As summer begins to wind down, many parishes are reviewing their books and evaluating their “summer slump” in giving and Mass attendance. In many parts of the country, this slump occurs over three months of the year, where in places with a heavy Snowbird population, this slump can last six to eight months of the year.
The best defense against the summer slump is a good offense. How can you ensure that your parish does not face this problem next year?
Set up an online giving program and make it the preferred way of giving
With online, scheduled giving, parishioners are able to donate to the parish regularly, whether they are attending Mass or not. Many people pay their bills online these days and will be happy to give to the parish regularly and automatically. Parishioners want to participate in the financial stewardship of their church, and this allows them to do so easily every week, whether they attend Mass or not.
Just setting up the online program will not create online givers. You must educate your parishioners on the benefits of this new program and encourage them to sign up. Let them know that this is your preferred way of receiving donations. Every Sunday, when taking up the collection, it is important to thank everyone who has donated online, as well as through the offertory basket. Keep information regarding this program in your bulletin on a weekly basis, on your website and send updates via email with a link providing additional information and commonly asked questions along with your responses.
Once your parishioners have been informed, ask them to consider giving through this online program. Discuss the multiple ways of giving online, such as mobile apps. For those who want to participate online, yet like the tradition of giving through the basket, they can continue to receive envelopes and check a box stating they have given online. It is important to explain why online giving is the best way for the parish to budget throughout the year.
When you begin receiving donations from parishioners this way, send them a quick email to say thank you. This may be an automated feature that can be added to your program. Continue to thank parishioners throughout the year for all the ways they give back to the parish.
It is also important to demonstrate that the leadership of the parish are being good stewards of the gifts parishioners are entrusting to them. In addition to presenting the annual financial report, make it a point throughout the year to show how contributions are being utilized to positively impact the parish. Everyone realizes the need for salaries, insurance, utilities, etc., but emphasize how people in the parish and the community at large are impacted through the numerous ministries, programs and outreach that function daily because of the money donated to the offertory. Transparent, accurate and regular financial updates will build and keep trust, and ensure accountability to your parish donors.
You might not be able to regulate summer attendance, but with a bit of work you can begin to regulate summer giving.
End of the Year Giving
Now is the time to begin the discussion
Do not wait until December to discuss End of the Year Giving. Now is the time to start these discussions with your parishioners and include updates on your website and in your bulletin.
If you are considering an online giving program in the fall, be sure to incorporate discussions regarding End of the Year giving.