Skip to main content
asking for donations

Storytelling and Transparency Encourage Giving

Consistent, regular donations help fuel your church and its mission, but asking for money can be uncomfortable and even intimidating. Your confidence in making the ask can be boosted by one simple technique: transparency.

Through our experiences and best practices, we have compiled four simple Steps to Success for being transparent with parishioners to help you receive the offertory your church needs to grow and thrive.

1. Tell Them Why

The most important part of transparency is telling your donors how their gifts are being used. People can be hesitant to donate their hard earned money if they don’t know what that gift is going towards.

How can you do this most effectively? There are plenty of ways to demonstrate your need for the money necessary to keep your organization operating, many of which can be tailored to your audience. Examples include:

  1. Putting together a complete list of expenses and make it readily available. Depending on your circumstances, you can keep an updated list on your website, in your bulletin, or anywhere you know your parishioners will see it.
  2. Highlighting one expense per month on which to focus your fundraising efforts.  Tackling expenses one at a time helps keep folks from getting overwhelmed and draws attention to individual, tangible needs.
  3. Placing GiveCentral enrollment forms (or instructions on how to register online) in frequently-used spaces and places where people naturally congregate to chat after Mass.

Through our experience at GiveCentral, we have witnessed a variety of ways to showcase the funds needed to keep church doors open. Check out our list of Giving Ideas for some additional inspiration.

2. Ask for Donations

Now that you have told your donors why you need the money, it’s time to ask for donations. To some this may feel a bit uncomfortable, but by maintaining a level of transparency about what the funds are going towards it will become easier to show parishioners why they want to give. Explain why their donations are so important to your ongoing mission and day-to-day operations, and consider trying some of our Giving Ideas as new ways to ask for donations.

When you are asking for new donations, be sure to share specific details about your initiatives. Who will they help? What support systems will be put in place? How will your efforts make an impact on the community? Research has shown that when you can demonstrate a donor’s personal connection to a cause, the more likely they are to say “yes” to supporting that cause.

One way to make asking for donations easier is to spread out the work.  People say that friends and family hold the most influence over where they donate their time and money, so tap into your community for vocal supporters and ask them if they are willing to help advocate on your behalf. These trustworthy messengers can boost the transparency of your message by speaking authentically and impartially about the good work you do.

3. Say Thank You

Immediately after receiving a donation, sending a letter of thanks is a must that shows them your appreciation and acknowledges their support. GiveCentral’s receipts are automatically sent after each donation is made, and they do say “Thank You,” but a personal message from you makes all the difference.

And of course, the first letter of thanks should not be the only one. Every few months, thank your donors again. Whether it be via email, letter, card or phone call, get in touch with them just to say thanks for their generosity and for their participation in your activities. This is a great opportunity to tell them (perhaps again) how much their donations have helped your organization accomplish. And remember, this shouldn’t be used as a platform to ask them to give again but simply an acknowledgement of your gratitude.

4. Provide Updates

While you’ve already told your donors where the money is going, it’s just as important that they see their gifts put to use. This is truly transparency in action: you asked them for a gift, told them what you would use it for, and are now ready to show them the results.

For example, if they were donating to make repairs to the church, consider how you will send updates on the status of those repairs. If they donated to help fund church groups, have members of the group speak about the impact of donations or write a note to include in your newsletter. Seeing the outcome of their donations will make people feel more comfortable donating again as well as form a connection between your parish, their donation, and the fantastic results.

GiveCentral offers tools and support to help you send email updates, which help keep donors up-to-date on the initiatives they are helping to support. Learn more about our communication portal here, or participate in our discussion community.

Ideas to Encourage Online Giving

Ideas to Encourage Online Giving

Your donors want to support you, but they need to know what you need. They know your parish needs money, but how can you best express this to encourage giving?

Here are some creative ideas for communicating your expenses and their effect on the parish community:

Explanatory

These ideas reinforce your message of need with repetition, making your message familiar:

  • Discuss your message of need with your pastor, and ask him to consider weaving this message into his homily.
  • Place an advertisement in your bulletin asking parishioners to contribute to a specific initiative. Include a link they can type into their browser that goes to your GiveCentral page. (Try a link shortener to save space.)
  • Print up flyers with messages of stewardship and place them around your church, activity hall, and school (if you have one). Time and talent are just as important as treasure… it’s not always about the money, but connecting donors to your community events is shown to encourage giving when the time comes.
  • Send an email “newsletter” with messages about your various initiatives. Is your Women’s Club holding a flower sale? Are you raising money to repair the church steps? Is your choir holding auditions soon?

Interactive

These ideas ask your donors to take action on the spot:

  • Make sure to have a prominent link to your GiveCentral page on your parish website!
  • Place giving forms in the pews to encourage them to register for online giving. (Make sure to make it clear where the forms should be dropped off.)
  • Post helpers at the back of church after Mass to distribute registration cards or instruction sheets for online giving.
  • Hold a “Stewardship Table” in the church lobby or entryway to talk to people about online giving. If you can, have a computer or tablet available to help parishioners to sign up then and there.
  • Use social media to convey your message of giving! Facebook now lets you post a donation button (only for Pages), and you can also share links to GiveCentral on Twitter. People love photos, so you can share pictures of your events and the results of your campaigns.
  • Send a short email with a specific giving request. Include a link directly to the fund you’d like them to support on GiveCentral.

Demonstrative

These ideas show, rather than tell, what happens without giving:

  • What if you couldn’t pay your electric bill? Turn the lights and/or air conditioning off during Mass.
  • What if you couldn’t pay your gas bill in winter? Hold Mass with the heat turned low in the church. (Keep Sunday school and day care warm, of course!)
  • What if you couldn’t pay for songbooks? Remove the songbooks from the back of the pews… and consider replacing them with GiveCentral donation forms.
  • What if you couldn’t pay for music? Hold Mass with no choir or cantor to lead the parish in song.
  • What if the church had to close? Lock the doors of the church one Sunday and hold mass outside.
  • What if you had to merge with another church? Have congregations from two parishes attend the same Mass at one church
  • What if you could only afford one Mass? Hold just one mass on a particular Sunday (announced in advance, certainly).
  • What if you couldn’t pay for printing? Conspicuously remove all bulletins and flyers from the church for one week.
  • What if you couldn’t afford landscape maintenance? Consider letting the church lawns grow out, with a lawn sign explaining why.

And as always, remember that your donors want to know where their money is going. Let them know your plans for their donations, and also the outcomes. Show them the great results, and they’ll be encouraged to give again.

Do you have more ideas for encouraging giving? What has worked at your parish? Let us know in the comments, we can add them to the list!

fundraising training

Announcing New Parish Training for Holiday Fundraising Success

Did you know some parishes now receive up to 60 percent of donations online?

Research shows that churches lag behind in offering online giving as an option, so we’re inviting leaders in Catholic stewardship to learn how. We know your focus is to fulfill your parish’s mission and we think GiveCentral can help by making fundraising easier and more productive.Our upcoming Christmas Giving Series helps parishes learn how to increase donations with the use of GiveCentral.

How do we help? Let me share an example:

This past April, GiveCentral helped numerous parishes dramatically increase Sunday giving, generating over $100,000 in additional donations – and all it took was a little training from us.GiveCentral guided the participating parishes every step of the way, from initial training to identifying and reaching out to donors who had not previously given during the Easter season.By sending just a single email, this small select group of participating parishes saw an increase of 323 percent in online Easter donations.

Because of this success, we have decided to expand our training program. We have extended an invitation to select parishes to participate in our upcoming 2015 Christmas Giving training series. Check your inbox (or your mailbox) for your invitation!We can support up to 100 parishes in this training class, coming together remotely via webinars, conference calls and email. Through this pilot program, the participating parishes will be trained on how to dramatically increase Christmas donations by:

  • Effectively collecting email addresses of donors
  • Implementing simple, multi-phased email communication techniques
  • Incorporating seasonal donor gift giving strategies

Our next class will start in just a few weeks. We can only accommodate 100 parishes in our kickoff training, which begins on September 17th.

Are you interested in joining an online training series like this one?

GiveCentral exists to help parishes like yours fulfill their missions and we would be honored to help you increase your Christmas donations this season.To express your interest in this FREE training series, just click here before September 15th to see if we can fit you in.