How Catholic Parishes Can Use Technology to Connect with Snowbirds

Jim Cunneen

Managing Partner, Vice President
Strategy and Consulting

Spring brings the return of snowbirds to northern parishes, and they bring a desire to re-establish connections. In this digital age, technology offers parishes powerful tools to engage with snowbirds while they are gone, reconnect upon their return, and bolster fundraising throughout every season. In this blog, we’ll explore digital platforms and communication channels, provide tips for effective outreach through social media, email newsletters, and church websites, and show how you can bring it all together.

The Tools You Need

The landscape of fundraising has shifted dramatically. Parishes can harness digital tools to reach snowbirds, no matter where they are. Online donation platforms such as GiveCentral, Tithe.ly, and PayPal provide convenient avenues for parishioners to contribute to their home parish, even from afar. By embracing these platforms, parishes can ensure that distance does not diminish the generosity of seasonal members. Moreover, social media offers parishes a dynamic means of connection. Facebook, Instagram, Meta and X enable parishes to share updates, foster community, and inspire giving all year. Through strategic posting and engagement, parishes can cultivate a sense of belonging, encouraging members to stay connected and support their faith community.

Tips for Telling Yor Story

Regardless of which tools you use, you must wield them effectively. Here are some tips for optimizing each communication platform:

  1. Social Media: Post consistently: Regular updates keep your parish visible and engaged with followers. Share diverse content: Mix informative posts, event promotions, personal stories, and prayer intentions to keep followers interested. Foster interaction: Encourage comments, shares, and direct messages to cultivate a sense of community and connection. Don’t be afraid to ask parishioners who are active on each platform to make a habit of engaging with and sharing your posts. Time and talent are facets of stewardship!
  2. Email Newsletters: Segment your audience: Don’t just send one email a week. Tailor newsletters to specific groups, such as 20 somethings, parents, and snowbirds, to ensure relevance. Provide valuable content: Offer updates on parish activities, spiritual reflections, and opportunities for involvement, tailored to the interests of each group.Include a clear call to action: Whether it’s donating, volunteering, or attending an event, make it easy for recipients to take the next step.
  3. Your Website: Keep information current: Ensure that service schedules, contact details, and event listings are up to date to provide a seamless experience for visitors – particularly as schedules begin to shift over summer. Simplify online giving: Make it easy for snowbirds to contribute by prominently featuring donation links and providing clear instructions. Showcase community engagement: Highlight the impact of parish initiatives and the ways in which donations support the mission and ministries of the church.

What Works?

So how do you combine this technology to foster connectivity and boost fundraising? Here are a few ideas:

  1. Snowbird Stewardship: Invite seasonal parishioners to sponsor specific projects or initiatives within the parish. Examples include supporting youth retreats, funding parish renovations, or contributing to charitable outreach programs. Give sponsors recognition in parish emails and include invitations to special events so they can reconnect in person. Along with social media posts that demonstrate the tangible impact of their gifts, take the time to extend targeted, personal updates on the progress of their sponsored projects. These combined initiatives foster a sense of partnership and investment among seasonal parishioners, encouraging them to support the parish’s mission even at times of the year when they are not physically present.
  2. Summer Speaker Series:
    “Summer Speaker Series” aimed at engaging seasonal parishioners and fostering spiritual growth provides multiple opportunities to reconnect. Analyze the data on your snowbirds and then feature speakers on topics that would appeal to them and the wider parish. In addition to providing enriching content, each event should a fundraising component to support the parish’s ministries and outreach. All parishioners are invited via targeted email asks, on your website, and through social media to attend and contribute to the parish’s mission through donations or volunteer participation. Livestream the series for folks who are out of town on vacation. This will create content for your website and social channels. The events will serve as opportunities for connection, learning, and charitable giving within the parish community.

By embracing these tools and strategies, parishes can strengthen their connections with seasonal members and ensure the continued vibrancy of their faith communities.

In the weeks ahead, we’ll explore creative ways to connect, inspire, and uplift one another in faith and service. f you need help reaching snowbirds sooner, reach out to us today!