Friday, August 17, 2012

Will You Vote in this Election? 3 points to Motivate Giving Online

I was reading an article yesterday that featured people who were not planning to vote in the presidential election this year.  There were a variety of reasons ranging from "don't like either candidate" to "not going to bother".  I was fascinated that a number of people had an opinion about who they would like to have serve as our President but were not planning to vote.

At the other extreme we have volunteers in both parties who are fiercely focused on their cause and are fully engaged in the campaign of their preferred person.

This sounds to me like a cross section of any given parish and the attitudes of the parishioner base.  We have a group of parishioners who are committed to the parish and the cause and are involved deeply in the community of the parish.  And we have many who are not engaged and don't plan to bother. 

I think the difference is in how the parish appeals to the gifts, priorities and needs of parishioners.  When people have a cause they care about,  they become active and engaged.  When there is conflict or emergency or perceived urgency,  we find ways to respond.  Kind of like election times.

I have seen a couple interesting reports in the past few weeks that provide pertinent information.  The first, from CARA,  indicates the distribution of ages of who attends Mass:

When we are appealing to parishioners in the pews,  we must consider their experience base.  The age groups represented have been accepting Online Giving but also are comfortable with offering envelopes.  The 9% millenial group has a very different view.

The second report indicated trends in tools used for contributions:

So we see strong acceptance of Online Giving types of applications, approaching the use of envelopes.  Has this been the experience at your parish? 

Our OSV data indicate that 10% is a pretty good expectation for the number of parishioners who use Online Giving as their preferred method.  So taking a lesson from the behavior of people for this years election,  maybe we need to find the motivation for people to use Online Giving.

Here are 3 points that you can use to motivate parishioners:

1.  It is simple for them.  Once they set it up it is easy to change at any time.  Contributions recur automatically

2.  It helps the parish.  Overall giving increases because of consistently scheduled gifts and a more thoughtful contribution from the parishioner.  Staff time and money handling is reduced.

3.  Access is convenient.  Parishioners can contribute from any location with internet access at any time.

Its time to vote in the election.  While we are at it lets show our vote for our parishes and give online.

Friday, August 3, 2012

A lesson from the Olympics; Key points for engaging parishioners

As I have grabbed a few minutes here and there to watch the Olympics competition,  I found myself emotionally involved with some of the races and the results even when I knew the final outcome. As it turns out, this was generated in part by the "human interest" backgrounds provided about some of the competitors.  I am not a fan of reality shows and, frankly, have stopped watching some of my past favorites because they had introduced so much content about the people in place of the action.

Yet here I am, taking in the information and getting involved in the story.

It occurs to me that the technique and my reaction are consistent with recommendations from the Bishops pastoral letter on Stewardship, research by Chuck Zech and Villanova University, and our own past recommendations about getting parishioners to use Online Giving!  I'm sure you wonder how I arrived at this connection...

Here are a couple points to consider:

1. Use Lay Witness talks.  People respond to other people much more deeply than to a concept. The purpose of the lay witness talk is for a person to tell their story.  Those who share perspective and life experience with the lay witness will respond and react.  This was the reaction I was having to some of the Olympic competitors.  So use people in the parish to talk about their experience with Online Giving (and of course other spiritual topics).  If your parishioners share their experience it becomes more real and accessible for others.

2. Appeal to peoples need to give.  We have a deep need to respond through our actions, prayer and financial contributions.  Yet the triggers for our response are different for each of us, rooted in our formation and life experience, and our interests and priorities.  As part of the stewardship process and also to gain acceptance for your Online Giving application, your parish must appeal to this need to give by making the connection to parishioner priorities, interests and experience.  Back to point number 1.  The lay witness talk or "human interest" story is a great way to make this connection.

So as you embark on your journey with Online Giving, consider the Olympics.  Online Giving provides convenience and security for parishioners, and consistent cash flow for the parish. Yet even those of us with good intentions may not take the step to do the simple registration.  We need the extra reminder and push to make that effort.  The parish can help by providing Olympic moments - stories from parishioners about their experience that help the rest of us realize that using Online Giving would be a pleasure rather than a burden.

And ultimately the great works we can do as a parish with the gifts we all share!

Have you had any Olympic moments?  Please share.