Picture this — your parish has just held a finance council meeting, and the results are less than stellar. Parish membership seems to be growing, but weekly donations are staying the same. The bottom line is that, while things are manageable, finances need to grow in order to start new ministries or continue existing ones.
Your members aren’t mind readers; they need a reminder — a gentle push — that the church relies on members in order to reach out into the community. As a pastor or parish leader, it can be hard to ask for money when your primary responsibility is the spiritual lives of your community members. However, maintaining good financial health of the parish is a huge part of that. Without a church, where do people go to encounter Christ?
Yes, we get it. It can be hard to ask people for money, but it’s a vital part of ministry. Read on for ways you can encourage your parish members to give their fair share by appealing to their emotional side.
IF YOU DON’T ASK, THEY WON’T GIVE
Chances are that a good portion of your parish members are not as fully invested in your faith community as they could be. There are some people you’ll see at every Mass, church function, fish fry, or auction — those are your ambassadors. Then you’ll have those who come to Mass most of the time, who might volunteer as an usher a few times a year, or who has a child in the parish school. Those are your champions, the ones you can call on for assistance and who can generally be relied upon when a request for help goes out to donate cookies to the yearly bake sale or to choose a couple names off the Christmas giving tree.
But then, you have your drifters — the ones who attend Mass but have the tendency to pass the basket down the pew without adding anything to it. They are a usual Mass-goer but haven’t taken the time to formally become a member. They are the “disconnected connected,” the ones who don’t really feel as though they have a stake in what happens at the parish, but who rely on the parish just the same for their spiritual needs. However, same as the ambassadors and the champions, the kingdom of God belongs to them just as much. We just need to find a way to help them realize it.
While it might seem simple, it really starts with a connection. Parish staff, from the pastor and ushers to even parish members, should be on the lookout for attendees who don’t appear to have a connection. They come in and quietly take a spot near the back (although let’s be honest, that’s most Catholics), they don’t really make small talk, and they never stay for donuts and coffee. They’re in and out. As such, these people should be our targets.
We need to focus on them each time we see them and find a way to make a connection with them. It can be as simple as a “hello, how are you doing?” to asking if they could bring up the bread and wine that day, become an usher, or even help in the food pantry. The more they realize that there is a place and a purpose in the parish for them, the more they start to feel a responsibility.
REMIND PARISHIONERS OF THE BENEFITS OF GIVING ONLINE
Appealing to your parishioners for an increase in donations is not a passive task. Parish leadership needs to be proactive when it comes to asking for money. We can’t simply put up a poster and wait for the money to start coming in. We need to remind them every time they come for Mass that they are part of this church, and thus should want to give accordingly. That each dollar they donate has a purpose and a plan. That it isn’t necessarily the size of the donation, but rather the consistency of it that really helps the parish.
Are you familiar with the “Rule of 7”? It’s a marketing principle that states that prospects need to come across an offer at least seven times before they really notice it and begin to take action. In “church speak,” this means that your parishioners need to hear about the importance of giving numerous times, not just see it on a flyer in the main gathering space. Make it a priority to preach about tithing once per month, and send out email and postal communication on a semi-regular basis (think once every three months), reminding them that their donation makes a huge difference when it comes to maintaining the strength of your church.
MAKE IT EASY TO GIVE
Finally, it needs to be as effortless as possible for people to give. That is why an easy online giving program is essential to capturing the generosity of those who feel compelled to give. LPi’s easy-to-use online giving program, WeShare. is a terrific option to offer parishioners. Think about it … these days, how often do people carry accessible funds for the collection basket? Not very. Allowing a giving option like a credit card or through their smartphone (such as text-to-give) can be instrumental in the growth of a parish.