Let Us Donate: The Case For Online Donations

This morning I checked in and read Joe Luedtke’s post “Why This Blog Is Important” and one thing (plus others) really stood out to me, “I pay all my bills online except for the check I write each week to the Church. ”  It’s one of those things I’ve been suggesting at my own parish for several years now to no avail.  There are several very beneficial reasons I’ve been suggesting it too.

  1. Statistically donations tend to increase about 15% with Churches that offer this option to parishioners.  What parish doesn’t want to see their donations increase?  Silly question, right?  Right.  There is typically a transaction fee which is usually a small percentage of each transaction, but this costs is “wiped out” by the increase in donations and other cost savings.
  2. Automate the giving process for parishioners.  Online giving solutions typically allow parishioners to set up automatic withdrawals for the amount they choose.  No having to worry about having checks written while you’re trying to get the kids ready to get  to Mass.
  3. Reduces workloads in your office at tax time.  No need to worry about getting those statements out as parishioners can access and print their own records.  With this you also reduce costs of printing and mailing.
So how do you set this up at a parish?  It’s actually pretty simple.   There a number of companies which provide this for churches and once the account is established you can easily add the link with a nice looking graphic right on the front page of your website.  Here’s two companies that I know of  that offer online giving solutions and are focused on churches:
  1. WeShare which is provided by Liturgical Publications
  2. Qpay Online Giving by Quancomm which is partnered with Parish Data Soft if your parish uses that database software system.
  3. EasyTithe
If your parish is already using online giving, what’s been your experience?  What service do they use?
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Author:Brad West

I live in Palm Coast, FL with my family and have assisted my local parish with our website and communications. Our parishes today can benefit a great deal from technology. Whether it's improving communications, community building, evangelizing, business operations, and much more; we have the tools today. To help provide some direction and advice to parishes and parishioners, I wrote and published an eBook titled "The Connected Church" which is available through Barnes and Noble (Nooks and Nook apps) as well as Amazon (Kindle and Kindle apps).
  • http://www.jonathanfsullivan.com/ Jonathan F. Sullivan

    We have automated online giving at my parish, and I understand the benefits. That having been said, I still stand by my earlier blog post (catholictechtalk.com/blog/2011/03/29/why-i-still-use-my-sunday-envelope) and say that, for families with children, there is a strong catechetical component to “putting the envelope in the basket.”

    • Joe Luedtke

      Jonathan,
       Absolutely right on the catechetical component.  There’s also an emotional embarrassment factor in just ignoring the plate as it passes you by as well.  LPi has an online donation product, WeShare.  Our product and many of the competitors out there, (e.g. ParishPay and ParishSoft’s Online Giving) offer the ability to print out an online donation slip to drop into the basket.  These slips aren’t needed to support the online donation or financial processes, but do help with the other softer issues.  These donation slips get used quite frequently for the first few months once a church implements an online donation system and then after that tend to fall to the wayside.  This tells me the embarrassment of letting the basket pass you by wanes, but you’re concern still may remain.

      • Brad

        Thanks for pointing WeShare out, Joe.  I missed that one.  Litrugical Publications puts out quite a few great products.  I like the WeConnect product also.  I particularly like the idea of printing the donation slip for the basket.  Jonathan makes great points about teaching children about money and giving.  It is getting more and more difficult as parents as we use cards so much anymore. 

  • Craig

    I appreciate the fact my archdiocese has an online donation option for special causes – natural disasters, priest retirement funds, etc.

  • http://www.productivecatholic.com Dean Soto

    You hit the nail right on the head!  So many parishes need to get on board with this not just from a tithing aspect, but also when other things are needed within the parish community (emergencies, etc.).

    This is why Parishes need to move away from the bulletin alone too and head toward using email newsletters where you can integrate donations into your campaigns, etc.

    • Joe Luedtke

      Dean,

      Email newsletters! Now there’s a topic that we need to explore.  There’s a few churches starting to do this right and a wealth of tools available (many free or near free such as MailChimp and Constant Contact).

      • Deanna Bartalini

        I use Constant Contact and it is great.  We still do a weekly bulletin though.  I use email newsletters to focus on the main things I want to call parishioners attention to, while the bulletin has everything in it.

        • Brad

          I really like Constant Contact especially now that it ties in with PDS.  I think your use is perfect.  The bulletin shouldn’t be disregarded and is an important means of communication in the parish.  Email provides another great avenue which can more timely and very wide-reaching.  Email is very efficient, effective, cost effective, etc. 

    • Brad

      I definitely agree that we can better leverage the new avenues we have.  The bulletin is a great example of that.  Wait for the QR Code post I have coming up.  Here’s one I personally would like to see with bulletins . . . a mobile version.  

      Craig pointed out a service called Issuu.com which converts publications into digital and mobile!  So how cool would that be to get your bulletin delivered as a mobile version?  Would readership go up?  

  • Pingback: We Gather Together To Scan? 5 Ways Parishes Can Use QR Codes | Catholic Tech Talk()

  • Deanna Bartalini

    I use Our Sunday Visitor for on-line giving.  It helps, but even with our demographics (35 is the median age) we capture about 5% of our contributing parishioners.

    • Joe Luedtke

      Deanna,

      The industry average is only 15%, so 5% isn’t that bad. The very
      first mentor I had specialized in Change Management and he had a mantra
      he would always push when it comes to change, “relentless, relentless
      communication”. When introducing something new like online giving you
      probably can’t over communicate here.

      • Brad

        I couldn’t agree more with Joe, Deanna.  From a “management” perspective, it’s definitely an area you can “drill down” to see is causing the barrier.  By this I mean the following:

        1. Set a goal.  I agree that a good goal would be to increase participation by 10% (reaching that 15% participation goal or 15% increase in overall giving) within 12 months.
        2. Drill down the barriers by asking and answering these questions:

        – Are parishioners aware of the program?  If I am locating your correct parish online, there is opportunity here.  Our Sunday Visitor provides a great graphic for the front page of that beautiful website.  I would recommend on the left navigation area.  You can supplement this with a page that highlights features and benefits for the parish and parishioners.  Likewise, make it a focus in the bulletin.

        – What are parishioner hesitations?  This is about asking people either through direct conversations, surveys, or a combination of both.  When you get this information, you can focus your promotional communications to overcome those objections.  For example, security may be one.  Focus on “VeriSign” that the service uses for protection.  

        – Is there a clear promotion program that is on-going?  Reach out to those using the service and ask them for their opinion.  You can then put real people associated with the program (with their permission of course) that adds credibility to it for you parish.  Is it being communicated in the bulletin on-going?  Are the benefits promoted via your Facebook page?  Is it tied in with other donation programs and getting partnerships with ministries to use this for giving to their programs (if possible)?  

        Just some thoughts and I hope this helps.  

    • http://www.4lpi.com Joe Luedtke

      Deanna,

      The industry average is only 15%, so 5% isn’t that bad. The very first mentor I had specialized in Change Management and he had a mantra he would always push when it comes to change, “relentless, relentless communication”. When introducing something new like online giving you probably can’t over communicate here.

  • Daniel

    Great ideas, our church uses a company called Webconnex. They are a small company located is Sacramento, California. We love it because if one of our less tech savvy workers needs help we can just call. They also have BIG discounts for churches.