The end of the year is quickly approaching – is your parish ready to welcome generous gifts from your parish families to close out 2021? Whether people are feeling the generosity of the Christmas season or looking for final tax-deductible gifts before tax time, the last weeks of the year can bring an outpouring of support for your parish ministries. And there are steps you can take now to increase the year-end donations your parish receives as 2021 draws to a close.
Here are five strategies you can incorporate now to build engagement among your parishioners and spark increased support for the ministries that mean the most to your parish and your community:
1. Make Online Giving Easy for Your Church Families
If your parishioners and donors have to search around your website and toggle here-and-there to find your giving page, they may give up instead. Make it obvious: Have a “Give” or “Make Donation” button prominently placed at the top of all pages. This button will lead to your donation page—make sure it is updated and optimized to reinforce the specific impact of year-end giving. You can provide suggested donation amounts, recurring gift opportunities and “in memory/honor of” options. (This applies to your year-end emails as well—include a “Give” or “Make Donation” button prominently that takes the email recipients automatically to the year-end-themed donation form.)
2. Provide Your Donors with the Giving Options They Value
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 giving your parish the best possible chance of receiving a donation from all parishioners, and strengthening your most important ministries.
Of course you want to encourage donations via your main website, as discussed above—but make sure to go beyond that. Think text-to-give options and app-based giving that appeals to younger parishioners; utilizing these channels can help you build a broader base of support for your ministries. And what about “traditional” donors who want to give via check? If they give in
person, use that engagement as a way to introduce them to the efficiency and security of online and recurring giving, and mention the benefits to the church as well (more secure, easier to process, more consistent). Hearing this from you or your church staff can inspire them to make the switch.
3. Capitalize on Your Social Media Presence
Those who follow your parish on social media, want to see your ministries succeed—so it makes sense to reach out for support via Facebook and similar channels. You can adapt your year-end materials, such as emails and website copy, for social media posts, with a link to your year-end giving page.
Social media also gives you opportunities to use videos, photos, and similar content that shows your parish’s good works. A link to a story about someone who was positively impacted by parishioners’ generous donations, or a testimonial from someone whose life was changed through parish ministries, goes a long way in displaying the impact of donations.
This is a great forum to test out requests for smaller donations—a $5 or $10 year-end gift via social media can be the start of lasting generosity, and it’s also an opportunity to encourage your supporters to make a small gift a recurring one.
4. Focus on WHY to Give, Not Just How
Website buttons and dedicated URLs are essential to a successful campaign, but your year-end giving appeals will really thrive if they’re built on compelling, inspiring content—stories of great impact from the 2021, groups or individuals who have benefited from the parish’s ministries, or specific religious education events including VBS that have educated youth about God and his unending love for each one of us.
People want to know that when they give, their dollars will make a meaningful difference. The most you can illustrate this, the more generous and joyful your parishioners will be in their year-end giving—and the more stories of transformative impact you’ll have to tell at the end of 2022!
5. Keep Your Year-End Focus Through the Very End of the Year
In past years, as much as 10% of all giving for Faith Direct parishes has occurred in the last three days of the year. The Christmas season is hectic, and between December 29-31 many parishioners will be scrambling to make their last-minute charitable gifts at year’s end.
During these critical days, make sure to ask your supporters for their last-minute donations—send text message to those donors for whom you have a valid mobile phone number, and/or emails to your list (forwarding a previous email, from a different sender, is a simple way to grab attention). And don’t forget to post to your social media pages with final appeals for support. These three final days of the year can greatly strengthen your ministries for all of 2022, if you stay engaged with your church families and inspire them to give.
Never Miss an Opportunity to Strengthen Your Ministries
Are you looking to strengthen your online giving, so your parish can maximize every opportunity to build lasting support for your most powerful ministries? The Faith Direct team is eager to talk with you about how we are helping parishes throughout the country with engagement, success and growth—and how we can help you too! Connect with us here to online giving built for your parish through Faith Direct.
Let’s talk about pricing…
Many eGiving programs attract parishes by offering a seemingly low upfront cost structure. This is a classic marketing strategy – getting people in the door with a low price. It might be good marketing, but it’s not necessarily good for churches. Parishes that buy into an eGiving service with lower upfront pricing can quickly find their costs escalating as more people use the program. And “basic” services can burden front-office staff with extra, time-consuming tasks.
eGiving is a long-term process, so it’s important to think of your costs that way as well. Here are five questions to ask as you consider the true overall costs of a successful eGiving program:
1. Is the pricing structure a flat fee, or is it percentage-based?
Flat-fee pricing means your parish’s costs will remain consistent, month after month. Under a percentage-based plan that’s tied to the amount of your monthly offertory, your parish’s costs will increase as more of your members sign up for eGiving – having the perverse effect of costing your parish more if your members are inspired to support key ministries by signing up for eGiving. The last thing parishes need is to to be punished as their eGiving program grows – but that’s what happens under percentage-based fee structures.
2. How much time will your church staff be required to spend maintaining and managing your eGiving platform?
In general, eGiving saves time for your front-office staff because they don’t have to spend so many hours processing individual checks and documenting and safely handling cash offerings (and this makes your offertory more secure as well) – but just how much time your parish can save depends on the platform you chose. If a program makes your team responsible for time-consuming tasks like updating payment and credit card information, dealing with declined transactions, and tracking card expirations, you will need to consider that in your overall staffing and budget calculations. A full-service program like Faith Direct will take this burden off your parish staff, allowing them to dedicate more time directly to ministries and programs.
3. Does the eGiving provider offer dedicated customer care for the parish?
Your parish will inevitably have questions about implementing and managing your eGiving program – and some church members will likely need help with enrollment and account management. Will the eGiving provider you choose be there with the answers you need? Faith Direct assigns a church success manager to every parish, ensuring a direct resource for questions related to the program, communication strategies, and reporting – and we also offer dedicated email and phone customer service for parishioners who need help. If a program requires your church staff to figure out how eGiving works and field questions from members, that’s more time your team will have to spend on administrative tasks – and less time to focus on ministries.
4. Do the programs you are considering have strategies to help your parish with marketing and promoting eGiving?
It’s not enough for a parish to simply offer an eGiving option – parishioners need to know the option exists, and they need to be informed of why recurring, automatic gifts are especially helpful in sustaining and expanding important ministries. If promoting eGiving falls to the parish, that’s even more time required for your busy front-office staff – and again, that translates to less time your staff can dedicate to ministries. Faith Direct offers tested marketing materials customized with each parish’s branding, because we want parishes to success and because we’ve learned that church members respond more enthusiastically to an eGiving option that truly reflects the parish’s identify and overall mission. If such resources aren’t available to the parish – or if they drive up your cost – your parish will pay, one way or the other.
5. Are special features that will enhance your parish offertory and church operations included in the eGiving program’s cost?
As church members grow more tech savvy and use digital tools to handle everything from supporting causes they love to buying groceries and making dinner reservations (especially after COVID-19 has forced everyone to go “contactless”), they will expect such flexibility from your eGiving platform. Some providers do not offer such added services at all, while others only offer enhancements as “add-ons” or “upgrades” that will increase your costs. Faith Direct includes features like text-to-give and event registration as part of our overall platform – it’s important to know exactly what’s included in any pricing given to you by potential eGiving providers. eGiving is an investment for your parish that’s geared towards consistency and long-term growth to sustain your church ministries, and it’s important to take a “big picture” look at how a program’s cost structure will impact your parish now and in the future. If you have specific questions about Faith Direct’s flat-fee cost structure, why it’s more beneficial and equitable for parishes, and the services features included in the cost, visit www.faithdirect.net.
If you have an eGiving option already in place for your parish, changing course and asking your parishioners to switch over to a new service can seem like a daunting task – but it doesn’t have to be! And it definitely shouldn’t stop you from making changes that can strengthen your offertory and build deeper long-term support for your parish ministries.
Faith Direct has more than fifteen years of experience in helping parishes navigate this process, and in fact some 70% of our new parish clients have used a competitive program or bank service. Our team has identified three proven strategies for simplifying the transition from an existing service to the Faith Direct platform. Here’s how we help parishes make the switch:
We do the legwork to make the transition easy for your existing eGivers …
When a new parish with a legacy program joins Faith Direct, we proactively create new user accounts and temporary passwords for your current donors, so they can quickly sign in with Faith Direct and set up their giving with us. Parishes tell us that this is has a major impact in helping people make the switch – when parishioners know that much of the work is already done for them, they’re less apprehensive about taking the initiative and updating their giving.
We offer dedicated customer service to help current givers who have questions about how Faith Direct works and what they need to do to switch over …
Parishioners will inevitably have some questions about a new program – and the easier it is for them to get answers, the more confident they will be that this is a sensible change for the church. Faith Direct’s customer service agents are available via phone and email to field questions about giving options, payment methods, security concerns, and other topics that may arise as a parish transitions to our platform – and each parish is assigned a church success team to help the front office staff implement the new program and address any direct questions from parishioners.
We provide customized marketing materials that help churches get the word out about how to move their giving to the Faith Direct platform …
Parishes that make the switch to Faith Direct have access to specific marketing and promotional materials, including emails, letters, and bulletin announcements, that are customized to each church and have been tested and proven to be effective over our fifteen years of experience with helping parishes strengthen their offertory. These materials include messages tailored specifically for current eGivers – introducing them to Faith Direct, sharing their new account information and options for updating their giving, and connecting parishioners to our customer service team should they have questions.
eGiving is all about simplicity and efficiency, and Faith Direct understands the importance of making it as painless as possible for current donors to make the switch from your existing program to our full-service platform. If you have specific questions about how Faith Direct can work with your parish to strengthen your offertory, visit www.faithdirect.net.
We recently surveyed 1,400 customers asking how COVID-19 has impacted their church, and we are pleased to share the results with you.
Engagement, financial implications, staffing and programming have been areas of concern for many churches, and we invite you to learn more about the trends we have uncovered. The full report, Coping with COVID-19: Insights from Church Leaders, and infographic with key highlights are available at https://online.ministrybrands.com/#whitepaper .
We are very thankful for the churches that participated in this survey and are grateful for the opportunity to support our faith-based communities through expanded knowledge during the pandemic.
Faith Direct looks forward to continuing navigating these unprecedented times with you. Please reach out to us at (866) 507-8757 or contact us online if we can assist you in any way.
Faith Direct has always been about more than just providing software for Catholic parishes, dioceses, and organizations. At our core, Faith Direct staff are a community of faithful believers who want to help the Church share the Gospel with others and support the ministry of churches everywhere. That’s why our mission is “Inspiring eGiving Today for Tomorrow’s Church”
Remaining focused on our shared mission has been crucial over the last few months at Faith Direct. We have empowered parishes and dioceses coast-to-coast and around the world with our complete Faith Direct eGiving solution and some knowledge sharing and support along the way too. It has been our hope these efforts would help them continue their ministry while many parishes and diocesan offices needed to remain temporarily closed due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Here’s a recap of just some of the resources available to parishes and dioceses as you begin the process of reopening:
Updated guidance from the CDC for churches was released on May 21, 2020. You may access the link for that updated CDC guidance for churches here.
Reopening Church: Touchless Tech for a Safer Reopening webinar recording. The webinar was hosted by Faith Direct’s parent company, Ministry Brands, on May 21, 2020. Contact Faith Direct if you have any questions about the software and resources available to help your parish and the webinar recording is available here.
Free Text-to-Give is now available for All Faith Direct customers to help your parishioners and donors another convenient safe way for them to make donations and provide their weekly tithing without having to turn in an envelope.
Best Practices for Parish eGiving webinar recording from April 7, 2020. This webinar was co-hosted by Faith Direct and ParishSOFT and shows how to fully utilize their eGiving and church management (ChMS) software. The webinar recording is available here.
ParishCast is Faith Direct’s mass communication tool that will allow you to communicate with your parishioners through voice, text, and email due to emergencies or schedule changes. To learn more, contact your Customer Success manager.
Prepare Your Parish for the Coronavirus (COVID-19) webinar recording, webinar slides, and free eBook. The webinar was co-hosted by Faith Direct and our partner ParishSOFT on March 18, 2020. Just submit thisonline form to request your free COVID-19 resources.
With servant hearts, Faith Direct remains focused on helping Catholic parishes, dioceses, and organizations find the best possible solutions to help them during this challenging time. To see if Faith Direct is the right fit for your parish or diocese, we invite you to call 866- 507-8757 or contact us online.
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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.