Online giving helping churches stay afloat during pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic is giving a boost to online giving for parishes and other institutions in the Diocese of Nashville.

“Our online giving has gone pretty well,” said Ashley Linville, stewardship director for the diocese. “We’re starting to see an increase in giving that way.”

After the public celebrations of Masses were suspended in the diocese because of the COVID-19 pandemic, parishes and the diocese turned to online giving as a way to replace Sunday collections.

“There’s still a lot of fixed costs that aren’t going to change whether people are there or not,” such as debt payments, mortgages and payroll, Linville said. “Parishes are trying to keep staffers paid. They’re still trying to minister to their parishioners. They’re still trying to keep them informed and connected to the parish.”

About half of the diocese’s 58 churches already offered an online giving option for parishioners, Linville said. “So a lot of people are continuing to go through their parish,” he said.

To help those churches that don’t offer an online giving option, the diocese aded a webpage where parishioners can set up online giving for any parish they choose and Catholic Charities of Tennessee.

Those interested in online giving can visit https://offeratory.dioceseofnashville.com and select the church they want to donate to, as well as the amount and the frequency. There also is link from that page to a Spanish version, or people can go directly to the Spanish version at https://offeratory.dioceseofnashville.com/donar.

People can also go to their parish website to set up online giving if the parish offers that option.

 “It’s a convenient way to give,” Linville said of online giving. It’s helpful when people can’t drop their contribution into the collection basket because they are out of town or can’t get to Sunday Mass as they normally would, he said.

“It’s easier to keep up throughout the year with what you gave” with online giving, Linville added.

“Research shows more people are going online to pay bills, and to give online,” he said.

Online giving has helped churches in the diocese to maintain some financial stability during the pandemic. “I’m not sure anybody is at 100 percent of what they usually receive, but I’ve heard from a lot of pastors that giving is fairly strong,” Linville said. “I’ve heard from a lot of parishes that are grateful.”

At some of the smaller churches or those in more rural areas, parishioners are mailing their checks to the parish office, Linville said. “That’s an option too.”

During the pandemic, the diocese’s focus has been on helping churches remain financially stable and the Bishop’s Annual Appeal for Ministries has moved to the back burner, Linville said.

“Right now, we’re 100 percent focused on making sure the parish offertory is in good shape,” Linville said. “When it’s appropriate, we’ll pick up our efforts for the Appeal. The needs and ministries it supports are still there. It’s something that will continue.”

The Bishop’s Annual Appeal supports a wide variety of ministries that are active at the diocesan and parish level, including youth ministry, adult faith formation, Catholic schools, seminarian education and Catholic Charities.

Currently, pledges and donations to the Appeal total about 45 percent of this year’s goal of $3 million, Linville said.

He is hopeful that the economy and the stock market, which were both hurt by the pandemic, will recover enough for the Appeal to reach its goal. 

“The studies I’ve looked at, in other financial crises, charitable giving didn’t drop nearly as much as the stock market did,” Linville said. “People still want to support the things that are important to them.”

For more information about online giving or supporting diocesan parishes and ministries, contact Linville at Ashley.linville@dioceseofnashville.com.