by Pat Joyce, Holy Angels Church, Arcadia, California
How many families are in the parish? This was a common question we asked ourselves and heard from others. The typical response was about 4,000 families, but that answer was not accurate and rarely answered the question. Like most parishes, we had a long list of families that were registered at one time, and indeed we still had their name and address in our data bank, but the reality is that the true number of families engaged in our parish was dramatically different.
The dilemma was how to best utilize existing information and communicate efficiently and effectively with our families in the right manner at the right time for the right purpose.
To meet the needs of selective messages and communication, we used ParishSOFT to create several key “workgroups.” The main workgroup that we created was “Core” families, defined as those families that are here regularly and regularly participate in the parish with their time, talent, and treasure. (We interpreted “regularly” very loosely.)
Now all families that have a valid address will receive the some communications, like Christmas and Lent / Easter schedules, seasonal offertory envelopes, etc. Depending on the purpose and communication method to be used, we sometimes want to communicate with just “core” families, or just Religious Education Families or other groups.
To create our “core” workgroup, we first needed to update our current list of households to determine how to classify families. Our first step was to utilize ParishSOFT to create a registration form for all families listed in our ParishSOFT Family Directory. We then made a presentation at all weekend Masses and asked our Parish Council to be on hand after each Mass to answer questions or concerns. Our goal was to present every parish family with a current registration form detailing their current information on file, ask them to make any necessary changes, and return the form to us. Many families picked up the forms that we had available that weekend, and the balance of forms we mailed to the remaining households, along with an explanation of our goal to update and correct all registration information.
One of our key objectives was to get an email address for as many families as possible. These addresses would first be used to thank parishioners for completing the update, and a reinforcement of our registration update goals, to ask if there were any unanswered questions, and to begin a comprehensive email list to send electronic messages, and finally to create an e-newsletter program via Constant Contact for regular
The entire registration update exercise was also critical in order to prepare and launch our Capital Campaign for much needed renovations and improvements to our facilities. Because we had accurate information going into our Campaign, we were better suited to organize, schedule, and determine appropriate goals and family goals based on accurate registration and participation levels. We asked every parish family to participate in our Campaign, but we focused our efforts on families that are truly engaged in the parish – our “core” parishioners.
ParishSOFT workgroups are simple to use and perfect to study, analyze, and communicate with any group needed. It is the best tool to track and analyze changes and trends, prepare mail, emails, phone lists, to print action lists, and many other tasks where easy data access is required.
Submitted by ParishSOFT User:
Pat Joyce, Business Manager
Holy Angels Church
370 Campus Drive
Arcadia, California 91007