Thursday, December 8, 2011

Websites and Online Giving Tips for a Great Combination - Like Peanut Butter and Chocolate

This is an updated version of an earlier blog topic
 As we continue to learn from our work with the Archdiocese of Boston, and across the country, your website is your "virtual front door" to your parish. One of the key components of a great parish website is easy access to Online Giving. This past week we talked with several parishes who are very interested in pursuing Online Giving. The website is a significant impediment to their progress rather than a useful tool to enable access to web-based giving.  OSV "Faith In Action" websites are designed to make this easy for you.

Set a Communication Plan

As you prepare to offer web-based giving, you should create the initial communication plan and get the system set up so parishioners can immediately access the application. So one of the steps is to update your website to include information about Online Giving, plus a link that connects to Online Giving. Once you announce that the service is available, you want parishioners to be able to get to Online Giving easily so they can get started right away.
 Incorporate Website Best Practices

Your website must be organized well and easy to navigate. A great parish website can help you improve the acceptance of Online Giving by making it obvious how to get started, easy to access, and by providing useful information about the importance of Online Giving. If your website provides other compelling information about the Faith, then as parishioners access the site for Online Giving, they may also be able to spend time learning more about being a good Catholic!
 Here are a few tips:
  • Display your parish name, city and address and contact information prominently
  • Feature a map to your parish
  • Add information about the Faith
  • Add a section to welcome newcomers
  • Add dynamic information
  • Offer people the opportunity to give a gift! 
 Make Sure Your Website and Online Giving Are Easy to Manage
The parishes I referenced earlier were embarrassed and frustrated by their web sites. The web sites were not compelling and not up to date. The person who is setting up Online Giving did not have the ability to do updates. In a couple cases, the person who updated the website worked part time and was the only person who had access to update the site.

The parish website is the best place to access your online giving application. And we should all be implementing Online Giving at our parishes so that our parishioners have this additional convenient option to contribute to the parish. So we need both. Parish Website and Online Giving. When the website is good and you have your Online Giving link prominently displayed, they work together. That's why the web site and Online Giving are like peanut butter and chocolate, which is one of my personal favorite combinations!

How about your experience with your parish website and Online Giving?

By the way thousands of new parishioners per month are signing up to use OSV's Online Giving at parishes across the country. The average parishioner use for parish is now at 13 to 14% of parishioners, up to a high of more than 50%.

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