What Is Online Giving and Why Does Your Church Need It?
With people attending church less frequently, and some halting their attendance altogether in light of recent complications, many churches are seeing a decline in donations. For churches whose only giving opportunity is during in-person service, the pandemic has put them into a scramble to set up other means of giving for their supporters.
Here’s what you need to know about online giving and why it’s integral that your church keeps up with the times and offers it as an option.
Why Is Online Giving Important?
There are many factors that have led to a decrease in overall giving, and more factors that have led to a decrease in in-person giving. Online giving can help address many of these aspects.
- Declining attendance. Whether it’s due to the pandemic or in line with the trends we’ve been seeing for years that show churches just aren’t as popular as they used to be, a decline in attendance has led to a disconnection from the church in general and a steep decline in service offerings.
- Fewer cash carriers. Even for those who are attending church in person, donating in person simply isn’t realistic for a lot of attendees. Only 16 percent of Americans carry cash regularly since the pandemic started.
- Security concerns. Nonprofit fraud comes in many forms, but stories of mass embezzlement have made donors in every sector concerned for the impact of their donations. With some numbers estimating that 30 percent of workers steal, there’s no doubt that the added security of online giving can help restore peace of mind to supporters.
These reasons are at the top of a long list, but they’re the most timely and the most widely applicable factors to consider for most churches. Ultimately, you have to recognize the benefits of online giving (both for your donors and for your church) to truly see its value.
The Benefits of Online Giving
For many churches, adding online giving as an option entails not only introducing donors to the idea in a thoughtful manner, but also convincing some of their own staff or ministry leaders about its importance. Some struggle to see how online giving fits into the church’s system while others are concerned about potential fees.
Every concern has the right to be heard, and an understanding of all the benefits your church and its donors stand to receive is crucial in making the transition a smooth one.
- Convenience. By far, the ease of online giving is at the top of the benefits list. Donors will find giving online to be a familiar and simple experience as they use the debit or credit card they already use to make thousands of purchases a year.
- Simplified accounting. No more counting cash — or worrying about where it went. Online giving offers streamlined accounting, giving your church a clearer picture of how much you’re collecting and where it’s going.
- Recurring gifts. Online giving makes it easy to set up recurring gifts, allowing your church to pursue a more steady revenue stream while donors enjoy a “set it and forget it” approach to tithing. No more forgetting to head to the ATM to get cash for the offering plate.
- Better insights. When people give online, you can suddenly track where every one of your church’s dollars is coming from. No more guessing who put what in the offering plate. Online giving allows your church to tap into donor insights, better understand who’s giving, how you can encourage bigger gifts, and what segments to target for first-time gifts.
These benefits are only the tip of the iceberg. When your church implements online giving, you’ll quickly realize countless benefits that reinforce your decision with each donation you receive.
How Does Online Giving Work?
Online giving can come in many forms, with the most popular methods including the following.
1. Online Giving Page
The most popular method for collecting donations online is to set up an online giving page using a giving software. This page may be on your own website or hosted on a third-party platform. Some software allows you to embed a form directly on your site’s pages, while others will include a button that may show a pop-up form when clicked.
When choosing a giving software, it’s best to look for a solution that keeps visitors on your website and offers them a fully branded experience. Redirecting visitors to a third-party website to collect their donations can make for a disjointed experience and cause concerns of trust if they aren’t familiar with the payments provider.
2. Giving Kiosks
Giving kiosks are unique in that they provide a hybrid experience. Kiosks are stationed in your church and provide direct access to your online giving form. They give donors the ease and convenience of using a credit card, along with the option to set up a recurring gift. Meanwhile, they give your church all the same data and insights you’ll come to love from online giving.
Giving kiosks are great for donors who like making donations in-person, but often forget to get cash for the offering plate or otherwise find it easier to use their card. They also provide a physical portal and a visual reminder to your attendees.
An extension of online giving, text-to-give allows your donors to send a text message to a specific number, allowing them to give right from their mobile device.
- Text-to-give generally refers to a software that sends them a mobile-friendly link where they can complete the giving process in a few taps.
- Text-to-donate typically refers to a service that allows them to send a code to a number, and the amount will be added to their phone bill.
Either option can help your church collect more donations while providing convenience for supporters.
4. Mobile Giving
An alternative to text-to-give is a mobile giving app, which provides an easy giving option for mobile users and can act as a portal to your church’s digital presence with unique content and other elements added in.
Your church can have a mobile giving app custom designed for it, or you may choose to use a service that provides a mobile giving interface as part of a larger app. For instance, your supporters would download an app and then search for your church within a database of other churches using the service to find its giving form and content.
Get Started With Online Giving
Online giving is a smart move for any church, but getting started can feel daunting. Here at DonorWerx, we coach churches big and small into making the step toward online giving and a more secure financial future. Have questions?
Schedule a 30-minute discovery call and we will help you craft unique, customized strategies right away to help you increase your donations. Book your call now.