All Catholic churches have events and programs. Vacation Bible School, the Lenten Fish Fry, Faith Formation Registration, and on and on and on. And on. As many events, programs, and dinners that churches have, there are an equal number of ways to accept the registrations and payments. What would life look like at your church if you could centralize all of that?
In my experience, I have heard a variety of different ways to get this done including Google Docs, Eventbrite, PayPal, Wufoo Forms, built in website forms (our WeConnect website builder has online forms also), and the ever present paper forms and checks. One DRE told me how she gets chased around at Mass on Sundays by parents looking to make a payment. She did not want the responsibility of taking the money to the office or bank.
Most likely, these programs were started by well-intended volunteer or religious education leader who sees the value in online registration. Because the church simply doesn’t have the mechanism to accept the registrations easily, they were forced to go out on their own. At the end of the day, the control of monies coming to the church, the information being gathered, and the security of payment or handling of checks and cash do not get controlled by the church itself.
Add all of these different registration process alongside an EFT or ACH program, an online giving platform, and the traditional Catholic envelope, the bookkeeping becomes less than fun.
12 important questions your church needs to ask about online registration (and online giving).
- How are people handing parishioner financial information?
- Is the program they are using in compliance with the payment card industry (PCI)?
- Is the money truly being used as expected? As trustworthy as we think people are, I have heard more than my share of embezzling stories within churches.
- How many different programs must I sign up for if I’d like to donate to the church and register my children for Faith Formation? Think like a parishioner and try to make it more convenient for them.
- Am I able to register AND pay when it comes to mind 24/7, or do I need to print a form from your website?
- What could it mean for your collections if young families can do their online giving in the same place they can register for VBS and Faith Formation?
- Can any of your current registrations be done through a smartphone or tablet?
- How easy is it for me to get a registration list when I need it?
- Can I easily contact people who have registered? This becomes important when you’d like to send reminders of upcoming events, evening VBS updates to parents, or sudden changes that need urgent communication.
- Are the paper forms being transcribed into a spreadsheet and saved for use next year?
- When there is staff turnover, do you have the registration list from previous years?
- Can the church get an updated contact information for parishioners with email and mailing addresses?
Online giving is a terrific way to increase the church’s bottom line donations. Adding all your registrations and payments in the same program will increase your engagement. If you are looking for help with centralizing all the financial transactions between you and parishioners, check out WeShare. You’ll get all you need in an easy online giving platform for you and your parishioners, the reports you need to make bookkeeping simpler, and the communication package to make it a success.
Keith Alberts has been providing personal education to church staff for 4 years about the need for easy to use online tools they can simply manage themselves. This includes online giving, websites, social media, and a custom church app. Through LPi, he conducts Building a Vibrant Parish seminars to give best practices of parish communication for Catholic churches in a fun and open setting. You can connect with him on LinkedIn and Twitter.