So says W. Brian Walsh
, parishioner of Blessed Sacrament Parish
in Alexandria and president of Faith Direct
, an Alexandria-based company that provides a full-service automated payment program specifically designed for monetary collections in Catholic churches.
Through Faith Direct
, parishioners can automatically deduct their offertory contributions from their checking or savings accounts (or charge them to a credit card) in one lump sum at the beginning of each month, similar to automated mortgage, car or insurance payments.
Five parishes in the Arlington Diocese
currently use Faith Direct
- some others have their own methods of electronic giving - and Walsh hopes only to expand that number.
As of press time, approximately 25 more diocesan parishes had registered for one of two Faith Direct information luncheons held Tuesday and Wednesday at St. Timothy Church
in Chantilly and Blessed Sacrament
, respectively - the first two parishes in the diocese to implement the program.
Both churches have used Faith Direct
for a year and a half, with St. Theresa Parish
in Ashburn joining in December, St. Patrick Parish
in Fredericksburg in March and St. James Parish
in Falls Church in April.
Walsh, co-founder of Warfield and Walsh, a direct mail fund-raising company, said that for years he and his wife struggled to get themselves and their small children to Mass on time, and, as a result, often forgot to bring their offertory envelope.
After finding no electronic giving remedy that specifically helped Catholic churches, Faith Direct
"I frankly didn't need to start another company," Walsh
"I want to work in the Catholic Church because I want to make a difference.
I'd rather be known in 10 years as Faith Direct
being the company that changed the way people gave.
More than anything else, that to me would be an accomplishment."
Seventeen parishes in the neighboring Archdiocese of Washington use Faith Direct
- the largest number in any diocese in the country - and dioceses in Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island also participate.
"While we certainly did not invent electronic giving for parishes, we're considered one of the leaders in the country because our approach is much different - it's full service," Walsh
"It's up to Faith Direct
to run the entire process."
That means Faith Direct accesses accounts and handles marketing, mailings, customer service and databases - all the details it takes to bring parish collections into an electronically driven society.
"It's not just for offertory, it's for any second collection that's mandated by the diocese, plus any unique gifts," Walsh
Only 30 percent of the parish community consistently supports their parish, Walsh
"We have, in this diocese, been able to demonstrate that we are converting (to electronic giving) 25 percent of those donors in year one, which is significant," he
said, adding that the 26 percent conversion at St. Patrick is a primary example.
"Basically a quarter of the donating population is gravitating toward electronic giving.
We're seeing, on average, an additional 10 gifts a year in the offertory.