Monday, June 25, 2012

New study results: Online plus direct contributions are best

I was very interested to read the 2011 donorCentrics Internet and Multichannel Giving Benchmarking Report that was released recently from Target Analytics.   While this research is focused on fundraising of all types,  I think it applies to parish contributions.

Several points in the summary of findings are what we would expect:
  • Online-acquired donors are significantly younger and tend to have higher household incomes that mail-acquired donors.
  • Online-acquired donors tend to give much larger gifts than mail-acquired donors.
But here was one of the big points to note:
  • Robust direct mail programs drive up the retention and long-term value of new donors acquired online. Without the ability to become multi-channel givers by renewing their support via direct mail, this group of donors would be worth far less. Other than monthly recurring giving programs, established direct mail programs area the best method for gaining repeat gifts from online-acquired donors.
 This next chart shows that while there is a significant percentage of online donations there is still a far greater percentage of donations from mail:

  So why do I think this is pertinent to parishes?  
          1.  Online giving attracts a younger and likely more affluent group of people.  While our data indicate that every age group uses Online Giving,  this is still our best way to engage younger people to contribute financially to our parishes.
          2.   We should continue to emphasize envelopes.  Think of them as ongoing direct mail.  Parishioners may want to use both Online Giving and Envelopes for various reasons. And if the parish has other projects then mail is a very effective medium. 

This is all kind of analytical -  in the end we must engage our parishioner base in our parish by focusing on our formation and by accomplishing our mission as Church.  At a more superficial level,  we do need to make the best use of the tools available to us.  This is also good stewardship!

Tell me how your parish makes use of electronic services, envelopes and direct mail...

Friday, June 1, 2012

Increase the Effectiveness of Online Giving; Advantages of Merchant Accounts

It's exciting to hear how parishes are using Online Giving!  Many are incorporating Online Giving with their new Faith In Action websites from Our Sunday Visitor for maximum impact.  We held a customer advisory panel meeting recently and heard an idea to get parishioners to give to special collections.  The parish sends out an email at the beginning of each month explaining which special or one-time collections are available that month for contributions.  This gives them an opportunity to encourage parishioners to give to those collections while also reminding them to sign in to make their donation.  Works great!.  That particular parish has seen steady growth and acceptance of Online Giving.

Also remember to thank your parishioners for using Online Giving.  Oh,  and while you are at it thank them for using envelopes!  This is an opportunity to explain why the parish encourages the use of these tools,  and how they help the parish.  Explain what's printed on the envelope and why.   Note the special box to check indicating "gave electronically"  so parishioners can participate in the liturgy.  Its possible to add other types of gifts to the envelope,  such as prayer or shared time that parishioners would like to note in addition to giving electronically.

Merchant Accounts

If you are evaluating your Merchant Account setup,  then remember to look at the cash flow and the timing of processing for your account.  With Online Giving you are assured that parishioner contributions are processed immediately and funds are not stored in escrow.  You also are assured that your parish risk is minimized.  In an environment where your provider is serving as the parish merchant of record, a problem at any parish is a problem for ALL parishes.  Its compounded if funds are stored in escrow.

As the merchant you also can incorporate other services to support your bookstore or possibly credit card scanners and be confident that you are both compliant and secure.

How are things working at your parish?  let us know!

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