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5 New Year’s Resolutions Every Parish Should Have

A new year provides your parish with a new opportunity to reach parishioners and donors.

With the new year comes new opportunities, new hopes, and new endeavors. That fresh-start feeling leads you to make goals for yourself for the coming year and provides an opportunity for growth. However, that feeling shouldn’t stop with your personal goals; it should also carry over into the vision you have for your parish. By using that new year optimism and implementing these 5 resolutions, your parish’s 2019 strategy will begin to come together more quickly and more clearly than ever. Plus, you may even have fun doing it!

1. Learn from the past while moving forward
You can’t change the future without learning from the past. Did you achieve all the goals that you made last year? If yes, how did you do it? If not, where did you fall short? Figuring out why you succeeded or why not is crucial to growing your ministry. After that, you can better develop plans that are designed to either repeat your successes or avoid the snags that kept you from succeeding last year.

2. Anticipate what is to come
Think about the coming year and what trials are likely to come with it. Does your parish need costly maintenance repairs, or do you need to add a few employees? Preparing well in advance for things you know that your parish will eventually need can help you properly forecast your budget and leave room for any surprises that may happen throughout the year.

3. Make your objectives more specific
Before sharing your plan, make sure to map out exactly what it is you want to accomplish. First, define goals that fit your parish and your mission. Secondly, figure out how you are going to measure success. Then, set a realistic timeline to measure your progress and ensure timely completion. For example, don’t just say that you want to increase monthly attendance. Make it clear by saying that you want to increase monthly attendance by 15% by the end of 2019. Good planning and definition will help ensure that you have the best foundation in place to achieve success.

4. Set more frequent milestones
Breaking down big goals into smaller ones helps to keep everyone from feeling overwhelmed. If the tasks are kept short and simple, you’ll be able to keep your team more engaged and focused on completing the parish’s overall goal. If you want to raise $12,000 for a mission project by the end of June 2019, break it down into 3-6 monetary milestones with a clear halfway point. This will help unite and energize members to see the goal through until the very end.

5. Celebrate every win
Though it’s easy to get tunnel vision when you’re focused on achieving a major goal, make sure to celebrate with your leadership team and parish any time you reach a milestone or complete a goal. It’s important for your members to know that their contributions are making a difference and helping the parish to achieve its goals. Sharing stories of your achievements is a great way to get everyone excited about your ministry and will help maintain the giving momentum throughout the new year.

If you’d like to learn more about how Faith Direct can help your parish meet its 2019 goals, please contact our sales team at 866-507-8757 or sales@faithdirect.net.

Year-End Giving: Promote Across All Channels

Increase year-end giving at your parish.

Faith Direct has introduced our step-by-step year-end giving guide for parishes and has discussed the important role that planning your parish’s communication strategy can have on growing your eGiving program, and have made some suggestions for best practices you might want to consider implementing before launching a year-end giving program. Now that you have a solid plan for communication and best practices, it’s time to start promoting your eGiving program.

Your parish’s year-end fundraising campaign should allow donors to find information about your parish, how your parish works to spread the Gospel and help your community. Information should be easily accessible and donation forms should be able to seamlessly collect funds whether the form is accessed from a computer, on a smartphone or from a tablet.

Provide Giving Button on Websites

Make it easy for your parishioners and donors to find your giving website by placing a “Give” or “Make Donation” button prominently placed at the top of all pages. And be sure that your donations page is optimized to reinforce the impact of year-end giving by providing suggested donation amounts, recurring gift options and “in memory/honor of” options. You can also create a donate link on your parish’s Facebook page.

Provide One-Click Donations from Email

From your year-end emails, include a “Give” or “Make Donation” button prominently that takes the email recipients automatically to the donation form. Make sure that you are tracking every donation that comes from one of your email campaigns. And if you have a mobile phone number for email recipient, it can’t hurt to also send them a text message asking them to make a donation.

Post Reminders on Social Media Pages

One of the great things about a multi-channel brand presence is the ability to turn many of your social media followers into donors. You can do that by providing short social media posts with links to videos and by embedding photos that show the good work your parish does. A link to a story about someone that was positively impacted by parishioners’ generous donations or a testimonial from someone who was helped by the parish or found God after joining the parish goes a long way in displaying the impact of donations. Encourage people to donate, no matter how small the gift.

Send Multiple Messages Before Asking for a Donation

Even though you may provide a prominent link to a button where donations can be made, your parish should not start an email campaign by actually asking for a monetary gift until after you have sent a couple of messages, ideally at least 2 or 3.

The best way to start a year-end giving campaign is by providing compelling content centered around stories of what event took place that year that have helped the community, spotlighting the groups that have benefited from the good work the parish does throughout the year, and the various religious education events including VBS that have educated youth about God and his unending love for each one of us. While your parish’s goal is to raise money, it first must sway hearts before pocketbooks will open.

When launching a year-end giving campaign, your parish needs a complete eGiving solution that is made for parishes like yours. To learn more about Faith Direct, contact our sales team at 866-507-8757 or sales@faithdirect.net.

Year-End Giving: How to Implement Best Practices

Using best practice can assist your parish.

Faith Direct has introduced our step-by-step year-end giving guide for parishes and has discussed the important role that planning your parish’s communication strategy can have on growing your eGiving program. Now, we will dive into the best practices that are needed to ensure success.

Faith Direct helps your parish raise more money because you are providing your donors with a modern and convenient way to share their monetary treasures with your parish.

Year-End Campaign Primary Best Practices

  • Make it easy for donors to give anywhere, anytime from a variety of devices.
  • Make it easy for volunteers to sign up to help your parish.
  • Easily kick off your year-end giving campaign on Giving Tuesday, which is the Tuesday after Thanksgiving (this year it’s on Tuesday, November 27, 2018).
  • Communicate on numerous communication channels (ie.your website, social media pages, in emails, via text message, and via phone calls) at once.

 

Provide Donors Several Ways to Give

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 providing your parish with the best possible chance of receiving a donation from all parishioners.

Allow donors to give on your online giving website, by text message, with an eGiving app, by check, or over the phone. And if possible at your church, parishioners might enjoy seeing an online campaign fundraising results tracker or thermometer that allows website visitors to track how much money has been raised in your year-end giving campaign so far.

Use #GivingTuesday to your Parish’s Advantage

Giving Tuesday takes place every year on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving and is an ideal time to launch your parish’s year-end giving campaign. By planning your parish’s year-end giving campaign in advance, you can effectively communicate with different age groups with a message that is most likely going to solicit a donation. For those people who check your parish’s social media pages for updates, be sure to thank donors and perhaps even single out one person per day who has made a donation thanking them for their generous gift. And on your parish’s website, post a running total of the amount collected during your year-end campaign.

Another way to increase awareness of your parish’s campaign is to take a photograph. When you take a photo of yourself with your smartphone, it’s called taking a “selfie.” In the case of year-end giving, encourage donors to post an “unselfie” which could be a simple Word document created by your parish like this example from the GivingTuesday.org website that allows the individual to type in why they gave, print the document, and take a photo of themselves with the paper to increase awareness of your parish’s fundraising efforts.

Make Your Parish’s Final Appeal

As remarkable as it sounds, 10% of all giving from 2018 will occur in the last three days of the year. Between December 29-31 ask your supporters to make a last-minute donation before New Year’s Day to help your parish reach its giving goal. Send a text message to those donors for whom you have a valid mobile phone number, send an email to all past donors, or post to your social media pages asking for last minute donations. One great way to get noticed is to consider having a member from the parish staff create a short but personal video asking for donations and why it’s important to give what you are able. And be sure to include a short, easy to remember link where donations can be made.

Our next post will conclude our year-end giving guide for with some ways to better promote your program. To discuss your parish’s eGiving program and learn how Faith Direct can help you to better engage your parishioners, please contact our sales team at 866-507-8757 or sales@faithdirect.net.

Year-End Giving: The Importance of Planning Your Parish’s Communication Strategy

Year-end giving is important for parishes.

Now that we have introduced our step-by-step year-end giving guide for parishes, let’s talk about the Christmas season. During the Christmas, your parishioners and donors are bombarded with nonprofit organizations also seeking their financial support. It’s important that your parish recognizes who you are trying to reach and the best way to reach them.

Segment Your Target Audience

  • Millennials are 20-35 and are most likely to respond to a text message asking for a donation, watch a video detailing your message or respond to social media content.
  • Generation X are 36-50 and are the group most likely to want to help fundraise or volunteer for your parish, and respond equally well to text messages, phone calls, and to email. Plus, they are likely to check social media for updates. It’s important to engage this group before launching your parish’s year-end giving campaign if you want to raise the most money possible.
  • Baby Boomers are generally 51-65 and are the group most likely to set-up reoccurring gifts. This group responds well to phone calls and direct mail, they can respond well to email or even text-messaging in some cases. But phone calls and direct mail are generally best for this age group to encourage donations.
  • Greatest Generation members are 66 and up and are often not considered to be as willing to utilize Faith Direct as other generational groups, but they respond well to direct mail and phone calls and are also like to give by sending a check in the mail.

 

Set Your Goals
The best way to determine if your campaign is successful is to set a realistic but lofty goal that is specific and measurable that can be tied to either your financial giving numbers or your parish’s overall marketing goals. Some examples might include:

  • Increase donations among existing donors by 5% in December 2018 compared to giving numbers from December 2017.
  • Increase the number of new donors by 3% in December 2018 compared to December 2017.
  • Sign up X number of parishioners with Faith Direct before the end of December 2018.

 

Create Your Campaign
Every time your parish communicates to parishioners and donors, the look and feel of the campaign should be consistent. That means the parish logo and colors used in all marketing pieces should be similar enough that recipients recognize its part of your parish’s year-end giving campaign. Plus, the message and even the tone being communicated should also be similar from marketing piece to marketing piece. If possible, include photos and video that capture visually the mission of your parish and why your mission is important.

Donors love to read and hear how their donations are making a positive impact on the world. Create videos or testimonials that address the good work your parish is doing and individuals in the community or around the world that have been positively impacted by your parish. Compel the audience to take action by showing the good deeds they can help support with a donation using Faith Direct. And if you still aren’t convinced, consider this fact: the #1 reason that first-time donors do not give again is that they are unaware of the impact their donation has made. So, take the time to let your audience know how their donation is making a difference. It will be time well spent.

Determine How You Will Thank Donors
Spread the Christmas spirit to your donors when they provide you with a year-end donation. A good initial step is to personally thank your donors on your social media pages such as Facebook and Twitter. You could single out a random recipient, or if you prefer, the messages could be more general. Similar messages can also be posted on your parish’s website and in your parish’s bulletin thanking donors and providing a status update on how much has been raised so far. When posting to social media or to your website, also remind people who haven’t donated that it’s never too late to donate.

For those donors who use text giving to make a donation to your parish, send them a personal message thanking them for their general donation. For those donors to call in or mail in a donation, call them on the phone or leave them a voicemail thanking them for their donation and wishing them a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. A personal thank you will go a long way in showing your donors that you value and appreciate their generosity.

In our next year-end giving guide post, we will look at some best practices for your parish, so check back soon. To discuss your parish’s eGiving program with us, please contact our sales team at 866-507-8757 or sales@faithdirect.net.

Year-End Giving: The Step-by-Step Guide for Parishes

Is your parish ready for year-end giving?

Throughout the year, mobile giving has increased in importance for parishes. During the past year, donations made on mobile devices has increased by 205% and 25% of all donations are now made on mobile devices. The end of the year is the biggest opportunity for Catholic churches to raise money, during this season, Faith Direct can have an even greater impact for your parish.

During the month of December parishes typically receive 30% of their annual donations. For example, on December 31, 2017, the peak time for donations to be made was between 12:00 – 7:00 PM ET and parishes overall processed twice as many donations that month as they did in November 2017.

Clearly, it’s important for your donors that they have an opportunity to give back at the end of the year, but have you ever wondered what’s really motivating your donors to give?

Some people might donate to your parish simply because want to make a difference. Others might want to feel connected to something positive during the Christmas season or perhaps they are strictly looking to take advantage of tax deductions. Whatever the reason, your donors will want to give to your parish at the end of the year. Is your parish doing everything it can to reach them and encourage donations?

Important Year-End Giving Statistics Every Parish Should Know

30%
of all annual donations occur in December

10%
of all annual donations occur on the last 3 days of the year

To assist your parish in this important task, Faith Direct has created a year-end giving fundraising campaign guide that will help you maximize donations during the time of year that your donors are most likely to give. We look forward to sharing this with you in the weeks to come. To discuss your parish’s giving program, contact our sales team at 866-507-8757 or sales@faithdirect.net.

Faith Direct in the News: “A win-win for the parish and the parishioner…”

Faith Direct is the focus of an in-depth article on church eGiving written by Josephine von Dohlen of Catholic News Service and featured by Catholic news outlets including Crux, CatholicPhilly.com and PittsburghCatholic.org.

As Faith Direct President Brian Walsh says in the article, eGiving is “such a win-win for the parish and the parishioner once they enroll in the program because it’s meeting parishioners where they are today.”

The article highlights parish-level success stories, including a pilot program in Oklahoma:

Peter de Keratry is the executive director of stewardship and development for the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City. In a trial program, his department offered parishes one year of funding for the use of an online giving program.
“My intention is to get our parishes to wake up to the reality of the 21st century,” de Keratry said in an interview with CNS.
Nineteen parishes in the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City began using Faith Direct through the archdiocese’s funding program.
“We already have 14 parishes well past their first-year goals, and we’ve only been at it for five months,” de Keratry said. “So it is working.”

You can read the full article here. To learn how Faith Direct’s game-changing eGiving strategies can help grow your parish offertory and expand your ministries, contact us toll-free at 866-507-8757 or email at info@faithdirect.net.

$1,000,000,000 and Counting

Faith Direct has reached an incredible milestone:  $1 billion in donations processed electronically for the more than 700 parishes we serve throughout the United States.  

“The gifts we’ve processed have been used by parishes to expand their ministries, strengthen their schools, serve their parish families and help those in need throughout their communities and worldwide,” says W. Brian Walsh, President of Faith Direct.

As an early leader in this critically important work, Faith Direct’s success reflects the way many of the faithful now support local churches, but a great deal of work remains. Even as America becomes an increasingly “cashless” society, the Catholic Church still collects just a small amount electronically. According to Walsh, “Our estimates suggest that at most only 20% of the $10 billion in annual donations to the Catholic Church are handled through electronic means.” 

Faith Direct is committed to helping churches adapt to the new reality – that we’re approaching a time when 80% of offertory will have to be processed electronically.

“We’ll reach our next billion-dollar milestone even faster, because eGiving is no longer just an option for parishes,” Walsh notes. “It’s a way of life for parishioners, with more families embracing this innovation each day.”

Church leaders are also realizing the benefits of this transformation in giving. “This $1 billion milestone represents the consistency that eGiving provides to churches,” says Walsh. “It protects them from seasonal fluctuations, weather disruptions and other events that can leave parishes under-budget for their ministries and operations.”

Faith Direct is grateful for the opportunity to help so many great churches and individuals do God’s work and make a difference in our world. On behalf of our entire team, we want to say “Thank you!” to the parishes and parishioners who trust us with their stewardship!

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%).
egiving_survey_q3-Title_v2

 

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:

lentenchallengestats

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.