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!
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.
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%).
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.
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:
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!
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:|
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.
eGiving is quickly eclipsing check writing for Church Support. As church members frequently have questions about eGiving and their gifts, your program must have the staff or resources to provide immediate answers. A responsive, knowledgeable customer service team lets members know that their eGiving gifts to the church are in good hands, and that you care about their individual questions and concerns.
We spoke with Jack Emerson, Faith Direct’s Customer Service Manager, about the ins-and-outs of great eGiving customer service:
What do you think is the biggest customer service mistake that eGiving programs make?
I would say limiting the ways that people can contact you. It’s very important to give your members options. In addition to a phone number, your customer service program should also include channels such as a dedicated email address and a live online chat option.
Do different demographics within a church community seem to be more comfortable with certain customer service options?
In our experience, we’ve found that older individuals prefer to call in with their questions while younger individuals seem to prefer emailing their questions or using the online chat function. Regardless of age, members have indicated that they appreciate the option of being able to speak with someone on the phone.
What are the most important attributes of a good customer service representative?
I think it’s threefold: First, representatives should be prompt – whether it’s quickly answering the phone or responding right away to email or chat questions. Second, they must be knowledgeable about how the eGiving program works and what options exist, so they can answer questions with confidence. Third, they must be thoughtful and courteous, so members will always feel comfortable reaching out with any questions they may have.
Which issues do members contact customer service about the most?
It runs the gamut from changing their giving amounts or adding a special gift, to updating their bank or credit card information, and everything in between. People have questions about security, too – they want to know that their eGiving provider is handling their personal information in a secure way. There’s no question or concern too big or small for a great customer service program.
The stronger you can make your customer care network, the better your eGiving program will be for your church. Make a point this month of going over the service options your program provides, and making sure that your members’ questions can be answered quickly and knowledgeably.