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Evergive: Tithing technology with a community-building bonus

May 15, 2015
Christina Gray

The Archdiocese of San Francisco is banking on a Silicon Valley startup called Evergive to make fundraising quick, easy and rewarding with a free, faith-based computer app being officially launched to the archdiocesan community May 15.

Evergive is just “one more way” faith communities can give to the church, including writing a check, donating online and using the collection basket, Basilian Father Anthony Giampietro, the archdiocese’s interim director of development, told Catholic San Francisco.

The Palo Alto-based Evergive is targeting a new generation of Catholics who occupy digital communities and use their smartphones or computers for social and financial transactions.

“We know many of our young parishioners don’t even have a checkbook anymore,” he said.

According to Father Giampietro, Evergive’s developers created the technology to help mission-driven communities, such as churches and other nonprofits, form trusted digital communities for inspiration, communication and, given its name, fundraising.

“A hundred years ago, a church was the central hub of a community,” said Evergive chief executive officer and co-founder James Ioannidis. “Now they’re engulfed in this digital realm. There needs to be a new platform that supports these things. We want to bring the parish experience to the smartphone.”

Mary Minno, Evergive’s vice president for partnerships, said that while “we have a lot of pastors who say college students love this,” Evergive attracts a broad demographic. “Our average user is a 50-year-old woman,” she said.

The free Evergive app, which can be downloaded to any smartphone or accessed online, offers users a digest of daily inspiration and information, including daily Mass readings and prayers, communications from the archbishop, Pope Francis’ Twitter feed, headlines from Catholic San Francisco and, naturally, fundraising appeals.

Father Giampietro and development coordinator Florian Romero are, for now, the archdiocese’s Evergive administrators, feeding the content and campaigns that will be seen by Evergive users. Ultimately the Communications Department will manage Evergive, said Father Giampietro.

Users will be able to ask for prayers or offer them, said Father Giampietro. “You could use Evergive and never go to the donate button if you didn’t want to,” he said.

Think of Facebook, but in a focused, faith-based community without advertising, cat videos or selfies.

“Instead of being centered on yourself, like Facebook is, Evergive is centered on the church,” Ioannidis said. “With Facebook, you have everything coming at you; if you’re on Evergive, it’s only your faith community.”

Pastors can create sub-communities for their parishes and youth groups on Evergive and schools can create a private space for parents to interact with one another and share news.

Father Giampietro said that several parishes in the San Jose diocese are using Evergive with success, with one pastor posting his homilies and receiving feedback from his congregation on the app.

One part of Father Giampietro’s decision to introduce Evergive to the archdiocese as a fundraising tool, aside from its success in other parishes, is the fact that there is no investment or usage cost to the archdiocese, parishes or individual users, and no contract for long-term commitment.

Evergive makes its money in much the same way credit card companies do in retail sales, by charging a percentage of donations made through the app.

Father Giampietro said Evergive’s success depends on its acceptance and use by parishes, parishioners, schools and church employees. But because there is no cost to the user, he describes it as a “great opportunity for pastors and parishioners, one that can supplement and enhance everything else they are doing.”

To register for Evergive, go to http://ever.gi/archsf. For information and support contact Ron Pratte at Evergive, ron@evergive.com, (650) 273-7253.

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