As successful eGiving evolves for churches, having an eGiving program involves much more than just offering members a way to give their donations electronically. Your eGiving provider or church must be prepared to handle a number of bookkeeping and customer service responsibilities that become the pillars of your program’s success.
Accounting: There are many “behind the scenes” details that must be handled to keep your program running smoothly. First, every transaction has to be reconciled so that all donations are accounted for and properly recorded in your census software. This is perhaps the most important part of managing an eGiving program, and there is no room for error.
Donation Maintenance: There are also administrative tasks that require member interaction. These include pending payment reminders, expiring credit card notifications, and managing declined donations. It’s important to alert individuals immediately when a donation is declined, and work with them to get the payment information updated. After that, the donation must be reprocessed, so that the person will be back into their normal giving routine.
Customer Service Pillars
Program Knowledge: Financial matters can be intimidating, and when questions arise members appreciate a quick, helpful response – whether it’s helping someone update their gift amounts or change their payment information.
Account Management: Most members expect to be able to manage their church donations much as they do their other donations and payments. This includes a robust online system and paper forms or over the phone for those members that are less comfortable with the internet.
Customer Care: It is important for your eGiving provider or church to be able to respond to member questions in a timely fashion. Individual member preferences dictate that your program or church be capable of responding to members via email, online chat or over the phone.
Managing a successful eGiving program takes a great deal of knowledge, a keen attention to detail and a willingness to help others. Before starting an in house eGiving program or selecting a provider, it is important to assess necessary staff time, availability or what customer service support is provided by your eGiving provider to ensure your program’s success
Your church has started an eGiving program, what now?
Set enrollment goals for your church.
Successful eGiving is about the number of members who actually sign up to give electronically to their church, not whether a church has a program!
What should you expect in your program’s first year and beyond?
Make sure your members know about it!
You can’t expect people to seek out eGiving on their own – you need to reach out to them with details on how eGiving works and why it’s beneficial to the church and to members alike.
Use a coordinated mix of the following communication tools:
Email: Personalized Email from the Pastor has proved to be a great way to promote eGiving.
Customized Letters: Since 20% of members still do not go online to enroll in eGiving program, mail continues to be a great way to communicate with them about your eGiving program.
Facebook and Twitter: Different segments of your church population are using Social Media for their everyday communication. This is a great way to spread the eGiving word!
Rotating Bulletin Announcements: Base message on season and liturgical calendar.
Remember: An eGiving program that members don’t know about and no one uses is like having no eGiving program at all! Make sure to promote eGiving, and keep close track of how many people are signing up, so you will know whether or not your program is working for your church.
Banks charge ATM fees. Airlines charge baggage fees. Like any conscientious consumer, you probably don’t like paying either but you know what the fees are going to be and budget for them when choosing a bank or airline.
But what about the fees being imposed on churches by some eGiving providers – fees that appear low until you have a successful, thriving eGiving program?
Now that every envelope, bulletin, software and publishing company serving the Catholic community is offering eGiving, trying to do an apples-to-apples cost comparison between a percentage-based or per-user program and a flat-fee approach would be a full time job.
The one basic principle to keep in mind: Federal Reserve data suggests that within 5 years, 80% of all church donations will have to be processed electronically due to check usage decline.
Any fee structure that takes a percentage of the gross receipts or has a user-based fee structure will prove to be very expensive for churches in a short period of time as more members join the program.
Think about those ATM and baggage fees – if you use your bank’s ATM, the fees are generally waived (and most grocery stores allow you to get cash back for free when you make a purchase). If you pack light and stick with a carry-on, you can avoid most airlines’ baggage fees. But with eGiving programs that charge a percentage of gross receipts or per-user fee, there’s no getting around the increased costs.
Tip: When comparing providers, request a written fee projection based on 80% of your collections being processed electronically. This will help you compare the programs and enable you to choose the one that will best fit your church.
In most cases, either selecting or switching to an equitable flat-fee model not only will save the church resources, but will help you be better stewards of your member’s generosity!
Faith Direct – the visionary company that is leading the transformation of church giving away from check writing and envelopes – is excited to celebrate ten years of helping churches strengthen their offertories and build renewed support for their ministries.
If you are looking for a great story on an innovative, ambitious company that is having a transformative impact, Faith Direct is an outstanding example.
On February 2 of 2004, Faith Direct processed its first donations from Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Bernardsville, NJ. Ten years later…
- Faith Direct has raised nearly $400 Million in donations for more than 500 churches across the country.
- Faith Direct now serves over 100,000 donors who use eGiving to support their church offertory, second collections and Capital Campaigns.
- In 2013, Faith Direct saw annual eGiving increase by 30% to nearly $120 million.
Faith Direct’s growth reflects the fact that the ability to accept electronic donations – whether through automatic bank debit or credit card – is now a requirement for any church organization’s financial stability.
“As we look towards the next 5 years, we believe that 80% of the $9 Billion in donations the Catholic Church receives each year will have to be processed electronically,” says W. Brian Walsh, company founder and president. “Yet, we estimate that at most, just 10% of all Church donations are managed this way. “
“Now is the time for the Church to phase out the old system of giving, and adapt eGiving just as parishioners are adapting it as their preferred means of giving,” Walsh adds, noting that Faith Direct is empowering parishes and dioceses with a better understanding of this next step in the evolution of offertory, and providing full-service eGiving strategies that go beyond just processing electronic transactions.
Meeting the demand of its clients and users, Faith Direct is the only provider in this space that offers parishes and dioceses a complete communication plan including direct mail, email, online account management, and an iOS app.
This leads Faith Direct parishes to achieve the highest level of eGiving participation among providers of this service. Key to parishioner and parish client retention is Faith Direct’s hands on customer service support, which has consistently received high praise.
“Since we processed our first donations in 2004, we have always believed that customized communication from the parish to the parishioner inviting them to support the Church electronically makes the difference in program success,” Walsh states.
People are responding to Faith Direct’s full-service approach to eGiving. A recent Faith Direct parishioner user survey found that:
- 99.6% of users stated Faith Direct exceeded their expectations
- 80% of users stated they would never go back to using check writing and envelopes.
- 60% of users are over the age of 60 – defying the stereotype that eGiving is preferred only by younger parishioners
“Our core mission has not changed in 10 years,” Walsh adds. “Faith Direct is uniquely positioned to continue our role in helping parishes and Dioceses integrate eGiving as the main platform for donation support.”
For a great story on how a company has transformed Church giving in just ten years – and how our full-service, customer-focused strategies are having a dramatic impact on our success and the growth of parish offertories across the nation – contact Faith Direct President Brian Walsh at (703) 519-5710 or via email here.
CCS and Faith Direct – two pioneering firms with extensive expertise in critical areas of fundraising and philanthropy for the Catholic Church – are pleased to announce a new strategic partnership designed to help Catholic parishes and dioceses inspire increased gifts of treasure among Church families and further help those in need by expanding the missions and ministries of the Catholic Church nationwide.
Since 1947, CCS has been a leader in Catholic philanthropy managing campaigns for parishes, Dioceses and other Church-related organizations, raising billions in donations. Started in 2004, Faith Direct has established the most sought after eGiving program for the Catholic Church, and will surpass $100 million in processed donations in 2012.
“We believe that Faith Direct offers significant value, return on investment and results for the parishes and Dioceses they serve,” says Thomas Kissane, Partner and Managing Director at CSS. “Their approach to their work is extraordinary and we feel confident Faith Direct will provide exceptional eGiving services to our Church clients.”
Brian Walsh, President of Faith Direct, added “I have long admired the faithful tradition in which CCS manages their organization, and the phenomenal work they do for their Church clients. The Faith Direct team is thrilled to collaborate with CCS and work together to deliver even greater results for the Church.”
Faith Direct’s growth reflects the fact that the ability to accept electronic donations – whether through automatic bank debit or credit card – is quickly becoming a requirement for any church organization’s financial stability. Faith Direct is empowering parishes and dioceses with a better understanding of this next step in the evolution of offertory, and providing full-service eGiving strategies that go beyond just processing electronic transactions.
“Faith Direct understands that the skill and experience with which an eGiving program is introduced and administered is frequently the difference between a successful program and one which falls short of its potential,” explains Walsh. “We encourage church-wide participation in our programs though customized direct mail and email communications and exciting innovations like our new iOS App – and in doing so, we help churches grow their offertory while establishing a benchmark for converting check writers to eGivers.”
Today, Faith Direct works in 65 Dioceses supporting offertory, second collections, Appeals and Capital Campaigns. For more information on what makes the Faith Direct program uniquely innovative and effective, visit FaithDirect.net. To arrange an interview with Faith Direct President Brian Walsh, call (703) 519-5710.
CCS, a leading global fundraising consulting and management firm, provides fundraising, development services and strategic consulting to Catholic parishes and dioceses worldwide. Founded in 1947, the firm is wholly owned by its ten partners and retains the largest and most experienced permanent staff in the industry. To learn more, visit www.ccsfundraising.com.