Here’s The Cheapest Church Giving App
The average church spends half of its budget on staffing and administrative costs. Add to the list grounds maintenance and other necessary costs, and it’s easy to see why churches struggle. This makes justifying the cost of marketing, engagement, and experience initiatives more difficult. Fortunately, that’s exactly why so many cheap and free church software exist. But, could they end up costing you more?
What Makes A Church Giving App Good?
There are a number of features your church should be seeking in a giving software. Ideally, you’ll be looking for a solution that goes beyond giving donors new methods to give. Instead, you’ll seek out a software offering that also taps into donor experience, engagement, follow-up, and reporting. And of course, you can’t forget payment processing.
To help you make your decision, here are some of the most critical factors you should consider:
- Donor-Focused: A standalone payment processor is the equivalent of adding PayPal donate button to your site. In itself, it does nothing to increase donations, engage donors, or excite your congregation about your mission. Your software needs to touch on every step of the “donor funnel,” from their first touch to their first donation, past that to their future donations.
- Custom Branding: Another flaw that comes along with a simple payment processor is the lack of customization and branding. Did you know that branded giving pages lead to 6x more donations than a non-branded or off-site giving page will?
- Thorough Reporting: Aside from tax and financial uses, thorough donation reports allow your church to follow-up with donors about the amount you have collected and how you have spent it. With the right software, generating easy-to-understand and eye-catching reports should be simple.
- Hands-On Support: One thing you’ll never find with a free solution is good support, but it’s essential to successful implementation and utilization of any church giving app. While it doesn’t come free, support, coaching, and consulting is what will bring your church to the next level. By having someone experienced there to guide your strategy, you’ll suddenly go from “we’re trying a new software” to “we know exactly what to do now.”
This list is certainly not extensive as there are dozens of little things you’ll want to find in your church giving app, but it highlights the most critical. Now, with these in mind, let’s review some of the most popular free and cheap church giving apps on the market, and why you may want to think twice about using them.
The 4 Cheapest Church Giving Apps Around
These four church giving apps are far from the only free and cheap softwares out there, but they do rank the highest with the most new users trying them. Here’s what you need to consider.
Perhaps one of the best known “free” church softwares out there, Tithe.ly does offer a free tier, but you’ll soon see why you’re always going to end up paying for software. Like most free tiers, you’ll eventually outgrow it or be wrangled in with the promise of additional, important features that are only available for paid tiers.
In the case of this software, you could end up paying $19/month for sites (plus $149 setup), another $59/month for church apps (plus $149 setup), another $49/month (plus $149 setup) for church management, and yet another $5/month (plus fees) for text messaging.
What’s more, even if you do stay at the “free” tier, you’re still paying, the fees are just coming directly out of the donations you receive, with the per-transaction fees ranging from 1% all the way up to 3.5%, plus a fixed fee of $0.30 for each donation. This fee structure will ding your church either way, but it can especially add up if you survive on many small donations.
Promising no monthly fees and never any contracts, Givelify is another widely used free solution that acts as many churches introduction to software solutions. While there are truly no signup or monthly fees, Givelify does charge transaction fees just like every other “free” software on the planet. As with Tithe.ly and other solutions, those fees can add up quickly, too.
However, unlike many solutions, Givelify has a flat fee structure, meaning you’re always going to pay the same amount for every donation regardless of how the donation is made. Givelify charges $0.30 plus 2.9% of every transaction for each donation you receive.
This fee structure is great if you accept a lot of AMEX or credit card donations, from which some providers may take as much as 3.5%, but not so great if you receive a lot of ACH/bank transfer donations, which generally only cost about 1%. Due to this fee structure, you’ll want to consider your donors’ preferred ways to give carefully.
Another popular solution, easyTithe takes a similar approach to Tithe.ly, but their free versions change overtime as they come up with different ways to market it. For instance, right now they’ll get you into the Mid-Size Church plan, which generally costs $29/month. In reality, the cheapest easyTithe solution is the Church Plant plan, which starts at $10/month.
These monthly fees are fairly low, but they fail to mention their setup fees. easyTithe is also a solution that can quickly eat away at your church’s budget by upgrading you from plan to plan. Add-ons can turn into another big problem. For instance, if you want a custom church app, you’ll have to pay an $1,800 setup fee and $120/month thereafter. For an in-house giving kiosk, you’ll have to pay for hardware and then a $19/month fee to keep it.
Like other providers, easyTithe also charges transaction fees with a scale that’s comparable to Tithel.ly. What you can say about easyTithe is that it does offer most of the functionality a church needs to succeed. Getting it just comes at a price tag that most churches ultimately won’t consider “cheap.” This is why you should compare it carefully to other paid plans before getting wrangled into a free trial.
ChurchBase makes big promises and leaves you excited about what you think you’re going to get. Interestingly, they recently became a non-profit themselves. Still, they remain a smaller software provider with only about 2,000 church clients. At last count, they offered lifetime access with no monthly fees for a payment of around $989.
That in itself helps to reveal the marketing tactics they’re using on their website. They consistently boast “$0/month” to stand out from their competitors who generally charge monthly fees. So, while you certainly won’t be paying a monthly fee for ChurchBase, you will be paying for it. The only difference is it’s a lump sum payment up-front. That could very well fit your budget. The biggest issue with buying software, though, comes down to features and support.
There’s a reason why all the other solutions offer subscriptions. It’s because ongoing security, maintenance, support, and processing are necessary. You need all of this in your software. Of course, maybe your church has the technical capacity and resources to handle those things on its own. If that’s the case, buying software outright might be a viable option.
Your Church Will Always Pay for Software
One way or another, it’s inevitable that your church will end up paying for software. Whether you start with a free or “cheap” solution and later upgrade to a premium plan in a desperate bid to find the features you need, or choose to switch platforms entirely, growing churches cannot survive for long without the right software to back them.
For that reason, every expert out there will implore your church to explore and compare all of your options. Putting your budget aside is impossible, and it’s certainly not advisable. While still thinking of your financial wellbeing, though, you should take the time to go beyond the dollars and cents. Think about what a software will actually offer your church.
After all, many solutions promise to be your all-in-one. Unfortunately, very few live up to that promise. And if they do, they certainly aren’t able to do it for free. Here at DonorWerx, we pride ourselves on our flexible and scalable pricing. It allows us to work with churches big and small. Regardless of ministry size, we can help them grow and thrive through hands-on donor engagement and acquisition initiatives.
We achieve results with a well-rounded approach that takes software out of the spotlight and instead looks at software and hardware solutions as some of the many cogs that make the process work. Instead, our coaching and consulting services become center focus. They guide church leaders through every change, improvement, and milestone we customize to their congregation. Ultimately, each of these is going to help them reach their goals.
Want to see for yourself? Schedule a 30-minute discovery call and we’ll share with you a handful of strategies that you can implement to see at least a 10% increase in donations in the next six months. Click here to book!
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