Vestry Corner: Virtual Fundraising
Although online giving may sound scary, there are steps you can take to improve safety and reliability. The Rev. Deacon Martha Goodwill, Director of Congregation Support and Education for the Episcopal Diocese of Southwest Florida, works with parishes by offering guidance when they put their toe in the water.
Virtual stewardship can mean something as simple as parishioners using their own banks’ bill pay function to send a check to their church. Or a parish can work with information security professionals to connect an e-giving product with its accounting software to accept online donations or set itself up to accept donations through an online payment system such as PayPal.
More than two-thirds (72%) of the Diocese of Southwest Florida’s congregations now offer online giving options, up from about 15% before the COVID-19 pandemic. To encourage the switch to e-giving, Goodwill offers the following advice to church leaders.
Step by Step
- Congregations can work with information security professionals to add a giving page to their website. The page should include a short but compelling paragraph about the reasons for giving, along with a list of the ways people can give.
- Many of the churches in Goodwill’s diocese use the same bookkeeping software, and she was able to negotiate an e-giving discount package with the vendor. People can also get recommendations for a reliable solution by speaking with other religious organizations that have virtual fundraising strategies.
- Finally, Goodwill encourages marketing support. “Parishioners need to be reminded that religious organizations are still there and still need donations,” she says. “A lot of churches don’t want to be seen as asking or begging for money, but you do have to reach out.”
Churches that stream services have a built-in opportunity to “pass the basket.” “During the time when collection would ordinarily take place, some of our churches have put up a slide with information about how to give money online,” she says. “People have been very generous.”