How to Fundraise with Facebook

My 4 lessons on how I raised thousands with just a few hundred followers

Make sure to get your free copy of ‘The 10 Commandment of Catholic Fundraising’. It’s a book that highlights the ten tasks you should do to keep you focused on your mission and hit your fundraising target, every time.

Brice Sokolowski Catholic Fundraiser

My goal with this article is to convince you that there is a right and a wrong way to fundraise on Facebook. Will you believe me? Probably not, but let’s try anyway.

You probably use Facebook every day like everybody else. Therefore, it’s a no-brainer to use it in your next campaign, right? This article is to share with you what I’ve learned about how to actually raise money using Facebook.

I do want to warn you. I’m not writing as an authoritative expert on this subject. I’m writing based on what’s worked for me, and what’s worked for the Catholic causes that I’ve helped. I’m still learning how to use this massive social media platform because it is so influential. With so many Catholics using it every day, you’ve got to consider it a part of your fundraising.

Lesson 1: Numbers don’t matter as much as you think

You might think that you need thousands of followers for a campaign to be successful. I’ve found you can raise thousands of dollars with just a few hundred followers.

As I write this article, I have 264 followers on my Facebook page, fb.com/catholicfundraiser. Not a lot, right? Yet I’ve been super successful with using this platform in my fundraising.

How?

Well, numbers don’t matter as much as you think. I’ve been slowly increasing my followers over the past year, and I’ve learned that numbers don’t matter. It’s quality of content and engagement that are key. I know Catholic organizations that have thousands of likes and followers, yet they struggle to bring in a few thousand dollars?

Why is that? It’s because they don’t know how to use the followers that they do have already.

His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.’ – Matthew 25:23

I am reminded of the Parable of the Talents: You take care of the small amount God has given you and He’ll bless you with more. This has been the case for me. As a small apostolate, I’ve been learning what works to attract people. I haven’t spent a single dollar to buy Likes, yet I’ve grown my followers between 0.5% and 2% each week.

Though the cards look to be stacked against me because of my small audience and small growth, I do it week by week. It’s consistent growth that’s making the difference over the long run.

Think of the story of the turtle and the hare. We know who wins in the end.

Sure, this might not sink in with you now but watch this blog and see where I am in a year. I know that I’ll hit the cherished 1,000 mark and when I do, I’ll be on my way to 10,000 because I’ve learned what it means to “grow” my followers.

Plus, if I can have the fundraising success I’ve had with 264 followers, I can only imagine what I’ll be able to do with 10,000. So watch this space.

Want to listen to this article instead? Save the audio to your phone and listen on the go.

Lesson #2 – Quit whining that Facebook doesn’t “Like” you

Join the club of wanting more people to Like and click your posts. The reality is that everyone is engaged in the same uphill battle trying to get attention. You’ve got to remember that your organic reach will only be 3-5% of your audience and this my friend is the case for everyone. The Facebook algorithm works like this for everyone, and, just to appease the conspiracy theorists, let’s assume there is favoritism, but by how much? If the average reach is around 5%, even if some pages get double the preference, only 10% of their audience sees those posts.

The fact is everyone’s newsfeed is flooded daily with posts and ads. On average, people Like and Follow 300 pages on Facebook. With so many posts passing through a newsfeed, you really are competing with 300+ pages to get a person’s attention. This might be the reason why it’s such a struggle to be seen and why Facebook has to lower everyone’s reach.

Therefore, my advice is to quit complaining how you aren’t getting a fair voice on the platform.

My recommendation is to create micro-content worth the time and energy it will take to reach donors, followers, and advocates. You cannot take for granted that you have the ability to reach 100’s, if not 1,000’s of people, while sitting in front of your computer.

Just think: If 1,000 people see your post for just 5 seconds, that means your post was seen for 5,000 seconds. That’s 83 minutes. So my advice is to take a few extra minutes to create content that maximizes your time.

Lesson #3 – Be consistent with the quality of your Facebook content

Looking back, I am shocked at how long it took me to figure this out. Though what shocks me more is how I still struggle to create quality content.

Creating quality content on Facebook is something everyone has to learn, and the only way to learn is to do it over and over again. Also, you have to agree that, because thousands of people can see your content, it’s worth the time and effort to make something that stands out, right? Practice making great micro-content every day and see where it takes you.

You have to get in that habit, and that habit may take a few months. But to get there, you need the right system in place to automate your thinking and piece your content together.

I’ve learned that there are five levels of making great Facebook micro-content. Master one level at a time and watch your audience and reach grow with it.

Level 1 – Ask yourself two questions before posting: (1) How can we make this interesting to read? (2) What’s the one thing we want to share?
Level 2 – Include a photo or video. Make sure you format it so it is striking, high-quality, and attention-getting. Use Canva.com to help create pictures that stand out. And make sure your logo is visible.
Level 3 – Add text. Make sure your copy is short, simple, direct, provocative, entertaining, and surprising. Don’t burden your content with too much text, keep it to under two lines.
Level 4 – Always include a clear call to action. I’ll go into further detail about this in the next section but every post doesn’t have to ask for a donation. You can ask for other things and always include a link.

Here are a few examples:

Read the full article here:
Apply here:
RSVP here:
Take action here:

Level 5 – Manage your comments. This is where the real magic in Facebook lies and in your fundraising. Make sure you respond to comments and control Spam. I’ll get into why in the next section.

Here’s an example of a religious order that is taking the patient route and mastering all levels. These religious sisters did more for their religious cause by sharing this story than by asking for donations. Thousands of people saw their photos, and it automatically got their attention.

Lesson #4 – How to actually raise money on Facebook

Successful fundraising will come after you master all the levels. I say this because there are two important characteristics you need to develop in people before you can ask them for money. The first is their attention, and the second is their engagement. This means that if you can get them to interact with you, you are on your way to getting them to trust you.

Trust comes when you build a relationship. This might sound cheesy, and you might want to just go the crowdfunding route or just post content asking for donations, but you will turn people off in droves. It’s much harder to gain someone’s trust after you’ve annoyed them. So my recommendation is, take the patient approach.

Patience is a virtue, so use it to your advantage in fundraising.

Now you have to continue building that relationship, and with that comes the final part: the ask.

My best advice for getting people to donate through Facebook is to find a way to collect their email. Facebook is a great way to attract people’s interest, while email is a personalized approach that offers much more privacy when it comes to asking. Here is a great example of one religious order doing exactly that.

For more details on how to fundraise using email, I recommend you join the waiting list for my Catholic Fundraising Boot Camp, where I will walk you through the steps of how to run a campaign from beginning to end using social media, email, phone, events, meetings, and letters.

Again, I wrote this article to document my current experience and success. Check back in 6 months when I share with you how far I’ve gone.

Question: What has been your experience with fundraising using Facebook? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Brice Sokolowski Catholic Fundraiser

How to get people to click your donate button

Two weeks ago, I wrote an article on why most Catholic websites should not have a donate button, especially on their homepage. You can read that article by clicking here.

I received several comments about the validity of my viewpoint. Yes, my approach is not mainstream. In fact, it is contrarian. But why be mainstream if it is not working?

Why not ask the question, “what is the best way to get people to donate online?”

It’s a fact that most people who visit your website are either new visitors or looking to connect with you. When arriving at your homepage, people want to know what you do, where you are, and how they can interact with you.

Any request for a donation is usually overlooked.

Hope fundraising vs. Catholic fundraising

Most of the comments I received went like this, “If we remove the donate button, we are sure to lose everyone. It’s better just to keep it in case someone does want to give.”

This is what I call hope fundraising. Sure, if what you are looking for is anything you can get, go right ahead. Keep the button and see what happens.

In my experience, people donate after they have a relationship with you. They don’t give because you asked or had a donate button. Therefore, my approach always focuses on engaging with people and building their trust.

Let’s do the math: donate button vs. no donate button

Okay, let’s do a simple test to find which approach actually works better. Let’s estimate that you meet 1,000 people, or you have 1,000 people visit your website.

With the donate approach, you immediately ask for a donation, and with my approach, you only ask them to stay connected. The table below outlines what happens based on industry standards.

% who respond to request Number of people who respond Amount raised (average donation $50) % who respond when asked for a donation Number of people who respond Amount raised (average donation $100) Total Raised
“Please Donate” 1% 10 $500 25% 3 $250 $750
“Stay in Touch” 15% 150 $0 25% 38 $3,750 $3,750

The approach which asks people to donate via a button raises $750. My approach, which asks people to first stay in touch, raises $3,750. I recommend you watch my YouTube video which goes into more detail about these figures.

You raise 500% more with my approach!

This is a massive difference, especially if even more people visit your website. The major factor is the initial response rate. When you ask people to donate before building a relationship, the response rate is only 1%. However, if you wait and focus on connecting first, the rate jumps to 15%. When you include the increase in donation amounts, $50 to $100, your fundraising moves forward much quicker.

Great charities understand this. They focus on how to get as many people engaged in their work. They do this by serving them first, not by asking them for money.

In a previous article (7 Ways to Give to Others), I walk you through the seven ways you can serve the people. Then, inspired by what you do, many will financially support you.

How to get people to donate online

How then should you ask for online donations if a prominent donate button isn’t the option?

My suggestion is as follows.

1. Have a donate page rather than a donate button.

2. Rather than inviting strangers (website visitors) to donate, only ask people you know.

3. Find the most personal approach to directing them to the donate page.

4. At specific times of the year, encourage your community to give. (I go into detail in this article how to do exactly this by using the Catechism of the Catholic Church as your foundation.)

5. Thank those people who donate in the most personal way possible. (a card, a phone call, an event, or even lunch)

For those who do not donate, thank them for considering your request, and ask them to consider a donation the next time you ask.

Final thoughts

It’s important to remember that God places people in your life for a reason. If you follow hope fundraising, whereby you place a donate button and hope somebody clicks it, then you may get something. But will that support your dreams, passion, mission, and cause?

Is that going to help you help those around you?

Will this approach move forward with what God is asking you to do?

One of the great qualities of the Catholic Church is that we recognize the uniqueness of everyone’s path, and we take the time to use this as a starting point.

That’s why the sacramental life is so profound. We have seven unique sacraments for seven unique moments of life.

Let’s remember the uniqueness of each person and replicate this in our fundraising. Instead of just hoping people will donate, let’s reach out and look for ways to connect with them.

Question: What do you think is the best approach to getting people to click the donate button? (please leave your comment below)

 

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Why Your Catholic Website Should Not Have a Donate Button

Why should your website not have a donate button? I maintain the parish website (Our Lady of St John Wood) of a priest who is a good friend of mine. Fr Jeff recognized that more and more people discover his church, his choir, and liturgical celebrations through the parish website, YouTube channel, and social profiles.

In the past two years, his Sunday Mass attendance increases month after month. The numbers at his feast and solemnity celebrations also continue to rise, as well as the number of people who attend events throughout the week.

To keep the momentum, Fr Jeff is improving his website because he wants to attract even more Catholics and visitors to his church.

It’s a fact that more people check their email and the internet than they do the mail, newspaper, or television. To sum it up, the internet is where it’s all happening. Pope Benedict called it the digital continent, and you have to be both present and visible.

The majority of people in your area surf the web each day, and many of the searches are for religious activities in their area. Catholics search for a Sunday Mass to attend during their vacations. Lapsed Catholics browse for events that might be interesting in their area. Or maybe they are looking for someone to speak to during a difficult moment. In most cases, they are looking to connect with you in person.

Therefore, your website should direct them to take actions that lead to person to person engagement. This means switching the donate button (which likely takes the most prominent spot on your site and yet is never clicked) for something the visitor actually wants to click and act upon.

Your Catholic website should provide the information that directly matches what people are searching for when browsing the web. This includes parishes, abbeys, cathedrals, charities, schools, universities, retreat center, mission, or any other Catholic cause.

It’s no longer enough just to have a website. You have to provide the information that matches what people search. Fortunately, it’s not a mystery what people want to find. Below I list the four essential pieces of information you should have immediately visible and accessible.

The four essential pieces of information your Catholic website should make visible and easy to access.

Mass/event times

Mass times are the number one piece of information that people search for on the internet. Therefore, put this information front and center on your website. If you are a charity, make sure that you clearly display your upcoming events.

 

Upload your sermon/blog

Allow your parishioners to review your sermon by uploading it as a blog post. Your collection of sermons then makes an excellent reference library for people to learn what the Catholic Church teaches in a format that’s easy to read. If you don’t have sermons, post a weekly blog which explains a topic people are interested in reading.

 

Include a prayer button (rather than donate)

The majority of people who search for Catholic related topics are looking for support and community. Rather than asking for a donation, I recommend you take the more Catholic approach and reach out your hand by replacing the donate button with a prayer or Mass intention button. Remember, people will donate to you when they know who you are and trust you. They don’t give because you asked.

I go into further detail about this topic in another article, 5 simple ways to increase Catholic donations through your website.

 

Contact information

Make clear where you are by including your city, country, and address. Too often when searching for a parish in London England, I find a parish in London, Canada, but it’s not clear where the church is because the contact details just mention London.

Provide a Google map window so people can verify your location, and include the name of your priest, parish secretary, contact phone numbers, and emails. This approach is better than offering a person to complete form because people want to connect with a person, not fill in a form as if they are in a doctor’s waiting room.

 

I provide further details on how to design a great Catholic website in the article, How to have 1,000,000 people visit your Catholic website and donate.

I also outline the different tools and services you can use to make your Catholic website look incredible in this article, How to create an amazing Catholic website.

When you take this approach with your website, you will find more people engaging with you on your website and in person. This is where the magic happens. When people engage with you more, they are more likely to donate. So focus on giving them what they want first, rather than what you want.

Discussion question – What do you think makes a parish website the most useful? (Please leave your comment below.)

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The 6 Steps to Catholic Crowdfunding

Catholic Crowdfunding is a hot topic at the moment. When someone tells you, “Why don’t you crowdfund?” What image pops into your head? Close your eyes for ten seconds, and just watch where your thoughts take you.

What did you think about? Likely, you imagined the many donors, maybe thousands, you could attract with your campaign and the thousands of dollars you could raise.

crowdfunding

This is most people’s perceptions of how crowdfunding works: enormous opportunities in a short time frame with a little bit of work.

Well, I am sorry to say this, but this is not how crowdfunding works. It’s not a Hail Mary to buckets of money at the click of a button.

Before I get into the specifics, I must warn you. I have never done a crowdfunding campaign. (Nor will I likely ever. You will learn why later.) However, I’ve listened to enough people who have crowdfunded and read enough articles on the subject to have a clear idea on the steps.

Reality check – it’s a lot of work

Everyone who has run a successful crowdfunding campaign (at least 6-figures) has told me that it’s a lot of work. Crowdfunding requires preparation work, constant momentum, and a huge amount of follow-up. So, it’s not a one-time, click-of-the-button campaign.

Here are the six fundamental steps for running a successful crowdfunding campaign.

Step 1: Shot a 2-3 minute video about your Catholic crowdfunding campaign

A successful crowdfunding campaign starts by telling your story with a high-quality video. You don’t have to spend lots of money to do this. With the right knowledge and expertise, an iPhone can do the trick.

If you know someone who has experience filming high-quality videos, I recommend asking for their help. The video doesn’t have to be in the style of a movie trailer with beautiful scenary every 5 seconds. It just has to present your story clearly.

I provide additional help on how to tell your story in this post: http://catholicfundraiser.net/increase-donors/

Step 2: Use high-quality photos to present key ideas

To attract people’s attention even further, use quality images to go even further in telling your story. I recommend you have an experienced photographer take these for you. Place these photos on your crowdfunding site and in your video to show people exactly what you want to achieve.

Again, you don’t have to spend large sums of money. I’m sure someone in your network is an amateur photographer who can help.

Step 3: Explain your plans and outcomes after the crowdfunding campaign is successful

You must explain to people what will happen after the campaign is complete. You do this by presenting your step by step plan for moving forward and what outcomes donors can expect to see in the coming months.

The more precise your plan, the better because it clarifies your focus and objectives to make things happens. You and your team will then know what you are all aiming to achieve.

I outline in this post the key steps for defining a project plan: HOW TO WRITE A PROJECT PLAN FOR CROWDFUNDING

Step 4: Itemize the rewards people will receive

Catholic Crowdfunding campaigns offer something in return for each level of contribution. This is important for two reasons.

The first is because it’s always better to give than to receive. So giving back to your donors balances your relationship with them.

The second is to demonstrate appreciation for people’s generosity and faith in your project – even when you have nothing but an idea to show them.

Therefore, make sure the rewards are attractive and connected to your cause. If you are starting a charity that teaches teenagers the value of marriage, make sure the rewards relates to this theme. You could offer resources which donors can use in their parishes and schools.

I teach you on how to do this step in this article: HOW TO FOCUS YOUR FUNDRAISING SO PEOPLE RESPOND

STEP 5: Introduce your team and their passions

It’s important to remember that people give to people, not to organizations. Therefore, provide detailed and personal information about each team member and what inspired them to be part of the project.

You don’t have to go into too much detail but remember that telling a story with a human angle is much better than just offering facts and bullet points.

Also, make sure each team member has a professional headshot. Each person should look at the camera and smile. It’s not a passport photo, so we should get a sense of their personality.

Step 6: Overcome the three biggest obstacles to a Catholic crowdfunding campaign

You must overcome three obstacles when Catholic crowdfunding.

Obstacle 1 – The first is you may annoy people with the constant pushing.

Crowdfunding works best with a high level of visibility in a short amount of time because you have to race forward to your goal in a short timeframe. To do this, you have to continually remind people to donate and update them on your progress.

Obstacle 2 – You cannot keep up the pace necessary to reach your goal.

Crowdfunding is a sprint. If your campaign starts slowing down, or you aren’t pushing enough, you will lose valuable momentum. Also, if you’re thinking of setting the timescale to one year, you are no longer crowdfunding. You are just fundraising, and fundraising has better results using other methods than crowdfunding.

Download my workbook, 10 Steps to Fundraising, to learn how to get over the big roadblocks.

Obstacle 3 – You gain one-off donations instead of building a network of lifelong supporters.

Crowdfunding gives you one-off donations with limited contact information on each person. Great fundraising happens when you inspire people to commit to you for the long haul. If you don’t convert these one-off donors into recurring ones, you will have to find more donors late on to support your ongoing efforts.

A final word of advice on Catholic crowdfunding

One of the best ways to get your campaign off the ground is to have a committed community of supporters before your launch because they can help you have that essential quick start.

If you already have a large community around you, crowdfunding could be an option.

If you are just starting out, I recommend postponing and instead focus on gaining people’s attention and trust.

For additional resources and a platform dedicated to Catholics, visit www.catholicfunder.org, a Catholic-focused crowdfunding platform. They can also advise you on the best alternative platforms to use and more advice on how to run a campaign.

Question

What topic do you want to learn more about crowdfunding?

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Misconceptions about Online Fundraising

When I began to fundraise, I would run from event to event trying to recruit new donors and raise funds. As you can imagine, this strategy is tiresome after a while. Soon, I no longer had nights and some weekends to myself because those precious moments are also when most people are available to meet with me. Was I following misconceptions that really didn’t work?

I quickly felt drained and unmotivated by my work. Even my friends and family were feeling the stress because either I wasn’t with them or when I was, I was too tired to be fully present. Something had to change.

7

I looked into different ways of attracting donors that didn’t require me, or my team, running around. I wanted to find a way where we could meet people, find donors, reach our fundraising goal, stay focused on our work, and, most importantly, enjoy time with family and friends. My research led me to look at the benefits of using more efficiently the internet and social media for attracting donors.

The Power of the Web

I discovered that with a few adjustments, I could attract more people to a website and social media than I had been by meeting people at their parishes or community centers. I thought this was a breakthrough because, among all those people connecting with us online, there were bound to be new donors.

Now, I had to answer the next big question: how do I get them to donate?

Like most organizations do, I placed prominently the donate button on my homepage for everyone to see and waited patiently for the donations to roll in. As more and more people visited my site each month, I thought the donations would be pour in eventually. This unfortunately never happened. I learned that an increase in website traffic and social media engagement doesn’t result in more donations.

At first, I was worried that I would have to return to the old way of fundraising, running from one event to another. I didn’t want to go back to that lifestyle, so I did some more research.

I found Pope Pius VI’s Apostolic Exhortation ‘Evangelisation in the Modern World’ words inspiring:

“The Church would feel guilty before the Lord if she did not utilize these powerful means [mass media and means of social communication] that human skill is daily rendering more perfect. It is through them that she proclaims from the housetops.”

Pope Paul VI wrote this in 1976, just at the start of the technology boom. He inspired me to dig deeper. I had a hunch that he was right. I just had to keep going, and, after a little more trial and error, I found the answer. It was a eureka moment. I had been making false assumptions about how the internet works.

3-2

Yes, people did engage with my online content because they were interested in what I do; however, they were not (at least not yet) ready to donate. I learned four misconceptions about the internet which have helped me use it more effectively in getting donations.

Misconceptions about Online Fundraising

Here are four misconceptions I learned about the internet and fundraising:

[Tweet “A resourceful article about the 4 misconceptions about online giving to help you increase donations.”]

Misconception 1: Just because you have a donate button doesn’t mean people will give.

In reality, you will be lucky if 1%-3% of the people who visit your website will give. People don’t browse your pages looking to give. Rather, they want to learn about your work and how to get involved. They want to connect with you, not give you money.

Therefore, if you focus on engagement, offering them ways to physically get involved, rather than financially, you can, later on, ask for a donation.

Misconception 2: The internet is impersonal and not useful in building relationships.

With how technology has evolved in recent years, the internet has become even more personal. With social media and web applications, you can connect directly with people, regardless of their location or numbers. Some applications even allow you to chat instantly through your website.

By leveraging technology like you would a phone or video camera, you can directly communication with someone, offering them what they really want, a relationship with you and your work.

Misconception 3: I don’t have time for the internet and websites. I have to focus on my work.

Your job involves connecting with people, sharing your message, inspiring them to help you, and transforming lives. The internet helps you do this on a much larger scale because it is available to anyone and everyone, 24/7 wherever there is a connection.

Also, the days of expensive and laborious web design are long gone. Today, a website can be developed and maintained with minimal cost and effort. Also, connecting with people online is less expensive than depending on events, phone calls, and mailings.

Misconception 4: The internet and social media are just not for me.

The internet offers you the ability to connect with over one billion people. Would it not be prudent to assume that among this vast number there are Catholics who would be interested in you and your work? With a little bit of work to set up your online presence, you can connect with all of these people.

Embracing the change which the internet brings expands our capacity to reach more people. Check out the article I wrote on why changing the way you fundraise is important.

[Tweet “Would it not be prudent to connect your Catholic organization with the billion people surfing the web?”]

How to actually raise funds using the internet

After learning these four misconceptions, the next question was: If I can attract lots of people to my work through the web, how can I get them to give eventually?

I turned my attention to improving the two things a website does well: instigating a connection with lots of people and then allowing me the opportunity to build a relationship with them. With the help of website applications and social media platforms, I turned my online presence into a portal of interaction. Instead of asking people to donate, I invited them to my events, asked them to volunteer, and gave them free resources so they can get involved.

If you are a parish, diocese or religious order, check out my previous article on the 5 simple steps you can take to improve your website. It offers practical and concrete recommendations for getting started.

Therefore, instead of running around meeting people, the internet was finding them for me and getting to me where I was. I no longer had to run from one event to another. Instead, I could meet people face to face, build a relationship, and then ask for donations. This was the biggest lesson I learned. People were only ready to donate to me after having met me in person or built a level of trust in what I do.

[Tweet “I found this article helpful. Learn how to actually raise funds using the internet.”]

As I met more people passionate about my work, their trust in what I do picked up as did donations. This was fantastic because in trying to fix one problem, I also improved other elements of my organization. All my events were fully booked. I had an army of volunteers. Most importantly, I and my team were not running around anymore because people were coming to where we were.8

Next steps – changing how we connect with people

I’ve been perfecting how to leverage the internet to attract donors for a while now. The other day I was reviewing the website statistics for a charity I help. Last year they had difficulty filling up their biggest event of the year. It’s the hallmark event that, if goes well, increases their visibility to a lot of people, especially large grant makers, key influencers in their work, and major donors. So, they wanted to make sure everything went smoothly.

For the past year, we had been building their online presence. As a result, the event was fully booked a month in advance and had a substantial waiting list. Also, because we were not worried about getting enough people to attend, we then focused on using real-time video to broadcast the event live via social media. Now, an event that had been planned to have 200 people attend will be seen by thousands. We were bound to make this the most successful event possible, planting as many seeds as possible for future donations.

The bottom line is this: You can either continue running from event to event to meet people where they are, eating up your personal time (sometimes on Sunday when you should actually enjoy the Sabbath with friends and family), as you look for donors, or you can embrace the opportunities the internet provides. You may think that the web means instant donations without meeting people. It doesn’t. Increasing your donors and donations still come from meeting people, connecting with them, and asking them to be part of your future.

Though the real difference is this. Instead of chasing people for donations, people will find you and want to donate. It’s here where the magic happens, so be prepared to welcome many more people on your journey.

If you have questions about improving your web and social presence, send me an email and let’s get you moving forward today.

Discussion Question: What misconceptions do you have about the internet? In what way could this be a sign for you to leverage the web more?

Please let me know what you think by leaving a comment below.

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How to increase your online donations

5 simple ways to increase Catholic donations through your website

I’ve been approached by Catholic parishes (and organizations) to re-design their websites. With nearly everyone streaming the internet these days, your website is one of the best resources for attracting people to your parish, your ministry and your mission.

Websites, however, have experienced a paradigm shift in recent years which most Catholics are not aware of. A few years ago, the focus was on providing loads of information to a generic audience. The focus has now shifted. Rather than seeking information, people now search for content that communicates with them, NOT AT THEM. Web design has responded, making content interact with the user.

Donations

Many Catholics have unfortunately not followed suit. Instead of providing a platform for dialogue, they still overwhelm the reader with a flood of links, photos, details and outdated material. Instead of engaging with their readers, they encourage them to tune out and click ‘close’.

I offer 5 ideas to improve your website. These ideas will increase the dialogue you have with your readers (visitors), which will subsequently increase engagement. Increased engagement is the root of all increases in donations. 

By increasing engagement, readers recognize your value and therefore take the next step, asking, “how can I get involved?”. When a reader reaches this question, this means real opportunities for engaging with your mission and donating.

Here are the 5 ways to increase donations through increased website engagement:

1. Publish your Sunday sermon on your website.

Blogging has become the rave in recent years. What the world doesn’t recognize is that priests have been blogging for 2,000 years! Priests should publish their blog each week, allowing parishioners to read the sermon throughout the week. They can forward it to a friend or family member, and if they missed Mass altogether, they know the sermon is accessible. If someone visits the website, they can read it and engage with what the priest is preaching about on Sundays.

Posting a sermon as a blog allows you to keep in touch with people the entire week. A key reason why people donate is because they value how you nourishes them. If they have access to the sermon 7 days a week, that’s six more days they can be inspired.

Not sure how to build a website or how to improve yours? Check out this step-by-step article I wrote on how to do just that: http://catholicfundraiser.net/how-to-create-your-catholic-website-look-incredible/

2. Buy the domain name.

Too often I see parishes whose domain name has ‘.wordpress.com’ or ‘blogspot.com’. From the laity’s perspective, this looks unprofessional. A domain name costs less than £15 for the year. It also allows you to improve your website’s visibility on the web, meaning people can find your website (your parish) much easier. So, for £15, you can dramatically increase your website traffic, which will lead to more foot traffic to your parish.

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3. Replace the donate button with ‘Mass Intentions’.

Let me explain through an analogy. When a person places a donation in the basket or collection box in church, it’s connected to a prayer. The person is, therefore, engaging both spiritually and physically with your parish.

The same should be for your website. People come to your website for two things in particular: Mass times and location. Why not display next to the Mass times a button that says ‘Mass Intentions’ rather than a ‘donate’ button? This allows the reader to immediately interact with you as if they were in your church. Along with the ‘Mass intention’ button, you could also have a ‘Light a candle’ button.

I wrote an article which outlines and debunks the misconceptions around online donations. Yes, online donations (and getting a lot is a reality). However, not in the way you thought: http://catholicfundraiser.net/online-misconceptions/

Click the button below for a free guide on how to use Google Forms to add Mass offering forms on your website. It’s incredibly easy and a great alternative to the ineffective ‘Donate’ button.

4. Place Mass Times and location directly on your homepage.

As I mentioned, people visit your website primarily for two reasons. They want to know when Mass is and where you are located. Most parish websites, however, make you hunt for this information. They hide it as a link in a dropdown menu (which are not practical for smartphones, so I recommend not using them at all. This is web design from the 90s and outdated…), between blurry/dark photos of past events and a long description of its history. Why not keep things simple and give people what they want immediately without overflowing them with information? By designing your website for the reader, they will more than likely do two things. One, they will visit your parish, and two, return to your website to find the next Mass time.

5. Track your web traffic.

There is little reason to have a website if no one is visiting it. Today, a website is one of the most effective methods for reaching out to people. Knowing how many people visit your site (‘web traffic’) can help you understand if you are reaching out to people. It’s very similar to tracking your ‘foot traffic’ in your church.

With a website, people don’t have to physically enter your church. They can ‘come in’ from the comfort of their home, their work and even the local restaurant. By tracking your website statistics, you can know how well you are doing to attract people. Google Analytics and SEO statistics (all free with a domain website) allow you to easily track these statistics for and help you learn how to increase your web traffic.

You can learn how to track and improve your web traffic in 2 minutes by reading this article: http://catholicfundraiser.net/how-to-have-more-people-visit-your-catholic-website-and-donate/

I hope these ideas have been helpful. I have used them to improve Catholic websites and seen the results.

What do you think would increase Catholic donations through your website?

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