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Here’s what Glass Canvas is up to a year after the OSV Challenge

Theresa Civantos Barber - published on 05/07/21

A year after taking part in the OSV Innovation Challenge, finalists are still seeing a positive impact on their work, and benefiting the whole Church in turn.

Lack of technological and social media knowledge is a widespread problem for Catholic parishes, and Glass Canvas, a strategy and marketing agency, has created an incredible tool to help. Their product and mission got a big boost when the agency was a finalist in the OSV Challenge. A year later, let’s take a look at how the challenge impacted Glass Canvas, and what they’ve worked on since then. 

Their product, Tilma, is “a new kind of parish software that brings all your parish needs into one place: email, giving, website, people database, and events,” said Glass Canvas president J.M. Boyd in an interview with Aleteia.

What makes Tilma so innovative though is that it has ministry and discipleship built into the heart of the product. Everything in the tool is orientated towards ministering well and helping people experience Jesus in a deeper way. The tool models the discipleship journey with the end goal of helping people connect with real people. It helps pastors understand their people on a deeper level and the streamlined and simple management experience supports staff and ministry teams to serve their people well.

He shared several ways that Tilma helps people in various diocesan roles, including the following:

  • Pastors better understand where their parishioners are at in their faith journeys and how to better serve them.
  • Parish secretaries and business managers have an easier tool for managing the website, newsletter, announcements, and donations no matter what experience they have with technology. Events, articles, workshops and more are now accessible to them from across the diocese so they don’t have to carry the load of finding and managing new content alone.
  • Ministries have a space to connect directly with parishes to help promote new opportunities.
  • A bishop can better know where parishes and people are so he can support them and accomplish their goals/priorities.
  • Parishioners can find exactly what they need—whether it’s a resource, mentor or answers to questions that are unique to their stage of life and faith.

The OSV Challenge brought the team at Glass Canvas lots of guidance and inspiration. After a year-long process, they went through a rigorous 10-week Notre Dame IDEA Center Accelerator Program with 11 other finalists. 

“The challenge really opened up our eyes to see where God was calling us as a team and gave us the courage to put everything on the line,” Boyd said. “We had assumed things with our product previously, but being in the room with other leaders in the Church helped us understand and affirm the need we were trying to fill.”

One of the biggest benefits for Glass Canvas was learning about the product startup model. This process instigated their pivot from an agency to a product company.

“As a team built not yet fully in the product world, it was a new understanding of the risk you have to take to go after God’s calling,” Boyd said.

The Challenge greatly helped them hone the product into something ready to release. “Especially coming from an agency model, we were still functioning out of a different set of standards and needed guidance on what was necessary and unnecessary to focus on in order to succeed,” Boyd said. 

A critical catalyst in this process came in the form of the connections and mentor access that OSV facilitated. “We were connected with a calibre of network and mentorship that we wouldn’t have been introduced to otherwise,” Boyd said. 

OSV made sure we found the right mentors to make our company pivot, and those people offered such critical guidance and support. We learned so much from those who were willing to be generous with their wisdom and experience and help us not make the same mistakes they’ve already walked through ahead of us.

Community is vital to the flourishing of any business, and the OSV Challenge offered a community that was especially meaningful.

“We could have gone to incubators or corporate structures, but the OSV Challenge brings together those same benefits with the context of wanting to serve the Church and guide people to Jesus,” Boyd said. “We had access to some of the smartest, most connected and influential people, and because we were being introduced through the OSV challenge, it was possible to grow and learn about our business while still staying true to who we are.”

It’s a business owner’s dream to grow and learn with expert support and a truly understanding community. The OSV Challenge provided those elements for Glass Canvas. A year later, they’re still reaping the benefits. 

But the benefits go far beyond just one agency. Because their mission is discipleship and ministry connection, countless people are profiting immeasurably from their work. The truth is that the whole Body of Christ is reaping the benefits, thanks to the OSV Challenge.

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