Public health officials have advised that one of the best ways to stop the spread of COVID-19 and lessen the burden on our healthcare systems is to practice social distancing. We have created this toolkit to help clergy in NYC convene their congregations online.
This toolkit lists the various products (free and paid) available so your congregants can stay connected to you and donate.
This guide is organized into these sections:
To use video services, you will need:
Your congregants will need a desktop, laptop computer, or mobile device that can use the service you select. Both the computer and smartphone must be running on up-to-date operating systems and have up-to-date browsers – when you try to use the services below, the services will alert you if you do not have the minimum requirements. For more information on what you need to use to streaming services, please search for the name of the online service you will use and "minimum requirements."
If you are not connected to broadband or Wi-Fi, normal data charges will apply to your mobile plan. Streaming/Video conferencing is data-heavy, so please be mindful of your data plan and your congregants' plans.
YouTube Live is a popular service to broadcast live events. Before using YouTube Live, you will need a YouTube account. Sign up for one at YouTube (if you already have a Google account, you already have one!). Note: when you use "YouTube Live" for the first time, you will receive instructions from YouTube to verify your account, and you will need to wait 24 hours for YouTube to verify your identity.
You can also broadcast services to your Facebook News Feed using "Facebook Live." First, log into your personal Facebook account on either your desktop or mobile device. Obtain a Facebook account online or download and log into the "Facebook" app on to your iOS (iPhone or iPad) or Android device. Second, encourage your congregants to be your Facebook friend.
Instagram is also a popular service to broadcast content. You must download the "Instagram" app onto your mobile device, create an account, and log in. Learn how to broadcast using Instagram here.
Zoom is a video conferencing and webinar platform. It allows all the participants on the conference to see one another. It is free with a personal account for up to 100 participants, with a 40 minute limit per meeting. Sign up for a Zoom account and see more information on plans.
There are many tools you can use for phone and videoconferencing (Webex, Zoom, MS Teams, etc.). Below are a few tools to have small meetings with congregation leaders. They are designed for group discussions and may not be conducive to a religious service as they require more set up and technical ability.
This service allows for free conference telephone calls with up to 1,000 participants. It is not a video conferencing service. If your congregants do not have access to computers or the internet, this can be another way to broadcast your service – over the phone.
When you want to hold a phone meeting you and your participants to dial into your conference call phone number, then when prompted, dial the access code. This service can be used anytime, 24/7.
This service will let the participants see you, and you see the participants. They will be able to join by video conference at their computers. To use this service, all congregants must have or sign up for free Google accounts. There are two levels of service: Free and Paid (G Suite). Learn more about G Suite
If you do not have a Google account, sign up for one by going to Google and clicking on "Sign In" in the top right hand corner.
Free: For video conferencing up to 10 people:
Best practice: As there is usually a lot of background noise, ask all congregants to "mute" their sound by clicking on the Icon that looks like a crossed-out microphone.
Paid: This service is called "G Suite." It offers video conferencing for up to 250 participants with 1,000 viewers until July 1 2020.
In addition to the donation services connected to Facebook Live and YouTube Live, many online services allow congregants to donate funds to you or your religious organization. A few of these services include: Venmo (also available as a mobile app), Paypal (also available as a mobile app), Cashapp (also available as a mobile app), Zelle (only available as a mobile app), Tithe.ly, Planning Center, Faithlife Giving, GiveInJoy, etc.
Before you start, for most services you need a U.S. bank account and a smartphone that can send and receive text messages. Your congregants must also sign up for the same service as you to donate.
Below, as an example, we list instructions for one service. To learn how to use the other services, please visit their websites.
Please note that receiving mobile payments is free. Sending money is also free if you're using your Venmo balance, a linked bank account, or a debit card from one of about 30 major banks. Otherwise, there's a 3% fee if you use a credit card or other debit card.
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