Pressing Reset: How the Last 12 Months Affected Parishes

When the pandemic was at our doorstep, some parishes made immediate changes to how they served their parishioners, while others took a wait-n-see approach.  As a result, some parishes have seen a 50% reduction in their offertory while others have had an increase according to The Washington Post’s article. The scenario with offertory increase is typically associated with parishes that made the switch to online services. Below are sample reports of the state of dioceses around the US: 

  • The Archdiocese of Washington, which covers the District and its Maryland suburbs, saw giving drop off an average of 30 percent in the early months of the shutdown, Gillmer said. However, through the fall of 2020, offertories have been off around 10 percent. 
  • In the Arlington Diocese, which covers north and eastern Virginia, the annual offertory has declined overall by about 5 percent, from roughly $98 million last fiscal year to just over $93 million for the year ending June 2020 across all 70 parishes, according to spokeswoman Amber Roseboom. Some parishes have had steep drops while others experienced increases, she said. 

“The parishes that were able to survive adopted digital technology immediately. The ones that didn’t are in bad shape — very bad shape,” said Matthew Manion of the Center for Church Management. Covid-19 has required organizations to adapt and embrace a digital model to thrive. Many believe this change will last beyond the pandemic. This digital option gives dioceses and parishes an additional tool in their toolbox to optimize their reach and add continuity in the event in-person attendance is not feasible. 

CCS Fundraising, an organization that specializes in fundraising campaigns and strategy for non-profits, offered pandemic strategy recommendations through their CCS SECURE program beginning on April 2, 2020. The chart below shows how one diocese in the southeastern United States benefited financially. 

This graph is created by CCS Fundraising

A couple of tips to increase your offertory: 

  • Work with multiple platforms:  Don’t only rely on face-to-face giving. Allow your parishioners to give using their desktop or smartphone too
  • Stay engaged with your parishioners: Communicate with your members via email and social media too! Check out our parishioner marketing services if you need help. 
  • Turn your one-time and ad hoc givers into recurring givers. 

In 2021, parishes and dioceses are working diligently to press the reset button and understand the lessons they have learned in the past 12 months, and how they should be applied going forward.