-Janine Young,, CEO, Foundation for the Diocese of El Paso
This summer, the Foundation for the Diocese of El Paso will launch a pilot program to introduce electronic giving in select parishes. Our goal is to give parishioners, especially millennials and young families, the opportunity to donate to their parish using electronic kiosks.
Our Population and Giving Habits are Changing
El Paso is a young city. According to the 2010 census, 37% of El Pasoans are under the age 18 and more than 60% are between 18 and 64 years old. These statistics have significant implications for church attendance and collections and pose many challenges for parish administrators. How do you attract the young generation that is not in the habit of attending church regularly? How do you get them to give to the church? How do you communicate with the millennial generation?
Even middle-aged parishioners are moving toward electronic communication and bill pay as checks rapidly disappear. In just two years from 2005 to 2007, online bill payment increased by 30% in the United States. And smart phones and tablets are quickly replacing personal computers. Last year, 41% of all millennials used their smartphones to make at least one purchase. Amazingly, by the year 2020, 90% of the entire world’s population over 6 years old will have a smartphone!
Electronic Giving Will Provide Many Benefits to Parish Communities
The greatest benefit that the kiosks will provide to our churches is stability in collections. Electronic giving offers a recurring donation feature that allows families to schedule their church donations weekly, biweekly or monthly. Many churches report a significant decrease in collections, especially during the summer when families go out of town or are simply too busy with other activities. Electronic giving will allow parishioners to give to their home church regardless of where they are during the year.
A second benefit is convenience. Families can schedule their donations after Mass at the church kiosk or during the week from their homes through the kiosk website. They do not have to be concerned about missing out on their commitment to the church if they cannot attend Mass for any reason.
Finally, we believe introducing electronic giving to our parishes will help attract the younger generation. Millennials will be more likely to participate in church’s activities and donate when they can do so using the means and technology that they use in their daily lives. The 2010 earthquake in Haiti demonstrated the power of electronic giving with more than $30 million raised for relief efforts.
But Wait! Is This the Appropriate Way to Do Church?
For parishioners, there are two main concerns with electronic giving using church kiosks. The first is security. Will my information be secure? Yes! Online transactions, whether they are church donations or payments for a function such as dinners or raffle tickets, are safe and secure. Credit card companies have developed comprehensive guidelines for merchants who accept credit cards. They are required to comply with these guidelines in order to be approved for accepting payments with credit cards. The second concern is about the solemnity of the Mass. Won’t electronic giving interfere with the dignity of the Mass? What about the sense of community our parish enjoys by passing the basket and offering our gifts at the altar? Since the kiosks will be inconspicuously located in the church lobby, they will not interfere with Mass or be disrespectful to the sanctuary. Parishioners making donations through the kiosks will be provided a card that indicates they gave to the Sunday offering and which they can place in the collection basket along with fellow parishioners’ cash, checks and church envelopes.
How It Works
The kiosks will be launched in late July in two churches in east El Paso. Foundation and parish staff will be present to help you make your donations. You will have several options including giving by credit card or automatic bank withdrawal, setting up a recurring payment or a one-time donation, giving to your Sunday collection, building fund, school, or Bishop’s Annual Appeal, and either creating a user name for future donations or making a donation as a guest. Receipts will be sent to you through email.
Your parish will receive regular reports showing your donations so that a record of your giving will be available to your parish. In addition, your church can use the kiosks to share upcoming events and parish news with you such as information on your annual bazaar, car raffle, or other fundraiser. Finally, the kiosks are linked to the company’s website so you can make donations at home or through a mobile app on your smart phone. 100% of your donations will go to the collection or project you choose. All fees will be covered by the Foundation for the Diocese of El Paso.
For more information, please contact the Foundation for the Diocese of El Paso at (915) 872-8412.