Resources to Help Congregations During the COVID-19 Situation

Stewardship & Planned Giving Information and Resources

Giving is an act of worship. When people cannot attend church, how can they continue to support their congregation? This is a good question even withstanding the current situation. In a time of social distancing, online and recurring giving provide people with many ways to give to your church.

Pre-Authorized Remittance (PAR)

Pre-Authorized Remittance (PAR) enables people to give through an automatic monthly withdrawal from their bank account or credit card.

Important Information for New PAR Applicants:

Congregations already on PAR can easily update the amount of their gift by contacting your congregation’s PAR coordinator or the national PAR administrator . Just remember to include the name, city, and province of your congregation or your PAR number. You can get your PAR number from your local PAR coordinator.

New PAR donors are asked to fill out the PAR authorization form indicating how much they want to give to their community of faith and how much they would like to donate to people in need and programs that matter through Presbyterians Sharing and PWS&D. Normally, in the application process, they would hand the completed authorization form, along with a voided cheque or credit card information, to the local PAR coordinator, who would then mail the information to the PAR administrator at the General Council Office.

However, with United Church of Canada staff working from home, please do not mail them to the address on the PAR form. Instead, mail them to the PAR administrator using this special address:

PAR Administrator
The United Church of Canada
8 Switzer St.
New Lowell, ON L0M 1N0
Fax: 416-232-6003

Please do not lick the envelope, but seal it with a wet sponge.

There is also an option available to forward the form and void cheque by fax. Staff have secure remote access to the fax so forms can be processed in a timely manner.

Please take all necessary security precautions with personal banking information. Do not send scanned or photographed images by e-mail because e-mail is not secure and there is sensitive financial information on the form.

Congregations are encouraged to provide as much help as possible to new PAR donors to make the sign-up process easy. Please remember to thank new PAR donors for the commitment they are making to your congregation’s ministries and mission.

Interac e-Transfer®

If you’ve ever had to email money from your bank account to someone, you know how fast Interac e-Transfers work. E-Transfers allow you to send money to a person or business with an email address or mobile number and a bank account at a participating Canadian financial institution.

If your church has an email address that will accept e-Transfers, people who use online banking can quickly send money via email, protected by a security question. Your church can then follow up with you to provide the answer to the security question that will unlock the funds. Fees are usually about $1.50 per transaction.

Make sure your church website provides an easy and accessible way for people to donate online. If you do not yet have a donate button on the home page of your website, now is the time to add one. If you are holding virtual services over the coming weeks, participants can give online during a time of offering. Check out our digital giving resources to help you and your congregation assess and adopt useful digital giving methods and tools.

The information below provides detailed information about CanadaHelps.org and Tithe.ly, two online giving tools, as well as a comparison of the different ways of giving.

Tithe.ly Donation Forms

Tithe.ly is a comprehensive giving platform tailor-made for churches and ministries. Tithe.ly provides churches with a suite of tools to facilitate online giving. Simply put, Tithe.ly makes it easy to provide a donation form on your church’s website. A programmed “donate” button opens a secure, easy-to-understand donation form, either on your church’s website or on the Tithe.ly website. Tithe.ly accepts donations from credit cards (and debit cards that have either the VISA debit or Debit Mastercard symbol). There is no monthly fee and the cost per transaction is competitive. To ensure that your church receives special PCC rates, Tithe.ly has created a PCC registration page: tithe.ly/rp/pcic/register

CanadaHelps.org Donation Forms

CanadaHelps.org is a highly respected and secure charitable foundation that enables donations to charities across Canada. If your church’s website does not already have a “donate” button, donors can still give to your church online by searching for your church on CanadaHelps.org. Every registered charity in Canada is listed on the site. Having found your church,* donors can donate using a credit card (or a debit card with a VISA debit or Debit Mastercard logo). CanadaHelps.org will provide the donor with a tax receipt and send the donation to your church within a month.

It is a good idea for Canadian churches to claim their fundraising account on CanadaHelps.org as the foundation reduces its fee and transfers donated funds more quickly for charities that sign up. Once your church claims their profile on CanadaHelps.org, a button can then be inserted on the church website that points to a customized CanadaHelps.org donation form
(though not if you’ve decided to use Tithe.ly).

* Sometimes a donor may find it difficult to search CanadaHelps.org by name, since churches in different cities share the same name.  However, if the first search fails, a donor can search by other criteria, including location.

Which is better, Tithe.ly or CanadaHelps.org?

Since CanadaHelps.org is a foundation, it is CanadaHelps.org that issues the tax receipt. The church merely receives the funds and, unless the church claims its account with CanadaHelps.org, the church is not even informed as to who gave the funds. On the tax receipt, the donor is considered a donor of CanadaHelps.org. This is usually not a problem for smaller churches that are happy that the tax receipting responsibilities have been delegated to CanadaHelps.org. However, your church may prefer to use Tithe.ly for the “donate” button on your church website as the donor remains your church’s donor and your church provides the tax credit receipt.

Does my website need to have special security to use donation forms?

Most church websites do not have SSL protection. Without this extra level of security, you cannot embed donation forms directly onto your church website because the forms would not be secure. To overcome this limitation, the “donate” button can be linked to a form hosted on Tithe.ly or CanadaHelps.org. If your website does not have SSL protection, when someone clicks on your church’s “donate” button, they will be taken to your church’s form in a new secure tab/window. When the donor submits the form, that window can return the donor to your church website; so it is a good idea to create a “thank you” page on your website.

What will my church need to get started for online donations?

Here are the things needed to set-up Tithe.ly:

  • Legal business name
  • Charitable number (business number)
  • Bank routing information for depositing gifts received (transit number, institution number, account number)
  • Digital scan (.jgp) of the driver’s license or passport of one of the officers of the church (this is an anti-fraud measure implemented by Tithe.ly to ensure that a real person associated with your church has authorized the account)
  • The URL and Username/Password for your church website in case you need to contact Jim MacDonald, Development Manager of Stewardship & Planned Giving, to add the button linking to the Tithe.ly form

Can I get help setting this up?

Whether you select CanadaHelps.org or Tithe.ly for the donation forms on your church website, Jim MacDonald, the Development Manager in the Stewardship & Planned Giving Department, can help you set-up your account(s) and your donation form(s). Jim will either embed the form on your secure website or program a button on your website that points to your church’s donation form on Tithe.ly or CanadaHelps.org.

You are welcome to contact Jim MacDonald for consultation and assistance setting-up donation forms on your church’s website. Through screenshare, Jim can walk you through the entire process as you set it up together.

Contact Jim MacDonald

Encourage giving to community members most affected

Some of our most vulnerable neighbours will experience loss of wages and other unexpected implications at this time. People will want to respond, and your congregation might think about how they can support vulnerable people in the community and/or partner with organizations that are providing help. Consider starting a fund to help your congregation respond.

Pray and stay connected

As we make our way through the difficult days ahead, let us remember that we are not alone. Let us pray for one another. Reach out to one another by phone, email or video chat in case anyone might be feeling afraid or lonely. Offer to pick up groceries, prescriptions or run errands for people who are in isolation. And remember that we are a community of faith.

May the peace of Christ be with you all.

We have gathered together articles from ecumenical stewardship partners in Canada and the USA. Now, more than ever, it is important to maintain connections and share stories and resources with one another. We hope you find these stewardship resources useful in providing guidance on maintaining connections and facilitating generosity within your faith community in these challenging times.

Now is the Time for Faithful Generosity – A Special Edition Newsletter by the Ecumenical Stewardship Center

Stewardship in a Pandemic – Presbyterian Foundation

Stewardship in Trying Times – Disciples of Christ

Online Giving Recommendations for Livestream and Video Worship – Presbyterian Foundation

COVID-19: Financial Guidance for Churches – Stewardship Services (UKET)

How Pastors Should Talk About Giving in the Current Crisis – ChurchLeaders.com

Financial Giving During COVID-19 – Anglican Diocese of Niagara

Sample Letter for Treasurers – Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada
Congregations and treasurers can customize this letter and use it to inform their members in the event of church closures.

Webinars: Managing Financial Impact on Churches

These are webinars for anyone looking for wise ways to manage the financial impact the pandemic is having on congregations.

Congregational Finances During the Pandemic for Ministers
Presented by The United Church of Canada

Congregational Finances During the Pandemic for Treasurers
Presented by The United Church of Canada

Stewardship in a Time of Crisis
Presented by the Center for Faith and Giving

Financial Resources for Congregations and Employees

Below are resources prepared by the PCC to provide congregations with information on the policies and procedures to consult in the event of church closures due to COVID-19. The following resources also outline support options that have been made available to aid congregations and employees.

Support Resources from the PCC Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

Stress and anxiety are entirely normal reactions to the many changes and restrictions we are now faced with. The following articles, provided by the PCC’s EAP, ComPsych GuidanceResources, offer ideas and coping techniques to help you and those close to you through these difficult times.

None of us can escape the stress of daily living, but we can learn to manage it better and become better stress managers.

Try the following tips to protect your physical and mental health from the strain of stress:

  • Try some deep breathing. Take a slow deep breath—hold it for five seconds—then slowly exhale.
  • Learn and practice meditation. Create peaceful mental images.
  • Take a mental health break. Make some time each day to devote to yourself—sometimes even 10 to 30 minutes really can help.
  • Strive for balance in your life. Make time for activities you enjoy.
  • Use your support system. Share your feelings with a caring friend or family member.
  • Just say no. Remember that it’s OK to say no to requests that push you beyond your limits.
  • Take one thing at a time. Focus on the task at hand and do it well.
  • Don’t demand perfection. Ease up on yourself and those around you.
  • Take care of yourself. Be sure to exercise regularly, eat a well-balanced diet and get enough rest.
  • Plan ahead. Factor in time for traffic or other delays so that you’re more relaxed when you get to work or to your appointments.
  • Develop a positive attitude. Try to view negative situations in a positive way.
  • Remove the clutter in your life. Clean your house, garage or workspace regularly.
  • Laughter is the best medicine. Find what makes you laugh. When you’re laughing, you don’t have time to be stressed out. And, don’t take yourself too seriously.
  • Curb Caffeine. Stimulants such as tobacco and caffeine can rev up your nervous system, which increases stress.
  • Seek help. At times, you may feel that your stress is difficult to cope with or is interfering with your daily life. If the stress in your life becomes overwhelming, don’t hesitate to seek professional help from your EAP.
Image of arrow pointing downTips to Relax and Reduce Stress

You may also find helpful…

COVID-19 Anxiety & Stress Management Resources – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Image of arrow pointing downSupporting Good Mental Health – Reflections by the Church of England
To feel your best, it is important to take care of yourself, especially when your job demands so much from you emotionally. Maintaining emotional resilience requires eating well, exercising, keeping work and home life balanced and maintaining good relationships. But there are times when even these things can’t prevent stress and anxiety from creeping in. That’s why self-care is so important. Taking a small amount of time out of your busy schedule just for yourself is key to handling all your duties while getting the most out of life. Try these tips to give yourself the attention you need to be your best.

Deep Breathing. Deep breathing focuses on using the diaphragm (the spot just under your rib cage) to draw slow, deep breaths into the lungs and to release them slowly. Take a couple of minutes every hour to practice some deep breathing.

Stretching. Stretching exercises can relieve tension, make your body more flexible and produce a calming effect. Even just shrugging your shoulders, stretching your arms and rolling your neck a few times a day can have positive effects.

Meditation and Visualization. Meditation involves “quieting the mind” by blocking out sensory input and distraction, while visualization involves using the brain’s creative capacity to create a stress-free experience, much like daydreaming. Try to carve out 15 minutes daily to quiet you mind and body.

Muscle Relaxation. Progressive muscle-relaxation techniques involve systematically tensing, relaxing and visualizing each major muscle group. It is best to practice these techniques when you have about 20 minutes and are able to find a quiet place where you can lie down without being disturbed.

Calming Thoughts. Our thought patterns often cause or contribute to the stress that we are feeling. The next time you encounter a stressful situation, take a moment to tune into your thoughts and feelings. Write these thoughts down and then write down a more positive replacement.

Image of arrow pointing downCreating a Self-Care Plan

You may also find helpful…

A Care Package for Uncertain Times – The On Being Project

Christian Education Resources for Families to Use During School Closures

With families at home together over the coming weeks, it is a perfect opportunity to engage in faith formation activities. There are several resources available online for families. Here are a few that you might want to check out:

Illustrated Children’s Ministry

Illustrated Children’s Ministry is putting together free, weekly resources that individual church members and families can sign up for and have delivered to them weekly. By signing up, you will receive free faith formation activities for all ages once a week.

Faith@Home

Faith@Home is providing a resource each day that includes something for families to watch, to listen to, to do and to pray about. Also, once a week, they’ll also provide a “go deeper” resource that will help parents engage their kids in theological conversation concerning illness, crisis, anxiety, death.

Resources on How to Talk to Children about COVID-19

The following resources provide information and advice on helping children and teens cope with any anxiety they may feel about the present situation:

Family Faith Formation Toolkit – Christian Reformed Church (CRC)

The CRC’s Faith Formation Toolkit contains theory, tools and helpful ideas about how to engage in faith formation at home.

Family Devotional: Pandemic Hope – Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, Illinois

This is a family devotional for life during COVID-19. It contains scripture readings & activities for the next 8 weeks that are focused on deepening faith, connecting with each other and God, and practicing love in uncertain times.

Walk This Way

Walk This Way is a Presbyterian Church in Canada Lenten resource for families that will guide children through the season and participate in the transformative work of the Spirit. For each week there is a recommended picture book, accompanied by a brief written reflection and questions for wondering. Written by Laura Alary, Walk This Way is a colourful, interactive resource, suitable for many age groups.

Available for free download here

God’s Big Easter Story – Christian Reformed Church

Prepare for Holy Week storytelling with children and students with God’s Big Easter Story: A Holy Week Journey for Families, a free resource from the Christian Reformed Church that provides your family with a simple, meaningful way to grow in faith together, remembering the events leading up to Jesus’ death and celebrating Jesus’ resurrection.

Holy “SPIRIT” Holy “WEEK” (Virtual Holy Week for Churches)

Organized by Ministries Across Generations , Virtual Holy Week for Churches has a variety of fun and engaging virtual activities planned over Holy Week and Easter that the entire family can participate in.

Bible App for Kids

The Bible App for Kids is a free app for Android, Apple and Kindle devices, available in over 50 languages. The app introduces children to 41 of the “big” Bible stories and helps them understand the overall story that the Bible is telling. Throughout each story, fun, interactive animations keep children engaged and select stories even include games designed to help them learn, understand and retain important Bible story concepts.

5 Ways to Retell a Bible Story with Kids

A few great ideas about how to get children engaging with scripture by using their minds, hearts and hands.

Use LEGO to Tell Bible Stories

If the kids in your family like LEGO, why not do a Bible-based LEGO activity? There are also several free resources for teaching scripture using LEGO that you can access online through a simple Google search.

You can also find Christian LEGO activities is Emily Slichter Given’s book Building Faith Brick by Brick; there are two volumes of this book, which cost approximately $25 each.

More Online Resources and Activities for Kids and Parents

In addition to faith-based resources and activities for kids, we have also compiled a list of fun and educational online activities for children of all ages. From audiobooks to virtual zoo tours, these online activities are sure to entertain and educate kids (and even parents) during this long stretch of being at home.

Audible Stories

Stories entertain, teach and keep young minds active, alert and engaged. Audible is offering an incredible collection of stories, including titles across six different languages, that will help kids continue dreaming, learning and just being kids. All stories are free to stream on your desktop, laptop, phone or tablet.

Storyline Online

Storyline Online is a free literacy program where actors read to children.

Joy and Playthrough Books

Read-alongs, sing-alongs, illustrating demos and more – provided by the Growing Book by Book Community.

Free Online Activities for Kids at Home

Common Sense Media has compiled an excellent list of resources and activities , including audiobooks and virtual story times, music classes and performances, educational activities and lesson plans, virtual tours, fun and games, and more.

Scholastic Free Online Courses for Grade Schoolers

Scholastic has launched a Learn at Home website that has daily courses for students from pre-kindergarten to grades six and higher. Scholastic’s learning plans cover all the subjects your student would be taking at school.

Indigenous Educators in Canada Teach Online

In light of the current situation regarding school closures, educators across Turtle Island have come together to provide online learning opportunities for our children K-8 through the Think Indigenous initiative.

150+ Educational Netflix Shows

The number of educational shows on Netflix is growing every day, which is ideal for kids who learn best visually. This is a list – compiled by Homeschool Hideout – of educational shows on Netflix – watch documentaries, learn about animals, earth and nature, space, history and more.

COVID-19 Camp: Free Resources to Educate and Entertain Your Kids

Ever Clever Mom offers a list of online resources that that are currently being offered for free by companies that have stepped up to offer everyone access to their programs. Also included are resources that are always free, and some ideas for when your family needs some time offline.

Education Companies Offering Free Resources

This is a super helpful list of websites – compiled by the Kids Activities blog – for education companies that will allow you to sign-up for their learning programs for free to help kids move forward with their education from home.

Virtual Tours

A list of 22 ways to leave home without actually leaving the couch – from virtual zoo exhibits to museum gallery tours.

Spend a Virtual Day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Have you ever wanted to ride every ride and see every show at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in one day without waiting in line? Well now is your chance!

Cincinnati Zoo At-Home Safaris via Facebook Live

The Cincinnati Zoo is offering daily home safaris until April 11. You can also watch “The Fiona Show” about Fiona the baby hippo.

Five Virtual Field Trips in Canada

Go on a field trip without leaving your house! Visit the Parliament buildings, Iqaluit, The Canadian Museum of History, The Royal Tyrell Musuem, or go on a farm tour.

Virtual Farm Tours

Visit a dairy farm without leaving home.

Daily Doodling with Mo Willems!

Mo Willems invites you into his studio every day for lunchtime doodles. Learners worldwide can draw, doodle and explore new ways of writing by visiting Mo’s studio virtually once a day for the next few weeks. New episodes will be posted each weekday at 1:00 p.m. (Eastern) and then remain online to be streamed afterwards.

Online Art Classes for Kids

Check out The Kitchen Table Classroom for a collection of online art classes you can enjoy with your kids.

Fun Apps for Kids

The OMazing Kids Facebook page has a list of apps for kids that developers are offering for free. (Some for a limited time)