What Catholic parishes need is an event/ministry registration and payment system

What Catholic parishes need is an event/ministry registration and payment system

  • Yep, you’re totally right. Just had a meeting at our parish about this. One of the things we’re running into is that a lot of events, particularly retreats, require medical information as part of the registration process. We are looking at using Gravity Forms (on a WordPress site) tied to a payment process through OSV’s online giving processor, since it sounded like that would be easiest for account reconciliation. A full solution would need to address storage of personal information, etc.

    But then, as you mentioned, there are events like parish dinners that in no way require a full-fledged data storage setup. I personally think that PayPal, although a pain in many ways, does make the “take payments via smartphone” thing pretty easy now that they have the PayPal Here credit card processor that plugs into your phone. We’ve used that for little league concessions and other “on-the-go” stuff.

    • Yep, we’re going to be looking at the different smartphone payment apps with the credit card swipe and see if one works for us. If we do cobble together a system it might be nice to have a kind of point-of-sale system with ipads in the parishes and school offices. (I’ll be working as communications and technology director in a collaborative of 3 parishes with a school.) And then people with proper training and accounting controls could use them in other locations too.

      Of course, that means I will need to get wireless everywhere…

  • I should clarify that we are NOT using online forms for the medical info part of the registration process, since then we run up against HIPAA regulations.

  • Domenico, ask and you shall receive! I’m one of the co-founders of Growing the Faith, and we are building exactly what you asked for: a simple, beautiful system to manage all the day-to-day logistics of parish life. Our system, OneParish, currently handles the parish directory (change your picture more often than every 5 years!), finding Mass/confession/adoration all over the country by location, Relevant Radio streaming, and the Pope’s Twitter feed, among other solid Catholic content. Pastor messaging to their entire flock is on it’s way as well.

    By this time next month, we will have baked-in mobile donations, with the complete calendar and ministry management system rolled by early Fall. Imagine being able to set up an event, let everyone find out about it easily, have them pay for the event on the spot, and get reminded when it occurs. Our goal is to take all the hassle and pain points out of parish life, so we can focus everything on what matters: the fundamental encounter with Christ and His Church.

    Check us out at http://www.oneparish.com


    • Thanks Ryan, I will check that out. I should say that I’m wary of solutions that try to do too much, that become jacks of all trades and masters of none. I’d rather see a perfect registration and payment system than a mediocre one that’s part of a larger suite of features. I’m not saying that’s what you’ve got as I haven’t looked at your software yet, but just stating a principle. Thanks again.

    • Hi Ryan,

      As I start to deal with this myself in my new job the key will be back end administration. Any solution would have to include database management of families and children, tuition tracking, sacrament tracking and more.

      • Domenico,

        We are building out all the features you mentioned by the end of this year. We already have family database management, and we are adding tuition and sacrament tracking along with many other components.

        I’m also wary of all-in-one solutions, as they have a tendency to do a lot of things so-so instead of a few things really well. The trade-off is that a system with several components can leverage a single sign-on, your previously created data, etc.

        We are striking a balance by use a Google-like model and building one component at a time – donations, calendars, ministry management – and treating each one with extra time and care. We don’t move on to a new component until the previous one ‘sings’ 🙂

  • Domenico,

    I am happy to tell you this solution already exists. My company, Liturgical Publications (LPi), is most definitely a “Catholic” focused company. Our primary business is printing bulletins for roughly 4,200 Catholic Parishes.

    Our online giving tool, WeShare, is used by over 600 Catholic Parishes and not only handles standard online contributions, but also easily handles events. We have an easy to use form builder. It is a very visual user experience and handles your iOS with ease.

    Frankly the only issue we’ve run across with our registration forms for things like religious education is the complexity some parishes would like. We’re working hard to improve that experience. I’d recommend you check it out. We built WeShare so we have the ability to improve and enhance the experience and that is exactly what we’re doing.

    Not on topic, but for any church looking at online giving…make sure you do your homework and understand the “Merchant of Record” issue. Too often a church will take on needless risk and exposure by becoming the Merchant of Record. We remove all the risk and exposure for the church so you can sleep at night.

    • Mike,

      Sounds interesting. I will sign up for one of your webinars to check it out.

  • […] What’s more, the systems that are out there for the parish staff are often a difficult mishmash of 90′s technology stitched to the web. One of the reasons we started Growing the Faith is that we spoke to parish after parish and asked, “Hasn’t someone already done this?  Isn’t there a single, cohesive system built to connect everyone in the parish and keep things humming?”  The answer we kept hearing was: Not even close – the stuff out there stinks! […]