Pepperoni Rolls: Why You Need to Process Transactions on Church Websites
Church fund development folks often ask....
What about online giving?
How can we set up text giving from a mobile phone?
Can people pledge online?
These are all important questions, and ones that every church certainly needs to consider. Facilitating digital giving isn’t just a good financial practice, but an extension of welcome and hospitality, meeting people in the way that they are most comfortable making donations. Many people don’t carry cash or a checkbook (a what?) anymore, so this all makes sense. Great!
But what about Pepperoni Rolls?
Coraopolis United Methodist Church is a small parish in former steel-town community outside of Pittsburgh. Originally nurtured by a Methodist circuit rider, the church has weathered the ups and downs of Coraopolis. Now known for its thriving music ministry, the church hosts a full choir and handbell ensemble, a children’s music program, and a vibrant concert series, featuring events like Bassoonapalooza – a concert featuring 40 bassoonists, one of the largest gathering of bassoonists ever!
About the Pepperoni Rolls
In order to provide supplemental funding for the music ministry, Music Minister Bryan Sable had an idea. He would sell homemade pepperoni rolls, a beloved regional treat, following his mother’s recipe. One roll for $8, three rolls for $20. Buying supplies at the local restaurant warehouse, he figured his costs would be low enough that he could net a couple hundred dollars. He hoped to buy some new anthems, fund the upkeep of the historic 1927 Austin Organ, and tune their 2 baby grand pianos.
Bryan announced the fundraiser on a Sunday morning during worship and had a signup sheet available during coffee hour for people to pre-order the rolls. But it was summer, and attendance was spotty. So in additional to a paper form, on the church’s website, Bryan created an online order form integrated with payment processing so people could not only pre-order but pre-pay for their pepperoni rolls. He put the link on the church’s Facebook page and in a church email blast. He promoted digital ordering in person, too. He took a tray of sample pepperoni rolls to a community street fair. People sampled one bite, whipped out their phones, brought up the churches website and ordered. And ordered. And ordered. 300 pepperoni rolls later, Bryan had made over $1400 profit, which supported not only the music ministry but contributed to the church’s general operating fund.
Certainly having a killer recipe for pepperoni rolls helped contribute to the success of this fundraiser. But what was equally essential was the ability to easily conduct the transaction online. Beyond online giving, churches can greatly benefit from being able to process basic transactions without requiring the creation of a profile or a login to a membership database. A simple one-page form to collect information and process payment is essential in encouraging people to complete transactions. Even one additional through-click to an external payment processor can diminish the completion rate of a transaction; certainly being asked to provide additional or redundant information or to create an account with a payment processor greatly reduces the likelihood the user will complete the purchase. Furthermore, it is essential that the form be easy to create and adapt, and that it be optimized for mobile devices, as a majority of transactions will be made on mobile phones.
Beyond Pepperoni Rolls
For those churches not selling pepperoni rolls, what other transactions might be offered online? One Episcopal church discovered that not only did their altar flower memorial donations increase when they offered the opportunity to donate online, but that the demographics of the people making donations shifted younger. Millennials – who weren’t likely to carry a checkbook or find the time to drop off a check and fill out a paper form during abbreviated church office hours – began ordering memorial altar flowers because they could do it from their mobile devices, any time, anywhere.
Other transactions made easier by online forms with integrated payments? The sale of concert tickets (Bassoonapaloza or otherwise), mission trip t-shirts, VBS registrations, spaghetti dinners, disaster relief contributions… the list goes on and on.
So while regular, repeat giving and pledging are important functions to facilitate in the digital space, churches can greatly benefit from offering simple, responsive transactional payment processing. It’s an opportunity to not only raise funds, but to better engage a broader demographic in the life of the church.
- Lisa Brown, Director of Digital Ministry, and Pepperoni Roll aficionado
What can we create together? Contact Membership Vision to learn more!
Our goal at Membership Vision is to help churches and other faith communities to tell their stories in the digital space. Each church, irrespective of size, has a living and active story to tell, and technology provides an opportunity to share that story in a way that is welcoming and engaging. We ease the burden of keeping communications current, by leveraging content, and harnessing the many ways that members of our communities connect with each other, both inside and outside of the church walls. We aim to remove technological hurdles and allow churches to communicate online in an effective and sustainable way. Contact us at email@example.com or call (805) 626-0143 to talk about the ways we can help your church build a digital presence.