Friday, September 27, 2013

Celebrating Parish Community: tell your story using web site best practices

We just returned from the International Catholic Stewardship conference in Dallas.  This event is a great way to gain updates on what is happening in parishes and dioceses across the country, to reconnect with friends, and to be uplifted spiritually.

Our theme this year was "Celebrating Parish Community",  which we will continue to use as part of our focus over the next months.  As we work with parishes and dioceses we see many examples of exciting and dynamic organizations.  They engage their parishioners in their mission and direction and as a result accomplish exciting and transformational work.  We decided to write about four of those who were able to transform themselves because of their leadership and staff with the support of OSV Offertory Solutions products and services.

Chuck Zech refers to "financial transparency and accountability" in his work on Catholic Giving and stewardship.  Al Winseman describes the hierachy of engagement starting with "What do I get" and proceeding to the highest level: "Where are we going".  Clif Christopher and St. Augustine both agree that the purpose of church is to "Change Lives".  And the Notre Dame study I covered in my last post emphasizes the importance of demonstrating and describing what we accomplish in our parishes as a way for people to feel connected and empowered.

All this research suggests that each parish must tell the story about what is happening to change lives at that parish.  A great place to start is on the parish website.  When someone visits your parish are they able to tell what you are doing, your key focus,  and where you are going?

Here are a few points to consider:

1. Use images that capture what is important or iconic at your parish
2. Include a tool like "Google translator" to allow for multiple languages on your site
3. Update your site regularly with descriptions of what you have accomplished  including both financial results (as appropriate) and impact to people, parish and community. 

Tell us what you are doing with your parish website!