Diocese of Richmond quickly moves to online offertory to ‘keep the lights on’ during COVID-19 crisis.
When COVID-19 forced churches to close their physical doors, the Catholic Community Foundation of the Diocese of Richmond partnered with Blackbaud to create an e-giving portal to support each of its 140 parishes. That online offertory proved critical to the diocese’s fundamental operations, including its services to people in need.
As COVID-19 forces churches to close their physical doors, that painful decision comes with far-reaching implications beyond face-to-face fellowship.
“Without money, we cannot provide ministry,” explained Margaret Keightley, Executive Director of the Catholic Community Foundation of the Diocese of Richmond. “So many people are in need, and so often people come to the church to fulfill their needs. If we can’t stay open, we can’t assist the poor.”
Fewer than half of the Diocese of Richmond’s more than 140 parishes offered online giving prior to the global pandemic. In the early weeks of the crisis, the diocese leveraged Blackbaud Online Express™ to spin up a quick online donation portal to support each individual parish. Within the first day alone, more than 170 people had donated.
“Everything but e-giving stopped when the churches closed,” Keightley said. “There will be some people mailing in their envelopes, but for the most part, if people aren’t in the pews, they might overlook giving their offertory. With today’s challenges from COVID-19, we understand families are facing difficulty, but we continually want to remind them how important sending in their offertory is. Plus, it’s just that easy to do.”
As the diocese worked quickly to take Mass online, Keightley and her team worked to create a virtual representation of the basket passed down the pew. Using Blackbaud Raiser’s Edge NXT®, the diocese could tap into its donor database to email 32,000 contacts directly on how to give in this unprecedented time. Plus, any donations made through the online offertory flowed straight into that database.
Communication became even more critical going into Holy Week and Easter, a key giving season. “You have people who only go to Mass during Christmas and Easter,” Keightley said. “And a lot of those people are visitors, so you’re in front of people who may be tapping into our livestream Masses for the first time in a long time. Our hope is not only engaging them with the beauty and message of our faith, but engaging them to give online and help support our parishes who are facing extreme challenges because of COVID-19.”
The diocese already faced a round of layoffs in the wake of COVID-19. Keightley plans to continue to direct the growing online engagement toward online giving as well. The diocese relies on offertory funds for everything from pastoral and ministerial care to staff salaries and some Catholic school operating expenses. As Keightley put it, “That support keeps the lights on.”
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