurring one.

4. Focus on WHY to Give, Not Just How

Website buttons and dedicated URLs are essential to a successful campaign, but your year-end giving appeals will really thrive if they’re built on compelling, inspiring content—stories of great impact from the 2021, groups or individuals who have benefited from the parish’s ministries, or specific religious education events including VBS that have educated youth about God and his unending love for each one of us.

People want to know that when they give, their dollars will make a meaningful difference. The most you can illustrate this, the more generous and joyful your parishioners will be in their year-end giving—and the more stories of transformative impact you’ll have to tell at the end of 2022!

5. Keep Your Year-End Focus Through the Very End of the Year

In past years, as much as 10% of all giving for Faith Direct parishes has occurred in the last three days of the year. The Christmas season is hectic, and between December 29-31 many parishioners will be scrambling to make their last-minute charitable gifts at year’s end.

During these critical days, make sure to ask your supporters for their last-minute donations—send text message to those donors for whom you have a valid mobile phone number, and/or emails to your list (forwarding a previous email, from a different sender, is a simple way to grab attention). And don’t forget to post to your social media pages with final appeals for support. These three final days of the year can greatly strengthen your ministries for all of 2022, if you stay engaged with your church families and inspire them to give.

Never Miss an Opportunity to Strengthen Your Ministries

Are you looking to strengthen your online giving, so your parish can maximize every opportunity to build lasting support for your most powerful ministries? The Faith Direct team is eager to talk with you about how we are helping parishes throughout the country with engagement, success and growth—and how we can help you too! Connect with us here to online giving built for your parish through Faith Direct.

The Bottom Line: Five Questions to Ask about the Cost of eGiving

Let’s talk about pricing…

Many eGiving programs attract parishes by offering a seemingly low upfront cost structure. This is a classic marketing strategy – getting people in the door with a low price. It might be good marketing, but it’s not necessarily good for churches. Parishes that buy into an eGiving service with lower upfront pricing can quickly find their costs escalating as more people use the program. And “basic” services can burden front-office staff with extra, time-consuming tasks.

eGiving is a long-term process, so it’s important to think of your costs that way as well. Here are five questions to ask as you consider the true overall costs of a successful eGiving program:

1. Is the pricing structure a flat fee, or is it percentage-based?

Flat-fee pricing means your parish’s costs will remain consistent, month after month. Under a percentage-based plan that’s tied to the amount of your monthly offertory, your parish’s costs will increase as more of your members sign up for eGiving – having the perverse effect of costing your parish more if your members are inspired to support key ministries by signing up for eGiving. The last thing parishes need is to to be punished as their eGiving program grows – but that’s what happens under percentage-based fee structures.

2. How much time will your church staff be required to spend maintaining and managing your eGiving platform? 

In general, eGiving saves time for your front-office staff because they don’t have to spend so many hours processing individual checks and documenting and safely handling cash offerings (and this makes your offertory more secure as well) – but just how much time your parish can save depends on the platform you chose. If a program makes your team responsible for time-consuming tasks like updating payment and credit card information, dealing with declined transactions, and tracking card expirations, you will need to consider that in your overall staffing and budget calculations.  A full-service program like Faith Direct will take this burden off your parish staff, allowing them to dedicate more time directly to ministries and programs.

3. Does the eGiving provider offer dedicated customer care for the parish?

Your parish will inevitably have questions about implementing and managing your eGiving program – and some church members will likely need help with enrollment and account management. Will the eGiving provider you choose be there with the answers you need? Faith Direct assigns a church success manager to every parish, ensuring a direct resource for questions related to the program, communication strategies, and reporting – and we also offer dedicated email and phone customer service for parishioners who need help. If a program requires your church staff to figure out how eGiving works and field questions from members, that’s more time your team will have to spend on administrative tasks – and less time to focus on ministries.

4. Do the programs you are considering have strategies to help your parish with marketing and promoting eGiving?

It’s not enough for a parish to simply offer an eGiving option – parishioners need to know the option exists, and they need to be informed of why recurring, automatic gifts are especially helpful in sustaining and expanding important ministries. If promoting eGiving falls to the parish, that’s even more time required for your busy front-office staff – and again, that translates to less time your staff can dedicate to ministries. Faith Direct offers tested marketing materials customized with each parish’s branding, because we want parishes to success and because we’ve learned that church members respond more enthusiastically to an eGiving option that truly reflects the parish’s identify and overall mission. If such resources aren’t available to the parish – or if they drive up your cost – your parish will pay, one way or the other.

5. Are special features that will enhance your parish offertory and church operations included in the eGiving program’s cost?

As church members grow more tech savvy and use digital tools to handle everything from supporting causes they love to buying groceries and making dinner reservations (especially after COVID-19 has forced everyone to go “contactless”), they will expect such flexibility from your eGiving platform. Some providers do not offer such added services at all, while others only offer enhancements as “add-ons” or “upgrades” that will increase your costs. Faith Direct includes features like text-to-give and event registration as part of our overall platform – it’s important to know exactly what’s included in any pricing given to you by potential eGiving providers. eGiving is an investment for your parish that’s geared towards consistency and long-term growth to sustain your church ministries, and it’s important to take a “big picture” look at how a program’s cost structure will impact your parish now and in the future. If you have specific questions about Faith Direct’s flat-fee cost structure, why it’s more beneficial and equitable for parishes, and the services features included in the cost, visit www.faithdirect.net.

How Faith Direct Simplifies the Transition to Your New Program

If you have an eGiving option already in place for your parish, changing course and asking your parishioners to switch over to a new service can seem like a daunting task – but it doesn’t have to be! And it definitely shouldn’t stop you from making changes that can strengthen your offertory and build deeper long-term support for your parish ministries.

Faith Direct has more than fifteen years of experience in helping parishes navigate this process, and in fact some 70% of our new parish clients have used a competitive program or bank service. Our team has identified three proven strategies for simplifying the transition from an existing service to the Faith Direct platform. Here’s how we help parishes make the switch:

We do the legwork to make the transition easy for your existing eGivers

When a new parish with a legacy program joins Faith Direct, we proactively create new user accounts and temporary passwords for your current donors, so they can quickly sign in with Faith Direct and set up their giving with us. Parishes tell us that this is has a major impact in helping people make the switch – when parishioners know that much of the work is already done for them, they’re less apprehensive about taking the initiative and updating their giving.

We offer dedicated customer service to help current givers who have questions about how Faith Direct works and what they need to do to switch over

Parishioners will inevitably have some questions about a new program – and the easier it is for them to get answers, the more confident they will be that this is a sensible change for the church. Faith Direct’s customer service agents are available via phone and email to field questions about giving options, payment methods, security concerns, and other topics that may arise as a parish transitions to our platform – and each parish is assigned a church success team to help the front office staff implement the new program and address any direct questions from parishioners.

We provide customized marketing materials that help churches get the word out about how to move their giving to the Faith Direct platform … 

Parishes that make the switch to Faith Direct have access to specific marketing and promotional materials, including emails, letters, and bulletin announcements, that are customized to each church and have been tested and proven to be effective over our fifteen years of experience with helping parishes strengthen their offertory. These materials include messages tailored specifically for current eGivers – introducing them to Faith Direct, sharing their new account information and options for updating their giving, and connecting parishioners to our customer service team should they have questions.

eGiving is all about simplicity and efficiency, and Faith Direct understands the importance of making it as painless as possible for current donors to make the switch from your existing program to our full-service platform. If you have specific questions about how Faith Direct can work with your parish to strengthen your offertory, visit www.faithdirect.net.