“Pray as if everything depends on God. Work as if everything depends on you.” This famous axiom from Saint Augustine comes easily to mind when describing Saint Clare of Assisi Parish. A stalwart presence in their Swedesboro, NJ community, Saint Clare is devoted to their community, and parish home to 3000 families.
Ever adaptive to the times and the needs of their large parish family, in 2017 the tenacious parish made the switch from ParishSOFT desktop software to the web-based Family Suite, ParishSOFT’s integrated, online, census and membership applications. The update included a transition from first generation Online Giving, to the enhanced and more robust second-generation ParishSOFT Giving. They successfully made the transition and haven’t looked back.
Making the transition
Informational marketing campaigns leveraging website, bulletin, and pulpit announcements prepared the way. Saint Clare’s drove transition and increased adoption by creating a supportive environment for parishioners of all ages and levels of computer literacy. This included a “practice” site (a PowerPoint presentation) embedded on their website where parishioners were empowered to practice creating a login before setting up an actual account in ParishSOFT Giving.
Parish staff was also able to ensure continuity of parishioner experience by manually transferring managed givers (parishioners who prefer the parish handle their online giving accounts) from the old system to the new giving platform. Verna Mullen, Saint Clare’s Faith Formation Coordinator and champion of ParishSOFT Giving says the system is very simple for parishioners and staff, “Even if you didn’t have a computer background, it [ParishSOFT Giving] is easy to set up and track.”
How ParishSOFT Giving serves the parish
Mullen appreciates the time saving, ease of bookkeeping, and convenience that the updated ParishSOFT Giving offers, and acted quickly to integrate Giving into parish life. As is the case for many parishes, faith formation is central to the mission of Saint Clare. Sensing an opportunity to improve this process, Mullen leveraged the new academic year to introduce the next phase of the ParishSOFT Giving rollout.
When the time came to sign up for faith formation, Mullen included information on ParishSOFT Giving in the registration packet and strongly encouraged registrants to pay online. If needed, parishioners were able to call to the office and make other arrangements, but the message was clear: online registration and payment is the way to go!
Where they are now
Due to the tireless efforts of Mullen and parish staff, 600 families are using ParishSOFT Giving to make payments and give online! One hundred and thirty families are making regular scheduled offertory donations (weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, etc.), a number that is ever growing. Through continued marketing and promotion, Saint Clare’s has seen a steady increase in not only online givers, but in their offertory as well. Says Mullen, “Older families and the younger generation have all adopted it!”
One of the features Saint Clare parish staff love is the ability to track contributions by fund. Integration between ParishSOFT Giving and the other applications of the Family Suite is a huge plus: through fund tracking, online payments and donations are automatically posted to the correct family and seamlessly recorded in the central database connecting all ParishSOFT applications. Financial records and contribution statements are easily accessible to families through ParishSOFT Giving or My Own Church, ParishSOFT’s online member portal.
Says Mullen, ParishSOFT Giving is “accessible”, “self-explanatory”, and “flexible”. Integration ensures greater accuracy of records and supports transparency and reporting. However, even simple features like fund settings help save time and provide peace of mind. In particular, staff appreciates fund date range settings that will activate and deactivate a fund based on your predetermined date selection. Saint Clare’s also appreciates how easy Giving makes it to support parishioners securely. Notes Mullen, it’s easy to assist parishioners from within the system, but both parishioners and staff are thankful that staffs don’t have access to credit card information.
Plans for future growth
When we spoke, Mullen was excited to spread the word about the Giving app, the latest convenience available for givers. Marketing continues online and in the bulletin, including a step-by-step video tutorial walking parishioners through the setup process. Recently Pastor Father David Grover also wrote a letter to parishioners explaining how online giving provides critical assistance in budgeting to support ministry and provide for future growth.
Although already seeing widespread adoption, Saint Clare of Assisi is not content to rest in their progress but continues to put Giving to work for parish growth and sustainability. We thank Saint Clare of Assisi for your example of hard work and dedication, and pray for every blessing on your continued ministry in Swedesboro!