Online giving pilot now live
This year, the PGS team has made exciting strides in developing our online giving service that will enable donors to set up regular giving via our website www.parishgiving.org.uk. On 4 December, we launched a pilot of the online service working closely with five dioceses; Hereford, Leeds, Liverpool, Oxford and St Edmundsbury & Ipswich.
Each piloting diocese has invited a number of their registered parishes to introduce donors to the new online method for regular giving. Running until March 2021, the purpose of the pilot is to manage the introduction of this new service in smaller numbers and learn from the experiences of those involved, so that the PGS can make any improvements and adjustments before actively communicating the availability of the online method to all 3,200 registered parishes, across all 30 member dioceses.
By February, we will be providing all our member dioceses with guidance and communication materials for their registered parishes, so that they can prepare to introduce the online services to all donors.
While the pilot is focused on the new functionality for donors using the website, there are also some enhanced services for parishes. All our PGS Statement Receivers - regardless of whether their parish is participating in the pilot - will already be experiencing these improvements. Every parish has its own ‘landing page’ and Statement Receivers will be able to add and update an introductory paragraph.
Although this is a very exciting development, we are asking that all dioceses and parishes not involved in the pilot, currently refrain from promoting the online service to new donors. This is just so that the PGS team can learn from the pilot and ensure a smooth roll out to everyone in the Spring.
The PGS experienced a significant level of growth over the summer, despite the enormous challenges under which parishes and Dioceses are currently operating.
In August, we reached a milestone of 3,000 churches/parishes actively receiving funds through PGS. In September, we processed just over 52,000 regular gifts, with a total value of £4,874m (including Gift Aid) remitted to parishes – an increase of 8% since March 2020.
The telephone giving service has also continued to prove immensely popular. Since its inception, we have processed over 2,300 regular gifts through the service – averaging +500 calls per month. In fact, 1 in every 2 regular gifts to parishes is now set up through this service.
The PGS office remains open for business and we are operating with a reduced staffing presence (based on a rota), in order to comply with government guidelines on social distancing. We are continuing to receive and process new paper gift forms and to handle administrative queries from donors and parishes in the usual way; however, there may be occasional delays in our response times, due to the revised working arrangements.
We do appreciate your patience and support at this time.
The PGS continues to grow across the Church of England, with 30 member dioceses now registered with the Scheme. We extend a warm welcome in particular to those parishes joining us from our newest member dioceses: Leeds, York and Southwark.
Sammi Tooze, Generous Giving Adviser for the Diocese of York, says:
“We are so pleased to be launching PGS in the Diocese of York – we are discovering new and creative ways of engaging with regular givers in our churches during the impacts of COVID-19, and are finding a really positive energy for utilising the benefits PGS brings. As a diocese very new to PGS, we are looking forward to joining in more fully with the PGS family, and to seeing the fruitful impacts across our churches.”
This month, we processed just over 49,000 regular gifts to parishes through the PGS, with c. 55% of donors opting to increase their giving annually in line with inflation. We forwarded over £3.8 million in gifts alone to 2,884 parishes, with an additional £900,000 in Gift Aid reclaimed from HMRC.
Update on the telephone giving service
In April, we were delighted to announce the launch of our new telephone service – designed to enable prospective donors to set up a regular Direct Debit gift to their parish over the phone.
The service has certainly proved popular – with over 700 donors signing up during the first month!
Praise for the new service:
“I found signing up for Parish Giving Scheme over the phone to be extremely easy and efficient. The call lasted ten minutes and the call handler was very polite. I would recommend this to anyone considering signing up to PGS.”
Annie Stanford, Treasurer, Holy Trinity Old Hill
“Signing up to the PGS by phone could not have been easier. It was quicker than filling out forms and, during the CoVid-19 lockdown, means my church still gets my regular gift.”
“I found the ease of using the new telephone service very satisfactory. The whole process was efficient and only took 15 minutes. The staff were very helpful and I would thoroughly recommend this service.”
Dr Simon Thorp, Eastbourne St Saviour