Do you think Online Giving is useful only for collecting weekly offerings? Many administrators don’t seem to think so. They are tuning in to parishioners’ preferences and unlocking the potential of Online Giving to provide added benefits that parishioners find most useful. Here are just a few examples:
A school run by the Catholic Church in Massachusetts signed up for a separate Online Giving account and took advantage of the merchant account with Sage, payment processor for Online Giving, to sign up for a hot lunch program offered by hotlunch.com. This program provided additional time saving features and benefits to parents as well as students while allowing school administrators to use the latest in technology to streamline their operations and improve efficiency. The school also set up funds in Online Giving for before-school and after-school programs, auctions and Pre-K Extended Stay programs in addition to tuition and hot lunch. Parents who found the electronic giving option so user-friendly and easy to navigate that they went on their church’s Online Giving page and signed up to make online contributions to weekly offertory as well as to other funds set up by the Church.
Another parish in Wisconsin tuned into what was most useful and convenient to parishioners and saw 250 people signing up for Online Giving in less than six months when it introduced school tuition payment option through its Online Giving site. The tuition accounted for 74% of the transactions during that period. Once parents signed up for tuition payment through Online Giving, they found it to be so easy to set up payments, they switched to online donations for weekly offering, capital improvements and holy day collections, among other things. The church in Indiana has a similar success story to share. It signed up twice as many parishioners for Online Giving than another parish just ten miles away because it allowed parents to pay for tuition and athletic events using the ACH option in Online Giving.
Online Giving is not designed to handle all the needs of the school for managing tuition payments and related issues. There are other programs, such as FACTS Tuition Payment, that have features that might be useful to some parents. However, a majority of the parents would rather pay tuition from their bank accounts than sign up for payment to a third party that charges a fee for its services. The fees may make sense to those who need additional services but the ones who prefer to keep their tuition cost as low as possible generally opt for a simpler payment option that does not cost them anything. The cost to the school of providing the tuition option through Online Giving ($0.29 per ACH transaction regardless of the Dollar amount) is relatively insignificant. More importantly, it does not cost the parents anything.
Of all the transactions processed in our Online Giving system in August 2011, little over 42% of the Dollar amount was processed for events and activities other than regular Sunday collections. The most frequent online collections are for:
- Diocesan Annual Appeals
- Building Maintenance
- New Church Building
- Capital Campaigns
- Debt Reduction
- Stewardship Campaigns
- Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Collections
- Lunch Program
- Athletic Events
- Facility Maintenance
- Operating Budget
- Overall Support
- Capital Campaign for New Building
The main goal of the churches or their affiliated schools is to make it convenient to their members to pay for any of the events or services offered by them. In view of the ever-growing use of debit cards and online bill-pay option offered by banks, it is imperative that churches utilize the functionality and features built into Online Giving and get the most out of them.