Friday, August 5, 2011

A Tale of Two Churches

Here is an interesting story I would like to share with you. What we have are two Catholic churches that have been using Our Sunday Visitor’s (OSV’s) Online Giving for a year. They are about the same size, within about 10 miles of each other and they both launched Online Giving at about the same time. However, one processed more than twice the dollar amount in online transactions than the other. So we decided to learn more about their experience with Online Giving.

As of July 1, 2011, 350 parishioners at one church have switched to giving online while the other, more affluent church was able to sign up only 225 people in the same time frame. Also, the one with more families has processed over $750,000 in online contributions while the other church processed less than $300,000. This is remarkable considering the fact that the first church does not even offer credit card option for giving while the second one does.

When you dig deeper into the transactions, however, the reasons become quite obvious. The first church has allowed parents to pay for school tuition and hot lunch programs using Online Giving. They also set up funds to allow parents to pay for various athletic events. These payments made up more than half of the total payments processed online.

According to the church officials, there are two distinct advantages in using Online Giving for processing payments for various activities in addition to weekly offertory:
  1. Parishioners do not have to write checks for payment, nor does the church have to process them manually. The bank has now started charging the church to process checks, so fewer checks means lower cost to the church.
  2. As parents make payments to the school or for athletic activities through Online Giving, they realize how easy it is and they have now started using it for their weekly offertory. Those giving online do not miss the weekly offertory when they set up their gift with the recurring weekly option. The yearly offering for a family giving online will increase as much as 30% (52 weeks of online giving vs. 40 weeks of checks when the family attends the Sunday Mass).
Many parishioners have commented that the only checks they wrote in the past were to the church. They like the convenience of giving electronically and the church stands to benefit too as its weekly collections go up significantly. This is a true win-win situation.

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