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Conducting a Parish Census this Fall

Conducting a Parish Census this Fall

Time to update your information!

Why is it important to conduct a parish census this fall? Current information is essential for parishes to grow and strengthen engagement among their parishioners. When was the last time your parish reached out to update parishioner information? If you’re like most parishes, it’s been a long time, if ever. Sure when individuals register with a parish, they provide their address, household information, phone numbers, and email addresses, but who hasn’t had one of these changed in the last five years? Landlines existed in 90% of homes in 2004. Think about how many of your friends and family still have a landline today.

So that is why it’s important to conduct a parish census now?

There are other reasons why current parishioner information is important. Appeals and other Diocesan goals are based on these numbers. These same goals, if met, mean dollars come back to your parish from the diocese. Services and missions within the church are also based on this information. Having current information allows for the parish to identify the demographic and geographic traits of parishioners. 

An example of this is identifying the average age of your parishioners is 70. But the average age for new parishioners is 34.  Having this information allows you to look more closely at who they are and where they live. Tools like MissionInsite help dioceses and parishes identify where to do outreach, what missions are most needed in your parish community, and additional areas that can help grow giving and your church. 

It becomes more and more evident why this information is important to your parish as you start to think about all of its parts and the available data if you had accurate census info. So what information should you capture? 

  • Current household members (And be sure to capture the following information for each as appropriate)
  • Contact info (for those over 13 years of age)
  • DOB
  • Marital Status
  • Sacraments received
  • Occupation
  • Indicate whether they are currently using Catholic online giving.
  • Skills (list skills that your parish could use for its missions or fundraising activities) ex. Design, writing, handyman, painter, bus driver (licensed), teachers, gardening, etc.
  • Volunteering interest: list the organizations and committees in your parish.

These are just some ideas but be sure you put thought into the information you’re requesting. Also, be sure you set up your forms or church management system so that the new information can be easily added. If you’re using PDS Church Office™ here is a How-To Census blog for PDS users. No one will want to re-enter this much data, and you want to make sure it is in your system correctly; otherwise, it defeats the purpose.

Carol has worked in the ACST Marketing department and managed most aspects of marketing over the last 20 years. Before ACST, she spent many years handling marketing for companies across the US including, Novell, WordPerfect, Purolator Courier,, and U.S.News&World Report. Carol is a cradle Catholic who has been active her entire life (a long time!) and has served in volunteer positions within her parish, including formation instructor, lector, code red responder, and numerous other volunteer roles.

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