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GiveCentral's 2016 Insights on Nonprofit Giving report uncovers Americans’ charitable giving habits.
Email Communication

Holiday Email Adds a Big Boost to Year-Round Growth

The GiveCentral team’s goal is to help all of our client organizations to raise more, and we see a tremendous opportunity to improve donor retention rates over traditional payment methods like cash and checks. Earlier this year, we engaged hundreds of parishes in an exercise to test the power of communication to bring back donors who have stopped giving. Using the free email communication portal available to every GiveCentral client, we were able to demonstrate the potential of sending a single message before an important holiday.In the days before Easter Sunday 2015, we helped participating parishes send a message to their online donors who had not yet signed up to make an Easter donation to their parish. Each parish used GiveCentral’s free communication portal and email templates. The simple messages encouraged recipients to find their church on GiveCentral and make a donation.comparison graph: increase in fundraising between organizations who sent email vs. those who did notParticipating parishes saw a sustained increase in giving, growing by more than 9 percent on average over the following six months. That is nearly five times faster than the parishes that did not send an email.

  • 750 new donors responded to the call to give online.
  • Participating parishes saw a 323 percent increase in online Easter donations.
  • A single parish signed up 57 new donors with one email.

Communicating regularly is one of the most effective ways to raise more for your organization, and never is that more true than ahead of major holidays like Christmas and Easter. All you have to do is ask.

Download a case study of this great success story here.

Giving Tuesday: December 1, 2015

Giving Tuesday: Giving Thanks and Giving Back

Here at GiveCentral, we are really looking forward to the Thanksgiving holiday this year. It brings us all together in so many different ways with its simple focus on being thankful. Now, thanks to Giving Tuesday, which happens on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving week, there is a great focal point for expressing our thanks, and for kicking off the holiday giving season.

This global day of giving, created by 92nd Street YMCA in 2012, is in its fourth year. The growing movement brings together communities to work for a common mission to help give back, and each year, more and more organizations are joining the effort. Honestly, after the spending frenzy of Black Friday and the holiday weekend, Giving Tuesday is a bit of a needed reset for each of us!

At GiveCentral, we share the sentiment and the spirit behind Giving Tuesday, and we are going to help you and your organization take advantage of the excitement around it to rally your donors. While many of you have appeals and holiday giving programs running, Giving Tuesday can be a fun, one-off opportunity to get folks excited, and to increase giving.

If you’re wondering how to best highlight this global mission, here are a few of our tips to get you started.

  1. Key Messaging

It’s crucial to know your audience and their key values to tailor your Giving Tuesday messaging. Position Giving Tuesday as a universal day to celebrate and encourage giving, while using personal anecdotes that will resonate with your audience. The goal of your messaging should always be to effectively get your donor base to believe in your mission.


GiveCentral Best Practice Tip: Don’t be afraid to share what the donated funds will be used for. Sharing that the funds will be used towards a new playground or to fix the roof can drastically help increase funds. Donors are more likely to give when they can relate to what their funds are going toward.


  1. Communicate

Whether it’s a note in your bulletin, a handout, text message or email, be sure to maximize all of your communication platforms to share your Giving Tuesday mission. Educate your audience on what Giving Tuesday is and how they can get involved to make Giving Tuesday a success for your organization.


GiveCentral Best Practice Tip: Don’t forget to say thank you! A personalized thank you for a donation is an effective way to turn a one-time donor into a lifelong supporter. GiveCentral makes it easy for organizations by sending automatically customized thank you notes after each donation.


  1. Engage Your Resources

It takes a village! Don’t go at your campaign alone. Create a committee of individuals who are energized and excited to make Giving Tuesday a success for your organization. Leverage these individuals to be key communicators of your campaign through word of mouth, social media and more!


GiveCentral Best Practice Tip: Take advantage of the smartphone phenomenon and directly connect to your donors through GiveCentral’s Text-To-Connect platform. Texts are sent to your custom cell phone number to collect information and donations to take your Giving Tuesday campaign to the next level.


  1. Get Social

Giving Tuesday is catching momentum across the globe on social media. Jump in the conversation and share your story. Create tailored Facebook posts and Tweets to remind your followers of Giving Tuesday and your mission while gaining new followers.


GiveCentral Best Practice Tip: Create a personalized hashtag for your Giving Tuesday campaign for donors to easily tag, track and share!


With these tips, your organization will be well on its way to helping members celebrate Giving Tuesday and get into the holiday giving spirit!

GiveCentral new fundraising partner Christian Brothers Services

Fundraising Partner : GiveCentral with Christian Brothers Services

GiveCentral is proud to announce its new fundraising partner – Christian Brothers Services (CBS).

Christian Brothers Services is a nonprofit, Catholic organization that administers cooperative programs in the areas of health, retirement, property/casualty, information and technology services, Catholic School Management and consulting. We are particularly excited to promote CBS’ parish and school web templates, which will help our client organizations improve their web presences and online giving practices.

“This agreement marks an exciting collaboration between both companies to better serve our Catholic client base by providing expanded and enhanced services.”

Patrick Coleman, President and CEO

As fundraising partners, GiveCentral and CBS will be able to provide members and clients “with a unique, multi-faceted set of offerings,” said Brother Michael Quirk, FSC, Ed.D., president and CEO of Christian Brothers Services. “By joining forces we are able to leverage both groups’ expertise for our members.”

You may view our official press release here.

Advent

A Parish Plan for Advent

This liturgical season is an occasion for many to revisit their faith. Throughout your Advent services, and especially on Christmas, it is important to reach out to the parishioners you see less often. Along with Easter, this is one of the best times to rekindle a person’s relationship with the Church.Not coincidentally, this is also the time to prepare for fundraising success in 2016.

Let GiveCentral help you with your Advent plan

  1. Welcome Them Home

    Let returning parishioners know that you’re glad to see them, and hope they’ll be around more during the rest of the year. Address them during announcements at Mass, if not during the homily.

  2. Get in Touch

    Ask everyone to provide their latest contact information (especially email addresses), so they won’t be left out of important announcements. Many parishes choose to provide paper slips to be handed in with the offertory.Even faster, ask everyone to text you their contact information all at once. That’s right, texting during Mass! GiveCentral can help you do this for free—contact us to learn more.

  1. Ask for a Commitment

    Don’t be shy—ask everyone to commit to making a regular gift to your church. For those who have been out of touch lately, this is a great way to begin reconnecting while they are in the pew.

  2. Sign Them Up

    Place GiveCentral signup forms in the pews, and ask parishioners to fill them out and drop them in the offertory basket. By completing a card during Mass, parishioners can give you all the information to automate their weekly or monthly giving.

  1. Stay in Touch

    Use your improved email address list to start reaching out to your parish community. Start with a message thanking everyone for participating in the Advent liturgy, and continue with a new message at least once per month. Use GiveCentral’s free email templates as a starting point, and customize them however you like.

A group of parishioners in gloves and aprons, preparing food for a charitable dinner

Great Things are Happening! The Value of a Hands-On Approach

I get a great deal of pleasure and fulfillment sharing the success stories of our clients, and I’ve started to document some of the more notable successes I’m seeing in a series I’m calling “Great Things are Happening!“Recently, I shared the story of Fr. Wayne Watts and St. John Berchmans parish in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood, and how the two C’s of Communication and Community had such wonderful, positive impact on their fundraising efforts.Today’s Great Things are Happening! success story is all about the value of a hands-on approach with members. Not just to help in fundraising efforts, but also because caring for each other is so important to our community’s health and happiness. St. Teresa of Avila in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood recently enjoyed over 200 percent growth in their donor base, and it was due in no small part to a message of caring.

Case study: growth in giving and donors, year over year, at St. Teresa of Avila
A hands-on approach helped the church grow in online donations, number of donors, and Sunday Offertory from one year to the next.

Rebecca O’Brien, who heads up stewardship for St. Teresa, had realized the church would benefit from growing donor base, and that to do it, they needed to take a very personal approach to helping parishioners learn and understand how to use the GiveCentral online donation platform. Fortunately, GiveCentral is remarkably easy to use. Still, for some, the leap from offering plate to the digital world can feel daunting without a little love and attention, which is exactly what St. Teresa gave.They went “all-in” as I like to say, offering assistance on how to register in the system, get payment information uploaded, create a donor profile, and set up giving preferences. Meanwhile, the church stayed in near constant communications with donors new to the system, making them feel at ease, and demonstrating the benefits of how much more connected to the church parishioners feel when using the online giving platform.And the results bear witness to the success of their efforts. Over 30 new donors were registered in the first week of the push, and ultimately, their Sunday Offertory increased by an amazing 433 percent!We can talk about the importance of online giving platforms in increasing donor contributions, and there’s no doubt GiveCentral played a role in this success, however the kind of care and attention the leadership at St. Teresa gave to their drive is the real meat on the bone in this success, and it makes me proud to have them as a partner.I believe that no matter who we are, we are lifetime learners, and a few insights here and there about why we succeed can go a long way.

Download a case study of this great success story here.

Online Giving

Online Giving: Why Haven’t Churches Made the Switch?

Online giving has been on a significant upswing in just the past five years, but churches are lagging behind. A recent Dunham + Company/Campbell Rinker survey shows that while 70 percent of nonprofit organizations offer opportunities to donate online, just 42 percent of churches give their parishioners that chance. That number is even lower for small churches (under 200 attendees), at only 29 percent.As an example of how online giving has grown for nonprofits, just under half (48 percent) of donors had given through a charity’s website in 2010. Today, 60 percent say they have given an online gift. That’s incredible growth that should catch the attention of any stewardship director, so what is it that churches aren’t seeing about the benefits of online giving?In my time working at a church as well as here at GiveCentral, I’ve heard more than a few arguments against making the switch to online giving. The thing is, it’s not a switch at all! Offering an online giving option to your parishioners lets them choose one more way they can give.Here are a few more commonly-heard arguments, and why I don’t think they hold water:

Argument 1:

We’ve always done things this way, it’s hard to make a change

The church is the cornerstone of the community, and it’s been a presence in our lives for as long as we can remember. But when was the last time your church made a change in the way they do things? We understand that there’s a lot of tradition in the church and you know what works best. However, as you notice your offertory on the decline or less participation in your ministries, perhaps it’s time to take a look at how your community is changing and adapt with them.

Argument 2:

Our older donors don’t understand computers, they don’t want to give online

Your older donors may not agree with your assessment of their abilities. Back in 2010, 29 percent of those 65 and older said they’d made a charitable donation online. Today, that number has grown to 59 percent, on par with younger donors. And boomers are a vibrant and generous demographic, and they’re not about to let new technology stand in the way of supporting the causes they love.

Argument 3:

We don’t have to be online, we see our donors every week

But do you want to be asking people for donations every week? Can your appeal compete with the socializing happening in the entryway, the family discussion in the parking lot, the rush to get to brunch, or the bustle to get a cranky child home? With online giving, donors can set up recurring gifts and pledges whenever they have a free moment, right from home. Those gifts can be scheduled and automatically deducted with ease, granting your parishioners (and your staff!) a few more minutes of precious free time.


Churches simply must respond to changes in their attendees’ preferences. People of all ages are becoming more and more comfortable in the online world, whether for socializing, shopping, reading, and more. Why not meet your donors where they’re already spending their time? See how GiveCentral can help.

Great things are happening at St. John Berchmans

Great Things are Happening! A Case Study

Since his first day as pastor of St. John Berchmans Parish in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood, Fr. Wayne Watts’ motto has been: “Great things are happening at St. John Berchmans! From the beginning, Fr. Watts has focused on communication and community to celebrate a shared faith life. He is what I call “respectfully relentless” in his use of personal visits, phone calls, email and even Twitter to regularly engage with parish members in a very meaningful way. In addition to regular bulletin articles, the church sends monthly emails to their faith community, and Fr. Watts personally sends regular messages on social media letting the community know about how the people of their parish are working together to help each other.The impact has been amazing. Today, both the parish and school are thriving. Mass attendance and school enrolment continue to increase. And Fr. Watts’ communication has had a significant effect on giving: In 2010, the first year the church began using the GiveCentral online communication and giving platform, they were receiving an average of $5,000 per month in online donations. Today, the church processes an average of $22,000 online each month, an increase of 440%.Case study: giving growth, year over year, at St. John BerchmansFr. Watts and his church understand that parishioners want to have an ongoing dialog, and that they are more fulfilled when they see leaders like Fr. Watts initiating and maintaining those communications. And more engaged members are almost always more loyal donors. In fact, Joe D’Arco, the parish’s Director of Operations, has found that community members and school families now give more year-round, preventing the normal dips in giving caused by summer vacations, school breaks, and homebound parishioners who can’t always drop an envelope in the basket each Sunday.It began with reaching out to build community and monthly email communication. “Great things are happening at St. John Berchmans.” Fr. Watts and his team have done an amazing job that can help us see the possibility for all our parishes and schools.

Download a summary case study of this great success story here.

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.

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.

Charitable Giving

Would You Like a Larger Slice of the Charitable Giving Pie?

Giving Grows, but Religious Donations Still Slide

Great news for nonprofits was just released this week: donations grew in 2014! According to Giving USA, charitable giving in the United States increased by 7.1 percent overall, rising to $358 billion. This is even higher than the amount projected in 2013 and a level of giving unseen since before the Great Recession. Individual contributions made up 72 percent of the increase, so you can tell that people are feeling generous.

ALSO READ: Charitable Giving On the Rise for Second Consecutive Year

Religious Donations

Another encouraging discovery: the ongoing upswing in charitable giving increased by 5.4 percent in 2014, far outpacing the five-year average growth rate of 3.4 percent.And once again, religious organizations received the largest share of charitable dollars (32 percent) and the estimated amount contributed to religion reached its highest value ever. The downside? As a percentage of charitable giving, religious donations remain in a 30-year slide. Dropping from 54 percent in 1987 to 32 percent today, religion is claiming an ever-shrinking piece of the charitable pie.So what is a faith-based nonprofit to do?First, be aware that there is ever-growing competition for your donors’ time, attention, and generosity.Excellent causes abound, and they’re all asking for the same dollars you are. Don’t let this discourage you from telling your story, but get comfortable with the idea that you might not be a donor’s top priority on a given day (and try again later, of course).Second, give your donors a reason to notice you and not the other guy.Inboxes are filled with tempting offers, social media is chock-a-block with interesting links, and other demands for attention are almost literally everywhere you can imagine. Consider what you are doing differently to stand out, and highlight what makes your cause unique.Third, follow up graciously.A thank-you note is certainly in order for every donation, but stories of what-happened-next speak to both donors and prospects alike. Demonstrating the good work that you do encourages potential donors to support your efforts and makes current donors consider giving more.The findings from the 2015 Giving USA report are encouraging, but this news is only the whipped cream on our delicious pie. Don’t eat your slice and assume more is always on the way! Many ingredients are needed and we’ve got to keep doing the work that mixes them all together.To learn how GiveCentral has helped hundreds of organizations find the right mix, just ask! Sign up for a webinar or contact us here