How the Archdiocese of Newark Took Church Online During COVID-19

A photo of RCAN's GoFundMe Charity campaign

The COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly reshaped our world and forced businesses, nonprofits, and faith communities to adopt new ways of serving others. Church donations have plunged due to the coronavirus, which is specifically paramount because a third of all churches have no savings. Without donations, churches cannot survive.

The Archdiocese of Newark (RCAN)  is one faith community that felt the impact of the coronavirus early on. However, they quickly pivoted to find creative ways to unify congregants and encourage the critical tithing that’s needed for their survival. 

RCAN sponsors 212 parishes in the greater Newark area, and supports thousands of parishioners. As faith communities across the world have indefinitely postponed their celebrations of mass, all of RCAN’s parishes did as well. Without being able to hold a public mass to bring in donations, RCAN found a creative approach and utilized online fundraising and online church services to its advantage. Below, we outline exactly how RCAN  has taken church online and seamlessly unified its parishes.

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A summary of RCAN’s successes

In response to the global pandemic, the RCAN utilized GoFundMe Charity to develop a solution: its first-ever Parish Support Initiative. Using GoFundMe Charity,  the RCAN created a fundraiser for every parish, so that each parish could raise money for its own needs while keeping their archdiocese community connected and engaged. Churches that accept tithing online increase overall donations by 32%, and RCAN has seen a dramatic response since taking their services online and helping their parishes remain strong: 

  • Over $600,000 raised for RCAN parishes 
  • $79,000 raised for the Parishes in Need Fund, which will be used to support those communities struggling to pay their employees, conduct outreach, and cover church utility bills through this crisis
  • Over $16,000 raised for meals through the Student Support Fund 
  • Over 4,700 donations

Here’s how RCAN overcame coronavirus-related problems

Below are a few of the main issues that RCAN ran into and a break down of how those issues were solved.

1. They responded quickly and effectively to their community

With over 200 parishes, it was not time-efficient to create individual fundraising campaigns for each parish. Not only would this take a lot of time, but it would also be an organizational challenge to have 200 different fundraising campaigns, each with different branding. 

To connect all parishes and create a single coordinated response, RCAN decided to leverage GoFundMe Charity’s fundraiser page defaults to copy core elements of the RCAN’s parent fundraiser onto hundreds of individual parish fundraisers. This allowed RCAN to set up over 100 parishes in the first few days, retain unified design themes, and still enable each parish to tailor its fundraiser to fit its own community and voice. 

GoFundMe Charity team page feature

2. They took church virtual and created a place for online giving

From the start, RCAN wanted to provide their communities with the ability to watch mass and the opportunity to contribute and share their parishes’ fundraisers with their friends and families. RCAN embedded a YouTube live stream of mass directly onto their central hub so parishioners could easily engage in the digital church services. 

GoFundMe Charity’s social amplification tools also enabled any viewer of the livestream to donate and then share the fundraiser and livestream on a variety of social media platforms, email, and text message. On the Sunday after launch, over 1,000 people viewed the RCAN main livestream of mass. And within the first week, donations exceeded $100,000.

3. They put resources toward what matters

In these uncertain times, expensive subscription fees or contracts can pull precious financial resources away from a church’s primary mission. Contributions raised through each parish’s GoFundMe page needed to benefit each individual parish’s unique needs, not be used up by platform or contract fees. With no subscription fees or contract negotiations to slow down their launch, RCAN was able to launch its fundraising campaign the same week they transitioned to virtual church events.

Take church services and tithing online

RCAN’s quick response and subscription-free parish support initiative made a tremendous impact for the parishes of Newark and the people they serve. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Parish Support Initiative has helped parishes continue to conduct outreach to those most in need and cover critical costs. Is your community asking how to take church virtual with online fundraising made easy? Get started today by claiming your charity. 

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