Imagine a parish that’s on the rise, vibrant, and booming with engaged parishioners. St. Isidore Church in the Archdiocese of Detroit is that community. With over 3,000 families and 9,000 parishioners, it’s one of the largest parishes in the area. And here’s the exciting part—their average in-person Mass attendance is 1,400 to 1,500 with an additional 300 to 400 people joining them online.
A major initiative in the archdiocese is to move parishes from maintaining the status quo to focusing on mission, where the Church is serving Christ and helping people develop a relationship with Him. St. Isidore is using technology to make it happen.
“Part of our mission is to reach others in new and innovative ways and to connect with our parishioners,” said Matt Kush, the parish’s creative director. “The ultimate goal of any church is to stay connected outside of the one hour we have with them on Sunday. So, with technology, you can meet people where they are. You can meet them on their screens, and that’s where Pushpay has helped.”
Pushpay’s software helps Kush, and other parish leaders leveraging their digital tools, to customize the app with their own unique parish logo and look. It connects parishioners to spiritual content, video recordings of homilies, events, faith formation registrations, and the latest parish news. It’s constantly updated with fresh content to inspire parishioners and nurture their Faith.
St. Isidore Church delivers content in five ways: bulletin, website, social media, on-site screen, and the app. Kush understands that every parishioner has a preference for communication and wants to express their generosity in different ways. So, he added a church app to stay in touch with people who want to engage with the parish through their phones.
“You’re in one app, one ecosystem, and when you open the app you’re met with beautiful rich content that you can scroll through. You don’t have to leave the app,” he said. “When you have to bounce around between websites and apps there’s a certain amount of trust. To have that confidence to stay within the app helps because they see that content from their parish and then immediately act on that by supporting their church.”
Prior to Pushpay, St. Isidore used a free tool that was clunky and outdated. But they realized that free doesn’t always mean better. The transition to Pushpay was a success, and the results speak for itself. Before Pushpay, St. Isidore received less than $100,000 a year in donations. But that number skyrocketed to over half a million dollars in just a year by providing parishioners with an engaging digital experience that invites them to connect with their parish, grow in their faith, and give effortlessly—leading to a surge in generosity and engagement.
Their journey with Pushpay began in 2018 with a soft rollout to staff and leadership who were immediately inspired by the new tools. When their app and giving tools were finally introduced parish-wide, staff and volunteers teamed up to help parishioners download the app and answer questions after every Mass. They also gave away free t-shirts to get the word out, and shared videos of parishioners describing how easy it was to give through their new app.
“From that point forward, we started running and then plateaued a little—and then Covid happened. We started pitching it again those first couple of weeks, and boom, integration went way up. I think we had as many gifts online for many weeks in 2020 and 2021 as we did in-person envelopes and checks,” said Chris Kozlowski, St. Isidore’s business manager. “The system does a lot of the work.”
Pushpay has also opened doors for new donors who have never given to the archdiocese before. Kozlowski credits their livestreaming capabilities and how Pushpay easily integrates into their platform.
“Once we know that our fiscal house is in order, we can start imagining more about what we could do for Christ. What can we do in the name of Christ? We don’t have to worry about the day-to-day. For me, that’s a huge part of it. Because it’s a lot more fun to think about how we can engage more people than how we can get enough money just to keep the lights on. That’s not a fun discussion. It’s a really fun discussion to talk about how we can further engage in the Archdiocese of Detroit and move from maintenance to mission. I think we’re ahead of the game now, so it’s an absolute blessing for our community.”
No matter what situation your parish might find itself in, generosity and engagement remain essential cornerstones for any parish. If you’re looking for more ways to maximize your donors’ contributions, take a look at our ebook, Enhance Parish Giving. It’s a great resource for exploring strategies, and tips on how to increase donations. As a bonus, you’ll have access to ready-to-use templates for social media, email, announcements, and letters from the pastor. Download your free copy today.