Thinking about starting an eGiving program but not sure if your church will respond? Rev. Walter Lewis, the pastor at St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Powhatan County, Virginia, had the same concern.
Faith Direct spoke with him recently about why he was hesitant to launch an eGiving program, and why he’s glad his church decided to give it a try:
One Pastor’s Experience with eGiving
How much had you heard about eGiving before starting a program?
I had heard quite a bit about eGiving – however, I think it is fair to say I had a fairly limited understanding of what eGiving really meant. For me, I had already encouraged members to participate in eGiving, through their banks. I was reluctant to start a program because these attempts to encourage members did not yield good results.
Why did you choose an eGiving provider, rather than attempt to manage your program in-house as some churches do?
We did not have the capacity, nor do I think most churches have, to effectively promote and administer something like this. Security was one of our major concerns. Our Finance Council, in their wisdom and during our discernment, correctly recognized that our church should not be handling sensitive financial information. Why would my or any other church want to assume that liability?
Is there one component that you believe is especially critical to the success of a new eGiving program?
It is clear to me how critically important a promotional plan is to early success. While as Pastor I was willing to show my support by signing up myself, our church also used promotional mailing, email, Mass announcements and talking points to get the word out. This is why we have done so well – members responded because they were informed.
What would you say is the best measure of an eGiving program’s performance?
Enrollment! I am surprised more churches don’t recognize that successful eGiving is defined based on the number of members who use it.
Has eGiving had any impact on your regular offertory?
There is no question eGiving has made a positive impact on our weekly offertory. The automatic recurring nature of it results in an offertory increase while giving members a more convenient way of donating. Because of the high number of families that have enrolled at my church, this program provides consistent offertory even if members are out of town.
What does the future of eGiving look like for SJN? For the Church?
While I just started a real eGiving program 6 months ago, I see a point very soon that this new way of giving becomes the norm. We are a small rural church outside of Richmond yet in just 6 months nearly 50 percent of our donating households have signed up. If it can work here, it can work everywhere.