Friday, July 19, 2013

Notre Dame Study: conscious decision and habitual systems of giving increase contributions

In their follow on to their celebrated study about Catholic generosity, author and researcher Brian Starks teams up again with professor Christian Smith to understand the components of generosity.  They conclude that people who have made a conscious decision to donate money at some point in their life, combined with the use of habitual and standardized systems of giving (such as offering envelopes or Online Giving) are key factors that directly impact the amount of the financial gift.

"The study, “Steps on the Journey to Becoming a More Generous Person,” published by the Catholic Social and Pastoral Research Initiative (CSPRI) of Notre Dame’s Institute for Church Life and co-authored by Brian Starks, CSPRI director, and Christian Smith, William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Sociology at Notre Dame, found that spontaneous givers were, as a group, less generous than their more systematic counterparts.
“We find that Catholics who are more generous are very likely to have made a prior conscious decision to give more money away and to follow routine, habitual systems of giving,” Starks said. “This suggests that, for other Catholics to become more generous, it would help to do the same.
“Concretely,” Starks continued, “American Catholics who made a conscious decision to give more money away at some prior point in their lives donated three times as much money to religious and nonreligious causes in the previous 12 months as Catholics who said that their financial giving ‘just happened.’"  - from Michael O Garvey, Notre Dame News
If you or your parish are still undecided about using Online Giving, this study provides another substantial reason why Online Giving helps increase offertory.  Online Giving from OSV makes it easy for your parishioners to determine their own gift amounts and set up their own individual accounts for gifts.  This also encourages the parishioner to think about their gift.  In his book "Why Catholics Don't Give and What Can be Done About It", Dr. Chuck Zech describes Online Giving as a pledge because parishioners must make a conscious effort to set up their recurring contributions ahead of time.

In addition to the conscious decision,  Online Giving provides a regular, repeatable schedule for contributions which to some extent goes beyond habitual giving.  With a little extra prompting from the parish to update gift amounts periodically, the combination of habitual and automatic giving results in strong cash flow for the parish.  And the gift amounts are typically larger than last minute Masstime contributions.

(The envelope continues to be an excellent way to reach everyone including Online Givers. We are doing more work on custom designed envelopes to request prayers and to provide education and reminders about Mission.  The envelopes don't have to be used expressly for contributions.  This regular mailing helps to encourage engagement from all parishioners and works to augment the purpose of Online Giving. Couple all this with an Increased Offertory program from OSV and you have a plan that can generate tremendous positive impact!)

In "Becoming a More Generous Person", Starks includes sample graphs that indicate the impact of Intentionality:

Parishes must continue to help parishioners identify financial giving with their Catholic faith and with the mission of the parish.  While we are doing this we also need to find ways to help parishioners make a decision to be generous.  Part of this is by identifying the results of past programs and the plans for what the parish will accomplish over the next period of time.  And some simple instruction and encouragement about using Online Giving and yes, envelopes, reinforced through the parish website can help to educate and encourage parishioners.

You can find this Notre Dame Study at:

And you can see videos from parishes using Online Giving and other tools from OSV at:

Let us know what you are experiencing!

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