Never has there been such an incredible amount of technology use by Catholic Churches than the beginning of 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. In one gigantic push, livestreamed Masses, online giving, and Zoom staff meetings were suddenly the new way of doing things … and we’re only halfway through 2020.
Here’s a list of some church technology trends of 2020 … so far.
Recurring Online Giving
When parishes closed their doors to help fight the spread of the virus, it became abundantly clear just how much churches depended on the generosity of members. Regular attendees who typically gave via the collection plate were left with little choice of how to continue to give. As donations dropped 60-70% in the span of a week, parishes late to the online giving train had to make the leap whether they were ready or not.
One aspect that parishes need to pay attention to is the danger of being passive with online giving — it needs to be more than just a button on your website. To maximize the giving potential of your parish members, they need to be reminded of the importance of recurring giving. Customers of WeShare, LPi’s online giving platform, are automatically enrolled in the WeShare Engagement Campaign, a free email and print campaign that reminds parishioners of the ease and benefits of online giving, and how to easily sign up to donate to your parish.
Facebook Live / YouTube Streaming Masses
Most if not all dioceses in the United States offered a dispensation to Catholics to abstain from Mass while the virus threatened lives. However, that didn’t mean that the Church was also in a state of suspension. On the contrary, parishes needed to step-up when it came to spiritual care for members. With so many people yearning for Mass, the solution was to bring the sacrament into the home through livestreaming.
Virtual Meeting Platforms
With the closing of offices all over the country, teams had to find ways to keep the lines of communication open. Rather than “reply all” emails and missed phone calls, virtual meetings became the norm.
Today, “zoom” is now a well-used verb, and it’s common now to see fellow co-workers give a rundown of their work in their living room. Virtual Meeting Platforms such as Zoom, GoToMeeting, Join.Me, and FaceTime are readily available for a small fee or even free depending on the number of logins needed.
Don’t Be Afraid of ChatBots
At a time when people expect answers in seconds, the time might be right for a small parish staff already stretched thin to look into new tools to better serve their parish community. A conversational marketing platform for your parish website might just be the tool needed to help lessen the load — enter the ChatBot!
A chatbot is a computer program or an artificial intelligence which conducts a conversation via auditory or textual methods. Put simply, through some easy pre-programing on the parish end, visitors to the website can type in what they’re looking for and get answers in nearly an instant.
There are many conversational marketing platforms that are free, or that can be used at a nominal cost, such as Drift, Intercom, and Verloop. While all of these are targeted to businesses and large organizations, they can also be an invaluable tool for your parish office.
Mobile Responsive Web
As of 2019, mobile devices accounted for 48 percent of web page views worldwide — that’s a lot of smartphones! Your parish website needs to be ready and willing to welcome anyone on a mobile device. If your website does not adjust images and content based on the device used to access it, you need to update your website. It’s not a request anymore — it’s a requirement!
Look for a website platform that will adjust images and content automatically for mobile users. You’ll also want to keep that audience in mind when writing. Typically, less content is better, so only put essential information on there, such as Mass and confession times, location, contact information, and your online giving link. Check out more helpful tips in our “Make the Most of Your Website” blog.