All Staff /; Mark Jumes His areas of practice include QuickBooks consultation, bookkeeping, preparation of payroll reports, and income tax “The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way;” (Psalm 37:23). We have lots of them here cranking out groundbreaking releases every single month. An installer for the QuickBooks Web Connector software is available to Solutions for existing users All Rights Reserved invoice management for total. Psalm 23:2 Make sure you bring all liability waivers printed and signed. You can pay online securely by card or bank through your Quickbooks Invoice.
Psalm 23 various versions of quickbooks - agree, this
Tag: parish office
With modern technology becoming more accessible in recent years, and our communities facing unique circumstances due to COVID-19, many parishes have made the shift to provide online services to their parishioners. They’ve included online giving, mass messaging, and live- streaming. Now, in a time when our opportunities to gather as a community are limited, these options are more important than ever.
Volunteers can play an essential role in personalizing online services, but they need to know what to do. Every parish is unique, but here are a few ideas:
1. Enlist volunteers to be Digital Greeters
Just because Mass is being held online doesn’t mean you should sacrifice the opportunity to make personal connections. Set your online church apart from the rest by having dedicated volunteers to meet people as they sign on for a service and have a real-time conversation with them. This is a great tradition to have during every online service but will likely be even more impactful for those signing on during a time of limited socializing amid the Coronavirus.
2. Schedule volunteers to connect with elderly members
Volunteers can call your elderly members daily on the phone to chat and see if there’s anything they need help with. Older members may have very limited or no experience with technology that you’re implementing to get your services online. They may also not have anyone around to help them navigate the tech world that they’ve been unwittingly dropped into. Having a team of volunteers that can take time to connect with these members and offer assistance will go a long way in serving your parish.
3. Let volunteers be your mass communicators
Have volunteers post updates and messages on social media and your website as well as respond to comments. Being active in online messaging is crucial to bringing your community together and identifying yourself as a resource to your members. It can be a lot to keep up with, so have a team of volunteers to make sure information is up-to-date and being regularly maintained.
It is also helpful for your members to know where they can reach out and get the answers they are looking for. Have a dedicated individual (or a few) responding to messages and comments in any online presences your church maintains.
4. Put together a streaming team
Ask tech-savvy volunteers to assist with live streaming or recording homilies to add to your parish app. It never hurts to have a few extra sets of hands! There’s a lot to keep an eye on when live-streaming, so make sure you have a good support crew to help.
Audio and video are essential elements to monitor so you don’t have to worry about parishioners not being able to see or hear you during Mass. You may even want to have Mass recorded to be streamed later by those unable to attend. This can require some minimal post-production editing and/or adding it to your hosting platform like your website or parish app.
Having some tech-savvy volunteers to help with these steps will make the process much more seamless and allow you to focus on delivering the best services to your members on a regular basis.
Many people are looking for ways to serve their communities. Inspiring volunteers to help bring your service online is a great opportunity for everyone to get involved.
When recruiting new volunteers, continue following the proper due diligence for background checks. You’ll want to ensure online Sunday School and other activities for children are run by people that pass the appropriate screenings. Volunteers that help manage giving or financials should also be screened to prevent theft.
ParishSOFT Giving and our church management system, Family Suite has a range of features that make it easy for volunteers to sign up and help. To learn more call us at 866-930-4774 x6.
Giving thanks to God for all the good things he has done is something that should pour out of the heart of every believer. Parish leaders and clergy have a unique opportunity to inspire and teach gratitude.
Scripture points us to this act of worship in the Psalms. “Come, let us sing joyfully to the LORD; cry out to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with a song of praise, joyfully sing out our psalms. For the LORD is the great God, the great king over all gods.” – Psalms 95:1-3
Finding ways for your ministry to encourage people to overflow with thankfulness doesn’t have to be strenuous. Here are just a few ways you can focus on teaching gratitude this season.
A Couple Things to Keep in Mind
Not everyone thinks exactly like you and responds in the same way as you do. To lead your parishioners well, it’s important to remember these truths because God created every person uniquely. Teaching gratitude requires knowledge of different ways people can respond in thankfulness, so all people feel comfortable expressing their feelings to the Lord.
It is also important to note that in order to inspire gratitude, people must know about your gratitude campaign and get on board.
Methods of Teaching Gratitude
Acts of Service
Performing acts of service is a great way for people to express their gratitude for all the Lord has done in their life. Giving back to families in need or to organizations who are making an impact can provide your parish leaders with a strategic way to rejoice in the Lord. It also encourages others to see the goodness of God’s grace by receiving the act of service. Here is a list of acts of service to get you started:
- Serving at a local soup kitchen
- Making meals for the elderly
- Cleaning the house of a family in need
- Starting a meal train for a family who has a new baby
- Encourage Quality Time to Teach Gratitude
Quality time is a great way to call those in your ministry together to teach them how to be grateful. Set aside time for people to share with each other about the things God has done and rejoice with each other about each thing. Encourage them to go out and find ways to spend quality time with their family members and friends to rejoice in the Lord, even if it’s a hard season. Often, people need to find the positive hand of God in their life if they are going through a rough season, and this is one way you can point them back to Christ.
Use Words of Affirmation to Teach Gratitude
Even though it might seem simple, words of affirmation are great ways to encourage your parishioners to be thankful. One way to teach gratitude is by giving people a list of Thanksgiving Bible verses to read back to the Lord. Repeating God’s truth back to God reminds each believer of the deep truth scripture holds for us. You can even encourage your members to write these truths out and give it to others in your parish or community. Here’s a list of Bible references to get you started.
- 1 Chronicles 16:34
- Ezra 3:11
- Psalm 7:17
- Psalm 100:4
- Jeremiah 30:19
- 1 Corinthians 1:4
- Ephesians 5:4
- Philippians 4:6
- 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Give Gifts to Teach Gratitude
Making small gifts that have Bible verses about gratitude attached to them is another strategic way parishioners can show their gratitude. Here’s a list of ways to use these gifts:
- Hand out small gifts to each person in your parish
- Provide necessities to those in need in your community
- Serve families with whatever gift they may need in whatever season they are in (elderly couples, new families, families who just lost a job, etc.)
If you try any of these ideas, we’d love to hear from you. Contact us and let us know how it goes!
Below is an excerpt from the new book Becoming a Welcoming Church. Your parish can become more welcoming, because regardless of how welcoming you may think it already is there are always ways you can improve.
Here are some simple adjustments that cost little to nothing that will have great results:
- Check the website – Your parish’s website is its front door to guests. The content and design need to be focused on them, not on the members.
- Do a facility audit – A dirty or unkempt children’s area will turn guests away from your church.
- Train a welcome team – It doesn’t take a lot of work to train a welcome team. It just takes intentionality.
- Keep greeters in the worship center – Door greeters are great but having someone to greet those in the worship center may be more important.
- Paint a room – sometimes a new coat of paint can make all the difference. It makes a statement.
- Get some inexpensive (plastic) signs – you need signage inside and outside of the building for directions and encouragement. Some examples include signs for parking, guest parking, nursery, pre-school, restrooms, thanks for visiting, you are now entering the mission field and so forth.
Resources for more ideas:
Is your parish ready to become more welcoming? Contact a ParishSOFT Sales Consultantto find out how to manage your parish guests and to help you make them full-time parishioners.
Looking for ways to keep your parish staff inspired and eager to spread the Gospel? Recognizing individual value is a great place to start, but truly motivating a group of parish employees and volunteers can be more involved than anniversary dinners and thank you notes.
Today’s parish staff is often a mix of generations, and your challenge is to inspire them to work well together. While that may seem daunting, it doesn’t have to be. Creating clear goals, understanding how each person contributes towards them, and providing the right tools for the job can help each staff member achieve satisfaction and look forward to work.
ParishSOFT has been working in ministry for over two decades, so we thought we’d help you out (from experience) by creating a list of seven ways to motivate parish staff. We came up with seven that we think work really well. Go ahead, get inspired.
1. Encourage Staff to use their Spiritual Gifts
Everyone has unique strengths they can contribute to your overall goals. Budget time for making sure your staff members understand and are able to use their talents. For example, if one of your staff members has the gift of serving and ministering, ask them to find specific nonprofits your parish could send volunteers to assist. If another staff member is a gifted leader, put them in charge of a new leadership project. By understanding everyone’s gifts, you’ll be able to see a better picture of how the body of Christ works and discover what it’s like to work with people who know they are valued.
2. Preach Purpose to Motivate Staff
Take the concept of discovering and using spiritual gifts a few steps further. Show each staff member the value of their work. Involve your staff when you are making decisions, such as which local nonprofit your parish can help sponsor. Get their feedback and buy-in. Creating these connections instills a sense of purpose, so church staff members can not only feel valued but they also clearly understand and are emotionally committed to projects.
3. Cultivate Culture to Motivate Your Staff
Host fun staff events. Provide flexible hours. Ditch the formal wear and create a laid-back environment. Ironically, if you work hard to cultivate a culture that is attractive to a younger generation, even when it seems opposite of what you should be doing, they will be all-in when it comes to working extra hours when needed and putting in extra effort to make things run successfully. If you show employees and volunteers you care, they will show you they care too.
4. Encourage Big Ideas
Some people are visionary, and more than likely you have some of these people on your parish staff. Creating regular opportunities for people to share their thoughts about the direction of your parish may open you up to valuable insights you might not have had otherwise.
5. Build Up Your Team
Team building is critical for any group of people working together and could be one of the most important pieces to motivating your parish staff. Rather than use traditional methods of hosting a staff pot-luck to bring people together, try thinking outside the box. The best team-building experiences are those that make your parish staff forget they are at work.
Happiness and learning are very closely tied together, so by providing an opportunity for your church staff to have fun, they will begin to learn from each other and trust each other more. The more your team trusts each other, the stronger their bonds will be. The stronger their bonds, the more committed and motivated your church staff will be to accomplish daily tasks.
6. Use Technology to Motivate Staff
If a parish doesn’t have good quality technology, studies have shown that younger generations are more likely to leave to go work somewhere that is more up-to-date. Find solutions that integrate (work together) well and make the administrative work of ministry easy to perform and understand. Be sure to show staff members how church management software can be used to bring more people to Christ and help them grow in faith.
It’s not about attendance numbers and group messaging, it’s about connecting people with opportunities to learn and grow. The data they’re collecting has an essential purpose. Make sure to emphasize those connections and provide tools that streamline processes and can propel your church to reach more people in a more intentional way.
7. Consider Providing Remote Working Opportunities
We know, we know. While some companies use this to attract and motivate staff it’s not typically a parish staff option. But, really, why not? By allowing staff to work from home (even if they need to physically come in on occasion) you provide them not only with an opportunity to work in their comfy clothes but you also show them that you trust their work ethic and value them as a human being.
If this seems overwhelming to you, take a deep breath. There are ways to make work-from-home opportunities easier.
What To Do
- Schedule a check-in phone call or text around mid-morning to make sure they have everything they need. Make sure to keep it simple and supportive, not demeaning and distrusting.
- Using an efficient church management software like our web-based ParishSOFT Family Suite, keeps everything flowing smoothly. It allows all tasks to be easily assigned so your church staff can update their to-do list and you can stay in-the-know about their productivity.
What Not To Do
- Schedule a long meeting during the day so you can make sure they are working. Give them space to go at their own pace. You’ll be surprised how much work people can get done when you simply allow breathing room.
- Constantly check up on them through text messages, emails, phone calls, and the occasional undercover detective you hired to make sure they are staying on task. Trust your church staff to do what they say they will do.
If you find that you need to motivate your parish staff more than you realized, don’t stress. We’re here to help make sure you have all the strategies you need to be successful. ParishSOFT staff over the years have been pastors, elders, children’s ministers, youth workers, and volunteers, and we get it. We understand that ministry is about reaching people and helping them grow. That’s why every software decision we make – from calendars and workflows to group management and mass communication, and everything in between – is intended to help your parish staff focus on ministry. We’d love to talk to you about how we can help. Contact us onlineanytime and let us know how we can assist your parish.
Making visitors to your parish feel welcome when they arrive at your parish is a top priority. Preferred parking, enthusiastic greeters and a comfortable environment all play an important part in the essential first impression. But perhaps nothing has become a standard welcome for parishes like providing a generous welcome gift to first-time guests. Here are six affordable visitor gift ideas for your parish.
Visitor Gift #1: A Handwritten Welcome
Gifts don’t always have to be expensive. Including a handwritten card from one of the pastors is a great way to give a first-time visitor a warm welcome.
Visitor Gift #2: Writing Instruments
No one wants a cheap, plastic pen, but a quality pen is always welcome, as is a Bible highlighter and/or an inspirational journal for taking notes during the homily.
Visitor Gift #3: Candy
You can’t go wrong with candy. Hard candies, decadent chocolates and even individually wrapped mints are a pleasant surprise for anyone with a sweet tooth…which is just about everyone.
Visitor Gift #4: Books, CDs, and Bibles
Give the gift of teaching by giving away a book by the pastor, a worship CD, a CD message or even a Bible in the same translation the pastor regularly uses.
Visitor Gift #5: Church Information
Though parish information may not seem that exciting on the surface, most visitors are actively seeking information about what your parish and parishioners. By providing a statement of faith, a flyer introducing the various pastors, an upcoming events calendar and a list of active ministries and meeting times, visitors have everything they need at their fingertips for getting involved right away.
Visitor Gift #6: Drinks, Cups, and T-shirts
Whether it’s a nice water bottle or a coffee mug with the parish’s logo on it, people almost always enjoy a gift that’s practical. Give them a beautifully-designed t-shirt and you might even start seeing a new fashion statement in town.
BONUS Visitor Gift: Don’t Forget the Kids!
As much as adults enjoy receiving a gift from a new parish, nothing can warm a family’s heart like receiving gifts for their children. A backpack with school supplies or even a decorative plastic name tag for the littlest ones’ diaper bags is always a bonus.
Keep Them Coming Back for More
A nice gift alone won’t ensure a visitor returns, but it’s a great way to break the ice, inspire a warm feeling, and allow a visitor to see the heart of your parish.
ParishSOFT is here to help you provide the tools and resources your parish staff and parishioners need, and we welcome you to reach out and learn more about our integrated product suites! Simply call 866-930-4774 x6 or contact our sales team to learn more!
Technology is always evolving, and it’s vital for parish leaders to understand how to respond to these tech trends and advancements. If you look back over the last few decades, you’ll notice how drastically the landscape has altered. Shifting tech trends are increasingly playing a more prominent role in influencing how the parish shares the Gospel with parishioners and your local community. Today, many parishes across the world are starting to leverage technology to great effect. But as everything continues to change around us, what trends should parishes focus on in 2019?
The Importance of Mobile
Mobile use has been on an upward trajectory ever since the launch of the first smartphone. It’s the channel of choice for many parishioners, especially millennials. ParishSOFT has seen parishes begin to actively use mobile technology to target individuals and grow their relationship with members. To better engage this younger generation, you must reach them where they are. And that’s on mobile.
Almost 92 percent of all millennials own a smartphone, and the vast majority are active on social media. Being present on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook opens an opportunity for parish leaders to serve an even bigger audience.
In keeping with a mobile-first strategy, parishes are also optimizing their websites for mobile devices. And with Google now changing its search engine algorithms to favor mobile-friendly sites, expect this trend to continue into 2019.
For more details on how to create a mobile-friendly website with the help of our Ministry Brands partners, contact your ParishSOFT Sales Consultant online or call 866-930-4774 x6.
Growing Use of Parish Apps
Another prevailing parish tech trend is the use of apps, both on mobile and TV. Parishes are utilizing apps for a myriad of reasons such as a source of up-to-date information on parish events and compile an archive of all past homilies. Many parish leaders are also using parish apps to offer mid-week homilies and interact with parishioners in real-time. These apps feature tools such as a prayer request wall and social media integration where parishioners can submit prayer requests and comment on social media posts respectively. This trend is only going to grow as parishioners become more tech-savvy and digitally-native.
MinistryOneis an effective parish app solution for ParishSOFT Giving customers. To learn more, contact your ParishSOFT Sales Consultant online or call 866-930-4774 x6.
Video Streaming is for Parishes of All Sizes
Live streaming is no longer the sole domain of megaparishes with big budgets. The year 2019 will be remembered as the year small and medium-size faith organizations joined the digital frontier with live streaming services and video-on-demand. Thanks to the rise of OTT services like Roku, parishes can now stream their events and homilies at a fraction of the cost.
Roku’s streaming potential has given parishes enormous potential to increase viewership and reach more people across the world. With the service, parishioners can view mass or see past homilies on their TV.
With a Roku channel, parishes can broadcast their Sunday mass live and enable those who cannot be physically present due to sickness, old age or personal commitments to participate. It helps keep parishioners connected to the parish and allows them to share the joy with their friends and family.
If you are yet to join the trend, you might want to consider it. Roku lists all channels publicly making it easier to attract new viewers. Content solutions such as churchstreaming.tv can help get your parish on television apps such as Roku easily and with features that will fit your parish’s needs.
Summary of the Top Tech Trends for 2019
Parishes have embraced technology, and given that the year is still young, expect to see several parish tech trends becoming more standard. Video streaming, parish apps and the shift to a mobile-first approach are just three of the major trends. There are many more ways in which faith-based organizations can leverage technology and attain new heights.
Looking for Church Management Software that incorporates all these trends?
Check out ParishSOFT Family Suite and thencontact us to find out how we can partner with you to provide the software solutions your parish needs to be successful.
Summer presents parishes with a unique set of challenges.
Everything from home improvement projects to vacations distract people from their normal routine. This causes attendance to drop an average of 23% in June and 34% in July. With a decline in attendance, there’s often a dip in giving too.
Even with empty seats, parishes must keep their parishioners engaged and provide a welcoming visitor experience. Over 40 million people move each year, and 80% do so between May and September. That leaves more than 34% of people looking for a new place of worship after relocating.
As if balancing all these summer variables isn’t enough, it’s essential to stay within budget.
Don’t worry—we’ve got you covered!
With a few best practices in place, you can avoid the headaches and beat the summer slump for good. Check out the 9 tips below to help you stay on track.
1. Introduce people to on-the-go giving
A glance around a coffee shop, grocery store, or even your home perfectly illustrates why mobile has the greatest reach over all other technology. Phones are constantly in our hands, whether we’re on-the-go or in for the night. By introducing digital giving, people can give wherever and whenever they’re inspired.
When introducing (or re-introducing) digital giving tools, know that 65% of people are visual learners. Show people how to sign up and give using their smartphones. Add dedicated slides before service, share videos on social media, and demonstrate how to give with your own phone!
2. Launch a parish app
Take engagement a step further than digital giving and launch a parish app this summer. If you join ParishSOFT Giving for a 30-day free trial, you can also try MinistryOne, the powerful church app that can be used for prayer requests, media, push notifications, and more! Especially when your parishioners are on the move, it’s crucial to offer an easily accessible way to watch homilies.
3. Participate in other charities
Over 54% of people give to more than one church or nonprofit. By learning about other foundations and charitable activities that your people are passionate about, you’ll keep them engaged in the parish’s mission too.
For instance, if a group from your parish is volunteering to rebuild homes for natural disaster victims, organize a fundraiser to help buy supplies. When you get involved in their causes, you nurture a culture of generosity and bring everyone together.
4. Follow a checklist for welcoming guests
Walking into a new place isn’t easy. Visitors need somewhere to start so that they feel comfortable. In the summer when attendance slows, the way you welcome new guests may be lacking. A simple solution is to follow a checklist, regardless of how many people are in attendance. Here are a few items to add:
- Station greeters at entranceways
- Set up a visitor center
- Identify staff and volunteers with name tags or matching shirts
- Explain parts of your service that may be unique to new guests
- Place contact cards in pews (and keep them short and simple!)
5. Loop parents into summer activities
With kids being out of school in the summer, there’s an uptick in activities planned just for them. VBS, movie nights, church sports leagues, and more fill parent’s calendars. While kids love these activities, remember they can’t go without someone to bring them!
Focus on the parents, so they’re just as excited as the kids. Greet them as they drop off and pick up their children. Have short conversations when you see them about how well their child is doing. Encourage them to get involved if they show interest (but keep the commitment level low for busy parents).
6. Start encouraging recurring gifts
High-growth parishes that exceed their annual budget each year have one thing in common—they all accept automatic, recurring gifts. Recurring giving works, especially when it comes to avoiding the summer slump.
If you want people to take recurring giving seriously, you need to lead them in that direction! Show them where to begin, and then do it repeatedly.
7. Say thank you for every gift
Thanking someone 24 hours to 2 weeks after a gift increases future generosity up to 40%. People appreciate the gratitude and add more to their current gift or give a second time.
Take it a step further and create a communication calendar to help you stay organized and build relationships. A communication calendar goes beyond raising money, so it never feels like a one-off gift. Add future dates to reach out beyond sending the thank you to keep lines of communication open.
8. Create a positive online experience
Before people walk through your doors, they’re going to check out your website and social media (especially if they’re new to the area). Create an online experience that reflects your church and answers their questions. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Promptly respond to people that reach out
- Spread the word about upcoming parish activities
- Post images and videos of your parish in action at summer events
- Have a dedicated section for new visitors on what to expect
- Create fresh content to show your online presence is current
9. Focus on relationships
While retaining givers and participants at church is a primary goal, ultimately, what you’ll be doing is building relationships. This takes time, but summer is ideal for getting to know your congregation a little better.
When thanking givers, invite them to join a Bible study group or attend an upcoming summer activity. Sometimes all it takes is extending a warm invitation to make people feel welcome and want to come back!
Want to hear more about how ParishSOFT can unify your entire church administration, increase productivity, and bring your parish together? Contact us today at 866-930-4774 x6 or online at parishsoft.com/contact-us.
There’s no shortage of data in the world today. More data was created in the last two years than in the previous 5,000. In fact, 90% of the data we currently use was created in the last two years! For churches, the enormous amount of giving data is enough to make your head spin, but it’s still necessary to collect, organize, and apply it. Healthy parishes know that with the right giving information at their fingertips, they’re better equipped to cultivate generosity and grow their vision.
Before collecting another piece of giving data (or ignoring it because of the overwhelming amount), here are four time-saving tips to help organize and make it actionable this year:
1. Access a System that Seamlessly Collects Giving Information for You
In the past, there were fewer ways to give to the Church. Today, people can tithe 24/7 on a range of devices and use a variety of payment methods. While this convenience inspires generosity, it also provides useful information. Not to mention the giving data and statistics coming in from sources other than your ministry.
By taking advantage of time-saving tools for online giving data collection, your parish directly accesses the information you need to identify giving trends. With a powerful online giving platform, navigating through different reporting options is effortless because the layout is clean and understandable. When the parish receives a tithe, whether it’s via text, mobile app, or branded donation page, it goes straight to the reporting system for you to view.
2. Analyze Giving Data that Enhances Generosity Campaigns
With access to an easy-to-use reporting system that collects online giving data, you can select the information you want to see to better forecast for the future. There are hundreds of customizable reports to choose from, and each one provides ministries with opportunities to improve generosity campaigns and understand tithing patterns.
Some examples of helpful reports are:
- Recurring giving information
- Daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly giving activities
- Most recent donations
- Most successful giving days
- Custom date range reports
These reports help your staff stay organized by giving them the information they need to make the best decisions to encourage more giving. You can also have reports emailed to you and print them off if you prefer. There are also graphical reports available to help you get a bird’s eye view of giving patterns.
3. Schedule a Set Time to Review Giving Data
The primary reason to collect and organize data is to review and apply it. Schedule a set time every week, month, or quarter to look over the online giving information you’ve gathered. Knowing where to focus your attention saves time and energy.
For instance, let’s say you notice that recurring givers in your ministry donate 10% more than one-time givers. In your next generosity campaign, emphasize the convenience and benefits of signing up for recurring giving.
4. Get Rid of Giving Data that Isn’t Relevant
A key to staying organized is to purge information that’s no longer useful. This type of data is distracting and can muddy the waters when you’re sifting through current information.
Your parish’s needs can change in the blink of an eye based on natural disasters, building repairs, and more. By keeping data organized and up-to-date, you can quickly adjust your strategy for generosity campaigns.
ParishSOFT is committed to helping parishes and churches large and small streamline their giving process. We provide the software and the plan that can help your parish make the leap to digital giving. To find out how, contact us at 866-930-4774 x6.
Source: Valerie Russell – Content Specialist for Ministry Brands
Encouraging parishioners to serve is an important part of the parish’s role in the community and, more importantly, in helping each parishioner grow in their relationship with Christ. But how do we find these superstar servants who freely give their time, energy, and expertise? Where are they all hiding? ParishSOFT has some suggestions.
1. Just Ask
This first point seems obvious, but it’s often overlooked. You need to actually ask people to serve. You may think it’s self-evident, but you’d be surprised how many members just don’t know how to find opportunities to serve.
Extend the invitation to volunteer across all your communication channels:
- Does your website include a section for service opportunities?
- Do you regularly highlight volunteers and service activities on social media?
- Do you call out specific opportunities during mass, in the bulletin, and at Sunday School classes?
- Do you regularly circulate the needs for short-term service projects with Small Group leaders?
- Do you feature service opportunities in your member newsletter, along with a call-to-action to volunteer?
- What are you doing to make it easy for your current volunteers to invite their friends to a service event?
In addition to spreading the word, don’t forget to ask people one-on-one. You may have supporters who would love to get more involved with your parish if they only knew you wanted them. Consider setting up a display and meeting people in your parish lobby. Set up a laptop so members can sign up on the spot.
Once you start looking outside your immediate circle of regular volunteers, your website and church management software (ChMS) like ParishSOFT Family Suite are there to help you. Using your website to serve as a central place for posting volunteer opportunities is always a good idea but using a ChMS that has a robust volunteer pipeline to expedite the process is always key to making it easier on those looking to serve and for parish administrators handling the backend processing and communications.
2. Be Specific
“Volunteer” is not a specific description of a job. All it means is that someone is volunteering time to do a task. If you put out a general call for volunteers no one knows exactly what you mean. Ask for people to do the specific jobs: ushers, greeters, childcare, or small group leaders. Prospective volunteers will know exactly what you’re looking for and see themselves in your call for service.
Point to the specific skills that volunteers need to do the job. If you’re willing to teach someone how to do something, make sure you mention it. (Likewise, if you need special experience, make that clear, too.) Getting specific also helps to get around any mistaken ideas about volunteering. Specifics paint a clearer picture.
3. Focus on the Volunteer
Flip the question: ask why they need you. Why should someone give time to your parish? “We need help!” may be true, but it doesn’t make the most compelling case for volunteering. Instead, focus on what volunteers gain by giving their time.
- Point out that as Christians we are called to serve. (Mark 10:45)
- Making a difference by helping others in the community
- Using their skills and talents for the Kingdom
- Meeting others in the community and sharing the Gospel
- Serving a cause they believe in
4. Keep it Simple
Is signup easy? Are the staff members they encounter friendly and helpful? Don’t underestimate the power of a form that won’t load, a cold-sounding administrator, or an unreturned phone call to turn a member off your service opportunities.
Look at your website. Does it clearly lay out the next steps toward becoming a volunteer? Does it link directly to your ChMS to help expedite the process (especially where volunteers need to have extra steps like background checks), and does it automatically respond with a confirmation email and alert the right coordinator? When someone expresses an interest in volunteering with you, follow up quickly, even if it’s just to say, “Thanks, we’ll get back to you soon.”
5. Provide Opportunities for Different Levels of Engagement
Maximize the number of volunteers you can appeal to by providing opportunities to help out at different levels of commitment. Some like organizing large-scale events like bagging meals for foreign missions. Make sure you offer a variety of service opportunities. Make it clear in your volunteer content that you have opportunities for different levels of commitment. If someone has a positive experience doing a small volunteer assignment for your church, they may consider getting more involved in the future.
Once you’ve recruited a new service volunteer, you’ve only just begun! Now you’ll need to manage and retain them. Retention is the opposite side of the recruitment coin, and it might even be more important. It’s important that you have a church management application that can track and report their engagement over time: this can help you spot trends and modify your volunteer strategies. Serving the Church and the community is one of the best ways for parishioners to grow in their walk with Christ. Make sure you make it easier for all your members to participate in this critical opportunity.
From Ministry Tech
Vocations in the United States to the priesthood and consecrated life have been on the rise almost continually since 2011. This does not negate however, the precipitous decline compared to previous years, the challenges of decreased participation and the resulting strain on parish life and ministry. In this space ripe for opportunity, many Catholics have rallied to the cry of Vatican II; reawakening to their baptismal call to be servant-leaders, whatever their vocation, in accordance with the gifts and talents given them.
A strong surge of men and women increasingly dedicate their careers to the Church as lay ecclesial ministers. Coming alongside them, parishes are also discovering the unique contribution of trusted volunteers. Trusted volunteers are vetted and qualified individuals filling a defined role within the parish office.
Unlike a typical volunteer, trusted volunteers are screened and qualified to handle sensitive information, such as for offering and ministry. A precautionary framework, careful selection of volunteer candidates and the maintenance of review protocols are the additional safeguards that protect parishioner data and ensure organizational effectiveness. Successfully implemented, trusted volunteers alleviate staff workload and promote a culture of stewardship where parishioner contributions are valued, sought out and applied for maximum effect.
Establishing a trusted volunteer position requires first defining the role. Similar to a job description, a clear understanding and articulation of the specific need, parameters, and associated responsibilities are foundational to attract suitable candidates. A well-defined position also provides the framework to evaluate effectiveness long-term.
In order to maintain team unity and prevent confusion, a clear understanding of how volunteer roles fit into the parish office structure is needed. Volunteer responsibilities may include tasks previously owned by staff and it is important to acknowledge the hard work and achievements of current staff. Trusted volunteers are not intended to replace staff, but free them to do the tasks that only they can do.
A sound job description sets the stage for recruitment. You may choose to start with an established parishioner gift inventory or list of parishioners looking for service opportunities. If you are currently tracking job information, strengths and ministry preferences in your ParishSOFT software, this is an opportunity to utilize filtered lists, advanced search criteria or the ParishSOFT Intelligent Query module to mine your data for potential candidates. Likewise, the role description also provides what is needed for a compelling “advertisement” for the bulletin or other parish media channels.
Once potential candidates have been identified or stepped forward, clearly communicate the volunteer role parameters and invite them to consider learning more about the service opportunity. It is important that the invitation communicate that this is a joint discernment: the parishioner is invited to learn more about the role and the parish is likewise conscientiously considering whether the person would be a good fit. Similar to a job, the interview is a necessary part of this process.
Invite interested candidates to a meeting or “interview.” Pax Christi Catholic Community, Eden Praire, Minnesota, refers to these meetings as “discernment sessions.” You may find a similar name to be beneficial in helping parishioners and staff understand the goal of these initial meetings. The discernment, or interview, process is not a mere formality, but a joint process of careful examination to determine fit.
Requisite qualifications may include the aptitude and ability to maintain confidentiality, trustworthiness and data entry skills. In order to invite them fully into the discernment process, role requirements, tasks, and other pertinent factors are discussed openly with candidates, recognizing that a lack of suitability for this role simply means the possibility of serving in another capacity.
Parishioners are always encouraged to give their time and talents to the many avenues of service at a parish. It is imperative to honor the trust parishioners and donors have placed in the parish by taking the necessary measures to protect their privacy and personal data. This safekeeping includes maintaining professional standards, insisting upon data integrity and limiting potential breaches in confidentiality. Consequently, it is of vital importance to establish and implement standards for trusted volunteer positions, and to uphold them consistently . . . never sacrificing standards according to resources that appear to be available.
Once you and the volunteer candidate have determined that it is likely a good fit, confirm the choice through appropriate measures. For example, anyone working with money requires, at minimum, a background check. Likewise, Virtus or comparable training and background screening are mandatory for those working with or around vulnerable adults and children. If your parish currently has an agreement of acceptable standards, code of conduct, or additional safety and security requirements, address these items, as well.
As in the interview process, frank discussion sets expectations of appropriate behavior and modes of operating. Topics to address may include the concerted effort to “forget” parishioners’ personal information (such as contribution and pledge amounts). Open dialogue regarding professional standards is an important step pointed toward preserving parishioner trust, respecting privacy and setting the criterion for parish office operations.
If working within the ParishSOFT system, the volunteer will be set up with a unique login and system permissions appropriate to their role. The ParishSOFT system grants unlimited logins at no additional cost, while the system administrator at the parish sets permissions.
Appropriate permissions ensure the individual does not have access to unnecessary information and can only perform the tasks needed. For instance, if a trusted volunteer is responsible for entering pledges, she will not be given permission to see parishioner giving history nor to delete a parishioner record. It will not be the standard that volunteers are able to see financial or family records at liberty.
Permissions and preventative measures communicate the parish’s commitment to building a culture of verified trust. Parishioners can expect their personal information and privacy to be protected at every point of interaction with the parish through prudence and due diligence.
You want your volunteers to feel gratified and competent in their work, not frustrated. You also want them to stay onboard. A training protocol will greatly ease transition and contribute significantly to volunteer and parish office success. Skimping on training is a recipe for uncertainty, turnover, and potential fallout from issues of data integrity. A best practice is to partner each volunteer position with a staff member willing and able to train and oversee the volunteer. Ideally these two positions will complement each other, enabling them to work cohesively as a team.
If volunteers are utilizing the ParishSOFT system, it is simple to assemble a basic curriculum of handpicked training videos and how-to articles from the ParishSOFT Support Center. Volunteers who use this resource will learn about the library of readily available help resources within the ParishSOFT applications and the Support Center, should they have additional questions.
Oversight and Review
Checks and balances enable prudent operation and promote effectiveness. It follows that it is necessary to establish oversight and a review process for the work of trusted volunteers. Although rarely suspected, the number of instances of fraud and embezzlement in the Church mandate that parishes always be on guard and have systems in place to deter predators and foster transparency. We are all accountable when it comes to protecting church resources.
It is also necessary to ask the question: is this working? Likely the parish will encounter volunteers who will need to be redirected to ministries more closely aligned with their talents. This can be done with tact and compassion, honoring their willingness to serve and providing suggestions for a more suitable position if desired.