Summer presents parishes with a unique set of challenges.
Everything from home improvement projects to vacations distract people from their normal routine. This causes attendance to drop an average of 23% in June and 34% in July. With a decline in attendance, there’s often a dip in giving too.
Even with empty seats, parishes must keep their parishioners engaged and provide a welcoming visitor experience. Over 40 million people move each year, and 80% do so between May and September. That leaves more than 34% of people looking for a new place of worship after relocating.
As if balancing all these summer variables isn’t enough, it’s essential to stay within budget.
Don’t worry—we’ve got you covered!
With a few best practices in place, you can avoid the headaches and beat the summer slump for good. Check out the 9 tips below to help you stay on track.
1. Introduce people to on-the-go giving
A glance around a coffee shop, grocery store, or even your home perfectly illustrates why mobile has the greatest reach over all other technology. Phones are constantly in our hands, whether we’re on-the-go or in for the night. By introducing digital giving, people can give wherever and whenever they’re inspired.
When introducing (or re-introducing) digital giving tools, know that 65% of people are visual learners. Show people how to sign up and give using their smartphones. Add dedicated slides before service, share videos on social media, and demonstrate how to give with your own phone!
2. Launch a parish app
Take engagement a step further than digital giving and launch a parish app this summer. If you join ParishSOFT Giving for a 30-day free trial, you can also try MinistryOne, the powerful church app that can be used for prayer requests, media, push notifications, and more! Especially when your parishioners are on the move, it’s crucial to offer an easily accessible way to watch homilies.
3. Participate in other charities
Over 54% of people give to more than one church or nonprofit. By learning about other foundations and charitable activities that your people are passionate about, you’ll keep them engaged in the parish’s mission too.
For instance, if a group from your parish is volunteering to rebuild homes for natural disaster victims, organize a fundraiser to help buy supplies. When you get involved in their causes, you nurture a culture of generosity and bring everyone together.
4. Follow a checklist for welcoming guests
Walking into a new place isn’t easy. Visitors need somewhere to start so that they feel comfortable. In the summer when attendance slows, the way you welcome new guests may be lacking. A simple solution is to follow a checklist, regardless of how many people are in attendance. Here are a few items to add:
- Station greeters at entranceways
- Set up a visitor center
- Identify staff and volunteers with name tags or matching shirts
- Explain parts of your service that may be unique to new guests
- Place contact cards in pews (and keep them short and simple!)
5. Loop parents into summer activities
With kids being out of school in the summer, there’s an uptick in activities planned just for them. VBS, movie nights, church sports leagues, and more fill parent’s calendars. While kids love these activities, remember they can’t go without someone to bring them!
Focus on the parents, so they’re just as excited as the kids. Greet them as they drop off and pick up their children. Have short conversations when you see them about how well their child is doing. Encourage them to get involved if they show interest (but keep the commitment level low for busy parents).
6. Start encouraging recurring gifts
High-growth parishes that exceed their annual budget each year have one thing in common—they all accept automatic, recurring gifts. Recurring giving works, especially when it comes to avoiding the summer slump.
If you want people to take recurring giving seriously, you need to lead them in that direction! Show them where to begin, and then do it repeatedly.
If you already encourage recurring gifts and want a little extra inspiration, enroll in our Youth Scholarship Program! It’s a scholarship program focused on recurring giving that helps your parish earn up to $2,000.
7. Say thank you for every gift
Thanking someone 24 hours to 2 weeks after a gift increases future generosity up to 40%. People appreciate the gratitude and add more to their current gift or give a second time.
Take it a step further and create a communication calendar to help you stay organized and build relationships. A communication calendar goes beyond raising money, so it never feels like a one-off gift. Add future dates to reach out beyond sending the thank you to keep lines of communication open.
8. Create a positive online experience
Before people walk through your doors, they’re going to check out your website and social media (especially if they’re new to the area). Create an online experience that reflects your church and answers their questions. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Promptly respond to people that reach out
- Spread the word about upcoming parish activities
- Post images and videos of your parish in action at summer events
- Have a dedicated section for new visitors on what to expect
- Create fresh content to show your online presence is current
9. Focus on relationships
While retaining givers and participants at church is a primary goal, ultimately, what you’ll be doing is building relationships. This takes time, but summer is ideal for getting to know your congregation a little better.
When thanking givers, invite them to join a Bible study group or attend an upcoming summer activity. Sometimes all it takes is extending a warm invitation to make people feel welcome and want to come back!
Want to hear more about how ParishSOFT can unify your entire church administration, increase productivity, and bring your parish together? Contact us today at 866-930-4774 x6 or online at parishsoft.com/about/contact-us.