The preferences and behaviors of churchgoers are constantly changing. Vanco Payment Solutions’ 2017 Churchgoers Giving Study proved that when it was released late last year.
Vanco places a high value on research to understand churches’ eGiving needs, and how they are succeeding with eGiving tools, www.vancopayments.com.
In addition to the Churchgoers Giving Study, Vanco regularly publishes case studies about churches and how their members use eGiving solutions to support their mission.
St. Mary’s, Crescent, a Catholic Church in upstate New York, has been a Vanco client for several years. We recently checked in with them to hear their story of eGiving success.
A church that started in 1868 with six founding families doesn’t last 150 years and grow to 1,300 families without strong relationships and the ability to adapt to change.
For St. Mary’s, Crescent, one big change occurred in the summer of 2014, when the parish — which had only accepted cash and check donations in envelopes — chose Vanco Payment Solutions as its online giving provider.
St. Mary’s has been a loyal customer and user of Parish Data System’s church management software (PDS) for many years. When Reverend Joseph Cebula and other church leaders started looking for an online giving provider, they learned that Vanco was the preferred payment processor for PDS.
Vanco’s eGiving solutions work seamlessly with PDS to streamline posting and reporting of donations, and that ultimately led St. Mary’s to choose Vanco over other providers, says Stephanie Nolet, Pastoral Associate for Administration.
“Father Joe did a lot of the homework before I was hired,” says Nolet. “I was told when I came on board that I’d be implementing our new eGiving program and our new website. Vanco had come highly recommended, and the integration with PDS definitely helped with the decision-making. PDS and Vanco partner well together; they each know how the other one works.”
Unmatched Service and Support
The parish offers eGiving through the church website, accepting contributions by debit card, credit card, and ACH. Nolet was especially impressed with how quickly and easily the system was up and running.
“The installation was flawless. Vanco has it down to a science on how to train you on their systems, and they walk you through everything one step at a time,” she says. “The day I was setting up our site, I think I called five times because I forgot what they had told me, and they took care of it every time.”
Continuing support from Vanco’s friendly customer service representatives and dedicated coaches has been just as important as online giving’s performance to the church’s overall satisfaction, according to Nolet.
“I’ve never called Vanco and had a machine answer. You get a helpful, friendly person every time who can solve a problem in one phone call,” she says. “I’ve had only one experience where the person who answered could not help me find a specific reporting style right away. In less than an hour, she reached out to me and showed me how to access and complete the report.”
Adapting to Change
St. Mary’s welcomed “the summer of new things” in 2014, launching an updated website, then launching eGiving through the site, Nolet says.
To ready parishioners for the changes, bulletin announcements preceded the launches, posters went up around the parish grounds, emails and newsletters were sent, and Father Joe made announcements from the pulpit.
For older parishioners who weren’t comfortable going online and filling out a form to set up a recurring donation, St. Mary’s offered additional help. During office hours, they could come in to use Nolet’s computer while she led them through the process.
eGiving helps churches receive donation consistency they can’t get by only accepting cash and checks.
It enables parishioners to set up recurring gifts that come in even when they can’t attend services. And with more people moving their banking and bill paying online, even those attending services appreciate eGiving options.
One result for St. Mary’s has been that parishioners who may have fallen behind with envelopes now keep current and donate more by giving electronically.
“If writing a check or having cash for the church is the only time in a week or a month that person touches a check or cash, I believe they’re less likely to consistently remember,” Nolet says. “If you give people the option to pay online, it takes the guesswork out for them and allows them to budget for giving as they have for everything else.”
Together, Vanco’s modern, convenient eGiving solutions and its unmatched service and support leave St. Mary’s pleased with the relationship.
“I highly recommend Vanco,” Nolet says. “We’re with a good company here — from sales to support, they’ve been fantastic.”