Advent is almost here! We’ll be sending out tips throughout the season to help you make the most of this special (and busy) time in your parish’s calendar year.
TIP 1:Streamline your fundraising plan
Did you know that the average parish more than doubles Mass attendance during this season? To prepare for all of those returning parishioners—and the new ones, too—make sure you have a firm and workable fundraising plan in place. GiveCentral has recently rolled out new products to help you collect your data in one place, raise funds via a donor app, crowdfund quickly in case of emergency, and more. Make sure you’re set up with all the new products you need to make this season of giving a stress-free one. After all, parishioners are eager to donate during Advent; make sure it’s as easy for them (and you) as possible. If you’d like to talk to us at GiveCentral about how you can improve your fundraising, get in touch.
TIP 2: curate your social media
Advent is still a week away, and the calm before the storm is a great time to give your social media a little facelift. Make sure your passwords are secure, that you’ve delegated people to update your various accounts, that you have a reasonable posting schedule in place, and that you’re following influencers in your field (whether that’s neighboring parish accounts or the Pope himself.) This is also a good week to use all of your social media platforms to direct parishioners to your GiveCentral page. Remind them that they can set up individual or recurring gifts any time using your direct link.
TIP 3: Recommend some great Advent readings
Since the Christmas season is when many lapsed or curious Catholics return to the church, this is a beneficial time to recommend some inspiring seasonal readings (or songs) to your parishioners, who may be yearning for inspiration found outside of Mass. Guide them toward the beautiful text of the O Antiphons, which Catholics have been singing since at least the 8th century. For a compilation of perspectives on Advent, there’s Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas, that pulls together daily Advent readings fromC. S. Lewis, Madeleine L’Engle, Thomas Merton, Bernard of Clairvaux, and more. Or recommend some of your own favorites.
TIP 4: Encourage almsgiving
The Christmas season can be aconsumeristictime—which is why it’s important to remind your parishioners that good deeds, generosity, and almsgiving (donating money or other goods to the poor and other acts of charity) are an integral part of this season. In fact, the Catechism of the Catholic Church calls almsgiving “a witness to fraternal charity” and “a work of justice pleasing to God.” If your parish is raising funds for a particular charity, let your parishioners know during Mass that they can donate via your unique GiveCentral link. If you’re fundraising for something particularly critical, try GiveCentral Crowdfunding, which works in conjunction with our GiveCentral online donation tool. It lets you customize and publish your own unique crowdfunding page, set goals and a timeline for each particular campaign, and easily integrate it with your social media accounts—at a third of the cost of other leading crowdfunding tools. And be sure to remind your parishioners that even the simplest acts—like inviting people who have no family nearby into their homes—are also worthy of the season.
TIP 5: Stay extra-connected
During this season, your church will be flooded by new parishioners and people returning to the church after an entire year away. The presence of unfamiliar faces in the pews means it’s extra-important to make sure the entire congregation feels seen and loved. Utilize your communication channels—emails, social media, announcements made during Mass—to spread the word that everyone is welcome and appreciated at all of your Advent services. For example, you can use one of our GiveCentral email templates to send out Christmas greetings, or print a welcome message in the bulletin. Advent can bring out a host of complicated feelings in churchgoers, so it’s a vital time to remind them that they are truly where they belong.
TIP 6: Don’t forget about logistics
A packed congregation comes with its own set of logistical challenges, so make sure that parish staff and volunteers are ready to greet newcomers with a big smile. Have plenty of ushers on hand to out bulletins and/or information collection cards. Prepare overflow rooms and make sure you have wheelchair-accessible seating. Place volunteers in the parking lot to assist with parking, or in the narthex to direct parishioners toward drinking fountains and restrooms. Another nice touch is picking familiar hymns that all can sing together, no matter how long it’s been since they’ve attended church.
TIP 7: Suggest spiritual and non-spiritual charitable activities
While Advent is a perfect time for almsgiving, or acts of charity, keep in mind that some of your new or returning parishioners may still feel a bit uncomfortable around explicitly religious activities. Thankfully, acts of charity don’t have to be openly spiritual to be worthwhile. Advent is a great time to direct your parishioners to non-spiritual acts of compassion, such as serving dinner at homeless shelters, helping an immigrant family learn their way around the city, visiting the sick, or volunteering at center for troubled teens. If you’d like to raise funds for a specific charity (or a need within your community), use GiveCentral Crowdfunding, which lets you customize and publish your own unique crowdfunding page and raise funds, fast.
TIP 8: Make time for the quiet
The Advent season is a time of sparkling lights, loud caroling, and friends and family tramping through the house—but it’s also a time to reflect. Remind your parishioners to take a few minutes every day for spiritual reflection and prayer. You may even want to offer a few minutes of silence from the pulpit so that your entire congregation can enjoy the benefits of quiet contemplation together.