You’re paying most of your household bills online.
Think about the hassle it would save both you and the parish bookkeeper — not to mention the savings in printed material and postage — if you could make your annual stewardship pledge right online.
That was the kind of thinking that came out last week at a gathering in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.
The archdiocesan Office of Stewardship and Development joined efforts with the Association of Parish Business Administrators for a listen-and-learn session that allowed parish administrators to hear some best practices of their peers and to give feedback to the archdiocesan Stewardship Committee about its efforts during the past year.
Stewardship director Mike Halloran was especially looking for feedback on the Stewardship Toolkit the archdiocese made available last spring. Sample pastor letters, pledge forms and the suggested timeline for a parish stewardship campaign were among the most-used pieces of the toolkit, which was available both in a three-ring binder and online.
Parish business administrators also asked for more copy-and-paste features, for instruction on how to write good “ask” letters, and for help in bringing pastoral leadership (read clergy) on board with the approach the archdiocese itself is promoting, that is, stewardship as a way of life.
Four administrators showcased their efforts during the “best practices” portion of the morning.
- Rekindled the parish stewardship committee and used the Stewardship Toolkit as a roadmap;
- Added accountability to the annual parish report;
- Tailored two separate messages, one to active and engaged parishioners and one to inactive;
- Suggested “growth-step giving,” asking, “Could you grow a step in your pledge, and if you do here is what we will do with the money.” Results? Biggest percentage back from new parishioners ever.
- Began sending out quarterly giving reports;
- Added a ministry fair — and got 250 new volunteers;
- Invited a nationally known speaker to give stewardship talk at Masses.
From Scottie Bahr, Holy Spirit in St. Paul, offered goals for coming year’s stewardship efforts:
- Allow credit-card giving;
- Give donors a personalized history of pledge giving.
- Saved $10,000-$14,000 by not using a consulting firm;
- Did a parish census, reducing wasted mailings and postage;
- Used the theme, “Reinvest in Your Parish”;
- After a short homily, did an in-pew ask at all Masses and gave parishioners time to fill out simple pledge card that concerned finances only, not time or talent. Result was increased pledge of $140 per family.
- Wrote hand-written thank yous that Sunday that were in the mail Monday.