For many years now, parishes have been using eGiving services for collecting their regular donations. More recently, parishes have sought to apply the convenience of eGiving to other programs and payments, including registrations for Religious Education, small group meetings, retreats and other events.
Faith Direct spoke to three parishes that are using our event registration platform for their Religious Education signups to discover what they like most. Here’s what they had to say:
For families participating in Religious Education, online registration makes life easier. “It is really convenient for our families,” says Kate Rice of Most Precious Blood in Denver, CO. “We have hundreds of families signed up for different programs, and they appreciate being able to register multiple children all in one place.”
Many parishes that start out using online registration for Religious Education quickly realize that is has many other uses. “We’re using it as much as we can,” says Marianne Larson from St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Plano, TX. “One of our ministries has an annual bazaar, and they are using it to handle booth registrations.”
“We see online registration as a way to help make programs more accessible to our parishioners,” says Kevin Muller from St. Maria Goretti in Westfield, IN – noting that before, registration involved a special trip to the church office to pick up or drop off forms, or an extra effort to mail in registration materials. “The availability of online registration has been very well-received.”
Does your eGiving program have events registration as a standard feature? If not, it’s putting your parish at a disadvantage. Below is a video explaining how Faith Direct is incorporating online event registration into our eGiving program.
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 email@example.com.
Are you deciding on the best eGiving program for your church, or reviewing your current provider to make sure it’s still the best fit?
Faith Direct wants to help you make the most informed decision possible.
Below you will find our 2017 eGiving Program Checklist. This easy-to-download PDF covers every aspect of your eGiving needs from Program Administration, Communication and Customer Service to Administrative Services and Security.
eGiving Program Considerations
Does your eGiving provider charge a percentage of donations along with added user fees – or does it feature a flat fee inclusive of all services?
Can your members use the program to give to all collections, and to register for parish events?
Will your church be responsible for introducing and promoting the eGiving program to your members – or does the program have a full-service stewardship component?
Does the program offer dedicated customer service for users by phone, email and online chat?
Is your church responsible for contacting members regarding needed updates to their credit card information, or does the program handle this task?
How does the provider protect donors’ sensitive financial information – and how much responsibility will your church bear in the event of a data breach?
Who is the Merchant of Record: your church or the processor?
This 2017 eGiving Program Checklist covers a lot of ground, because there’s plenty to think about as you make this important decision for your church. Faith Direct wants you to make the best choice for your church’s eGiving program. We hope this Checklist helps!
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 company you choose for an eGiving program should be more than just a transaction processor – they should be your partner and consultant while maintaining a personal connection to your parish.
Q&A: Client Relations Manager Jim Woods works to build one-on-one relationships with parishes that entrust Faith Direct with eGiving usage growth and security of their offertory. We sat down with him to discuss how parishes benefit from this connection:
Why does Faith Direct commit to having a direct relationship with the parishes you serve?
Our primary goal is to help parishes succeed with eGiving, and the better we know each parish the more we can help them strengthen their offertory. As a turn key solution, it is our responsibility to keep our clients informed on results.
What’s your favorite way to connect with individual parishes?
Whether on the phone or in person, nothing beats a one-on-one conversation. We check in periodically with each parish, to talk to them about any specific questions or needs they might have.
What are some topics you generally cover when you speak with an individual parish?
Results are very important – how the parish is doing in terms of parishioner usage or “enrollment”, and how eGiving can be promoted within the parish community to increase enrollment. It’s also a chance for us to get feedback and suggestions for ways we can better serve parishes – we always want to hear what parishioners like about Faith Direct, concerns or questions they may have, and any changes we could consider that might make our program stronger.
Do you have other strategies for keeping parishes informed?
We send out a monthly e-newsletter that shares eGiving news plus updates on new features of our program, and we coordinate with parishes on special annual parishioner outreach mail and email campaigns, tied to when they introduced Faith Direct to the parish family. We also offer monthly webinars focused on specific areas of the Faith Direct program, so parishes can learn more about how the program works and everything we offer. And our customer service team is available to parishes via phone, email and online chat.
Overall, the more an eGiving program offers parishes, the stronger the relationship will be. Features like our online event registration platform help build our connection with parishes – it’s part of our overall goal to make things easier and more efficient for the parishes we serve, so they can focus on their ministries.
How is your relationship with your eGiving provider? They should serve as a consultant about eGiving results and best practices, support your office staff, keep you informed, and make your program’s success a top priority. If they don’t, your eGiving program may not be a strong as it could be.
If you are currently using, or hearing sales pitches from, transaction-based eGiving providers, here are five questions you should be asking yourself:
Generosity that materializes and grows over 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 parish is an effective instrument of God’s work. Why should an eGiving firm get to share in this recognition by being paid more for larger gifts?
Do you think that your parishioners would be happy with the fact that, the more generous they are, the more money an eGiving provider receives?
Beyond processing donations, what practical steps and services do transaction-based eGiving providers include in their platform to merit a higher fee month after month?
Is the fee your parish pays to your eGiving provider predetermined – or are you paying your provider a larger commission as participation in your program grows?
How much money will your eGiving company be making when 80% of your donations are eventually processed electronically – the current forecast for most parishes?
As you review your eGiving program, make sure that your parish 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 parish family gives more.
How can I share the importance of eGiving through my parish’s Lenten message?
During Lent, Christians are called to renew spiritual practices like fasting, praying and almsgiving. Year after year, Faith Direct receives tremendous support of our Lenten Challenge, in which parishes share a bold message with members: Fast. Pray. Give Up Envelopes!
With this message, pastors encourage parishioners to help the church by giving up envelopes, and embracing eGiving for their generous offertory and parish support.
As almsgiving encourages each of us to express gratitude for all that God has given by giving some away, Lent is a time for parishioners to think about how they give.
Here are four points you can highlight this Lenten season:
Fast. Pray. Give up Envelopes!
eGiving helps the church save money by eliminating the wasteful envelopes that go unused by so many. That savings can be used to strengthen important missions!
By taking up eGiving parishioners help the church, by providing the parish with consistent support that allows for better budgeting and planning for year-round ministries.
Switching to eGiving means less wasted paper – from unused envelopes to unnecessary forms and documents. It’s a gift to the earth, which Pope Francis has stressed.
Urge your parishioners to think about how many checks they write now, compared to five years ago. For many people, the only check they write anymore may be to the church each Sunday. Ask them to think about their lives and their giving in new ways.
This Lent, encourage your parish to Fast. Pray. Give Up Envelopes!
May God bless you and your parish abundantly during this Lenten season.
“Each life that we encounter is a gift deserving acceptance, respect and love.”
– Pope Francis
Faith Direct is leading a new #LentenGift social media campaign, with the hope that many will encounter the spirit of Lent online. We hope your parish will be part of this unique initiative!
Inspired by everything from cherished bible verses and Pope Francis’s 2017 message for Lent, to words associated with this season of reflection and penance, we’ve chosen a special theme for each day that captures the meaning and significance of Lent.
Throughout Lent, our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram posts will reflect each day’s theme, with the hashtag #LentenGift.
Here’s how you can join us:
Start by posting the attached Lenten calendar on March 1 with the #LentenGift hashtag on Twitter, Facebook and/or Instagram.
After that, simply follow the calendar and take inspiration from each day’s theme. Post whatever you are moved to share, whether it’s a photo of a cross from your church on the first day of Lent, or a quote from Pope Francis on the final day.
Whatever platforms you use, you can post images from your church and community, or you can share inspiring quotes that reflect the day’s theme – and you can encourage your parishioners to post as well.
You’re also welcome to share our daily posts, as we spread the message of Lent.
Together we can build a community of faith across social media in recognition of Lent. We look forward to seeing what inspires you!
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.
Now is the time to make sure your church is not overpaying for your eGiving program – espcially if you are currently using, or hearing sales pitches from, transaction-based eGiving providers. Here are five questions you should be asking yourself:
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?
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?
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?
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?
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 2017, 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.
Meet Vince Guerreiro — Vince is the Finance Chair and member of the Parish Planning and Building Committee of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Ewa Beach, HI. Just last year Vince vetted out eGiving providers and shares his thoughts.
Q: How many eGiving providers did you consider, and what was the process like? A: We narrowed the possibilities down to four providers, and received proposals from all of them — Faith Direct’s was the only proposal that was personalized to our parish and addressed the critical concern of long-term costs as our program succeeded. I created a spreadsheet to make the numbers from all four providers comparable, so the Finance Council members could see the pros and cons of each bidder. Included in my analysis was potential staff and promotional time that I recognized to be key to having a successful program.
Q: What was Our Lady of Perpetual Help looking for in an eGiving provider? A: Experience mattered — firms may have good intentions, but experience is what counts. A good value was also important, and I believed that a program with a flat fee and promotional strategy was the best solution. Security responsibilities, including who serves as the Merchant of Record, were a real concern for many of us.
Q: Did the church consider doing in house?
A: It’s been said that the lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client, and I feel that’s applicable to eGiving — it’s best left to the experts. We talked with a local bank, but it was just a payment provider option with no other resources or help with marketing. We wanted a wider range of services.
Q: How did you approach the question of costs? A: Rather than focusing just on up-front costs, we recognized that future growth would ultimately be to our benefit. Younger folks are tech-savvy, and will respond to the program. With other programs, that would mean that our fees would grow. With Faith Direct, as the volume grows, the cost per parishioner drops below the other players in the marketplace.
Q: Since partnering with Faith Direct, the return on your investment is now at 281%. Are you surprised by this level of success?
A: I was worried about how eGiving would perform for us, especially since we are home to a lot of older parishioners. But we found that older parishioners are very interested, but they will usually come into the parish office to enroll, which makes the availability of paper enrollment forms very important. Overall, I’ve been very pleasantly surprised.
Q: At this point 40% of your parish donors have converted to eGiving through Faith Direct. What do you believe is driving this high success rate? A: Our Pastor and priests have been very aggressive in encouraging parishioners to use Faith Direct — they used the talking points you provided us to get us off to a great start. It’s very important for the parish leadership to buy into eGiving, and recognize that churches are going to need new ways of giving other than cash or checks. This has been a great partnership: Faith Direct does the heavy lifting and parish leadership helps serve as an advocate.
Q: What has the impact of eGiving been on your enrollees’ offertory?
A: On average, those parishioners enrolled in Faith Direct are showing a 23.7% increase in their annual offertory giving. While we can attribute this to the recurring giving consistency that eGiving affords, it also should be an important lesson in why participation levels really do matter.
Q: What advice would you give other parishes discerning eGiving options? A: Don’t be afraid to ask yourself, “How can our parish not do all the work?” Most churches don’t have the resources or manpower to handle all the facets of eGiving. While fees should definitely be considered, it’s just as important to consider what your provider will do for the parish. Faith Direct takes the work off our hands — other providers would have pushed more responsibility on us.