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 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.
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.