Everything You Should Know About Church Tithing Software
Overall giving has seen its sixth consecutive year of growth, with a rate of 4.1% last year. What’s more, online giving grew by an astonishing 12.1%. What does that mean for your church? To put it simply, while all of its good news, the fact that the growth of online giving is now outpacing overall giving means that your church better have a way of collecting donations digitally.
In other words, these statistics prove that online giving is taking up a larger and larger share of the giving industry as time goes by. Already, its growth is outpacing overall giving, and that means digital tithing will only grow more popular (and necessary) as we progress into 2020 and beyond.
Yet, so many churches feel that digital tithing is a taboo topic. In fact, in the midst of the pandemic, many churches began exploring digital options for the very first time online out of absolute necessity, having never strongly considered their online presence before.
Regardless of where your church stands, these answers to some common questions and key considerations will help guide your decision as you make perhaps one of the biggest marketing and growth decisions your church has had to make in a long time.
What Are The Ethics Behind Church Giving?
For some churches, digital tithing is an easy decision as they see more and more congregants carrying less cash, more cards, and new smart devices in every pocket. For others, digital tithing presents some unique ethical questions.
Is Church Tithing Software Not As Spiritual?
Your stance on the spirituality of digital tithing will be a key decision point in deciding whether you should move forward with a digital tithing software or not. Ultimately, you have to consider what the Bible says when it comes to tithing.
Every Sunday, your church passes around the offering plate and any church member that tithes is making the conscious decision, and a physical effort, to do so. Some think that this physical effort has a more spiritual connection, or perhaps symbolism, than online tithing.
However, when the Bible speaks on this topic, the passages make it clear that God cares not so much about what’s happening in our hands, with the physical gesture, but more so about what’s happening in our hearts. That’s what makes tithing spiritual.
Don’t think that digital giving somehow inhibits intentional giving. While many will still want to put their dollars in the plate as they pass it around, for a growing number of others, digital giving is the most comfortable and familiar way for them to continue the tradition of tithing.
It Credit Card Tithing Acceptable?
Another ethical debate that you may not have even considered is the fact that digital tithing opens the doors for many payment methods, including tithing via credit cards. Given that 70% of Americans have at least one credit card, this can prove extremely convenient. However, with issues of household debt being a heated topic across the country, you may be weary to enable credit card tithing.
Fortunately, statistics show that digital tithing doesn’t seem to connect to an accumulation of debt. In fact, Nonprofit Source says that 80% of people who donate to their church have no credit card debt to begin with. So, the question really comes down to how your church talks about debt and what you teach about financial responsibility.
If your church already advises your congregants to avoid credit card debt, manage their finances responsibly, and so on, you can safely add digital tithing to your donation methods, unless it just doesn’t sit right with you. For instance, if you know your congregants may already be struggling with debt and you think the pressure to give outweighs their ability to manage finances, you should make it a talking point and consider putting off digital tithing until you’re confident it will be managed correctly.
The Countless Benefits of Church Tithing Software
With the two biggest ethical questions out of the way, let’s dig into a non-extensive list of some of digital tithing’s top benefits.
Fast, Automatic Processing
With a digital tithe, there’s no gathering money from the offering plate, running to the bank to cash checks, or counting the dollars in every envelope. Instead, the money is instantly and readily available in your church’s account without any extra legwork. That cuts down on administrative duties, and it also has a less-talked-about benefit: security.
Unfortunately, church fraud is a very real problem and it could be happening in your community without you knowing. Having the right checks and balances in place helps prevent it, but ultimately, whenever you have people handling cash money, it’s impossible to guarantee it’s all going where it should unless you’re there overseeing it yourself.
If you know fraud to be an issue in your church, or fear it could become one, this extra side benefit of digital tithing will certainly give you peace of mind.
Fewer Hurdles in Giving
Have you ever been filling out a form online only to grow more and more frustrated with all the fields? Donors are much the same way. In fact, they usually have far less tolerance for unnecessary fields and added steps or clicks. Such things can greatly harm your donors’ experience, causing them to stop an attempted donation in progress or making them weary to come back a second time.
Fortunately, digital tithing helps to remove many hurdles. With the right software, app giving could make it as simple as two taps to give a daily tithe while an online form should be effortlessly filled out with as little info and clicks as possible.
And, when you compare digital tithing to traditional tithing, you’re definitely saving donors the trouble. Since most hardly carry cash or checks anymore, tithing might force them to run to the bank or ATM (or forget to) on a regular basis. That means digital tithing becomes the preferred option for many donors and can even encourage tithing from those who haven’t tithed before.
More Data Equals A Better Experience
Going back to the topic of donor experience, how do you thank those who tithe in your offering plate? Do you even know of all the donors who tithe traditionally? If you’re a bigger church, the answer is probably a resounding no, and that’s a problem. Anytime a donor gives, they should feel warmly and personally thanked for that gift, even if it’s a small, regular tithe.
After all, keeping your regular donors engaged is the only surefire way to keep your church’s finances in order, and that’s where digital tithing really shines. The fact is, with a digital system to back it, digital tithing makes keeping up with your donors so much easier. The stored data tells you exactly who gives, how much, when, and how often. All of that data means better follow-up.
With the right “thank you” messages and follow-up after-the-fact, your donor experience will improve ten-fold, thereby helping donors realize their impact (and your gratitude). To put it simply, more data means more donations! All you have to do is use it to offer an improved donor experience, and that’s often done-for-you if you choose the right software with automation capabilities.
Integrations Mean Efficient Management
While you might be new to the world of church software, you should know that rarely can a church run on just one tool. Rather, it takes a suite of tools to get things going and running smoothly. Fortunately, church tithing software easily integrates with any other tool in your stack, and that means more efficient management for your whole church!
The right tithing software will also feature built-in reporting tools and other essential inclusions so that you can keep your church in-the-know with everything that’s going on, both financially and non-financially. By connecting all your tools together, you should get a seamless bird’s-eye view of your church’s operations at any point in time, and that helps everyone do more.
Changing Your Church’s Giving Habits
At the end of the day, once you accept digital giving as part of your church’s strategy to grow and move forward into the future, you need to consider how it’s going to change (and address) your congregation’s habits.
First, recognize that digital giving shouldn’t replace traditional giving, and it never intends to. Rather, digital giving is in addition to your traditional giving methods, and it will help you tap in and connect to the donors who would rather give digitally for a multitude of reasons.
However, you can’t just implement digital giving methods and call it a day. You have to first consider the ways in which your congregants want to give, and the ways they don’t. For instance, many churches are quick to adopt text-to-give software, which allows people to give by texting a keyword to a short number. The issue? First-time donors may not like or use this method.
Overcoming Church Tithing Software Hurdles
People are already weary about giving their info to unfamiliar phone numbers. So a first-time donor who’s still relatively new to your church might have reservations. You will need to give them the visual reassurance of your branding. This tells them their money will end up at the right place. However, the donor who religiously goes to the ATM to get their cash tithe every Sunday may welcome the option to text it instead.
So, you need to look at your congregation (and even survey them) and consider which types of digital giving methods they’d actually use. Beyond that, you need to take the time to educate them when you implement these options and inform them about how they work and that’s where many churches fall short.
It’s not a matter of build it and they will come. With digital giving software of any kind, you have to talk about it, inform your congregation, and push them to use it frequently once it’s implemented. Fail to do that, and they’ll fail to adopt any software you put in front of them.
What to Look for in a Church Tithing Software
Now that we’ve talked about how to help your church adopt your move to digital giving, let’s look at some key considerations you should seek out when finding a tithing software for your organization.
Multiple Giving Options
As we were just saying, there’s more than one way to give digitally, and your church should have as many methods in place as possible because not all of your congregants will want to give in the same way. Text giving is a popular solution, but so is online giving and app giving. Moreover, it may be worthwhile to explore other in-person giving options that accept digital payments, such as kiosk giving.
If your church is just beginning to get online, you might not think twice about the look and feel of a platform’s website. In reality, it can tell you a lot. The last thing you want to do is pay for a software that’s stuck in the past. Instead, you should be looking for an innovative solution that stays ahead of the times. Make sure it’s on top of all the trends. By doing so, you’ll have something with the most seamless integration and the upgraded donation experience. This is what your digital-loving congregants care about.
Digital security should be a major consideration in the giving software you choose, albeit an obvious one. While you might just want to assume that any giving platform out there is following the best practices in security, that’s not necessarily the case. Never hesitate to ask the sales team about what security practices and protocols they follow. After all, these are the only things standing between your donations and a cyber thief.
It doesn’t matter whether you have questions before the sale or during the implementation. Even if you’re in the integration or adoption process. Any church software you buy into should have excellent support to back it. So, be sure to reach out to the sales team well in advance. As in, as soon as you start your selection process. You will get a feel for how responsive the team for each software is.
More than that, look for reviews that mention the support. The sales team may very well be more responsive than the actual customer support team. This won’t help after you sign up. Plus, reading reviews is a great move in general — and you should also consider watching some to get a feel for the visual interface of any software you consider.
Words of Wisdom As You Make Your Decision
Ultimately, if there’s one thing we can stress in this guide, it’s that stepping into the digital era should be nothing but good news for your church. Even if it does feel a bit taboo. If you have concerns or questions, we understand. In fact, we can help answer them.
We talk with church leaders every day and help coach them down the path to adopting digital software. For many, it’s the very first time. Regardless of where your church currently stands, we can help guide you to the next phase. Whether or not you have a website, a social media presence, or even existing software. We can help guide you into the next phase, and enable you to grow along the way.
Interested in learning more? Just reach out to us and schedule a Discovery Call. Give us 30 minutes of your time and we’ll share with you a handful of strategies that you can use today. You will see a 10% increase in your church’s donations over the next 6 months. And to make sure everything runs smoothly, we’ll be here to help every step of the way.