Online Giving Options for Churches

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Even before COVID-19, churches were becoming more digital. They were using social media to communicate, send church announcements electronically, and create digital membership pictorials. Some churches were also encouraging members to give through online systems.

The pandemic has highlighted the importance of a digital church presence and of online giving. And more churches have discovered that online giving allows them to maintain a more consistent level of giving.

Online giving systems allow individuals to adjust their giving, choosing when they want to give, how much they want to give, and even set-up recurrent giving. These systems allow churchgoers to give to special ministry projects or special offerings. For example, when a non-profit shares their ministry story at church, members can give online immediately and give an amount they may not have with them at church. 

From debit, to credit to automatic bank withdrawals, online donation systems make tithes and offerings easy for everyone. There are some great online giving platforms that can be adjusted to fit any church many are able to integrate with your member software. But with all the options out there, how do you know which one is right for your church? 

Here are six online giving platforms we think may work for your church. These are not the only options, but this list can give you the starting point to do your own research.

DETAILS 

Note: These service providers may not be available or may have limited services in Canada or the US. Please verify before signing up that they can provide the right services for your church. 

Tithe.ly

Platform: Mobile, online giving integration, admin gift entry, kiosk, and text to give

Cost: base free, additional cost for some features

Transaction fees: 2.9%+ $0.30 per transaction

Country: Canada and US

Why we like Tithe.ly

  • Easy to set up and manage
  • Convenient for donors
  • Recurring gift and payments
  • “Cover the fee” option

Pushpay

Platform: Mobile, online, text, Kiosk giving

Price: Tiered

Transaction Fee: Varies by Card (2.5% to 3% per transaction)

Country: Canada and US

Why we like Pushpay

  • Drives participation
  • Excellent support and security
  • More features than just donating

    PayPal

    Platform: Online giving integration

    Cost: base free

    Transaction fees: 2.2% + $0.30 per transaction (for qualifying non-profits)

    Country: Canada and US

    Why we like PayPal

    • Easy to setup and use anywhere on the website
    • Customized Landing Page
    • Recurring Donations option
    • Well known by many people

    EasyTithe

    Platform: Mobile, Facebook App integration, text to give and kiosk     

    Cost: Tiered pricing

    Transaction fee: Varies depending on pricing tier. Free option is 3% +$0.39 per transaction

    Country: US only

    Why we like EasyTithe

    • Free option but also a pricing tier
    • Free app for churches
    • Convenient for donors
    • Recurring gift option
    • “Cover the fee” option
    • Online store feature
    • Training videos

    SecureGive

    Platform: Mobile, Online, text, Kiosk giving, check scanning

    Price: Tiered Monthly

    Transaction fee: 1.75% for debit and 2.5% for credit + $0.30 per transaction

    Country: US only

    Why we like SecureGive

    • Long history of helping churches
    • Biblical stewardship strategy
    • Multiple feature options
    • Emphasis on security
    • Very good transaction fees

    Canada Helps

    Platform: Mobile, Online

    Cost: base free

    Transaction fee: 4.0% for credit, 3.5% for recurring gifts

    Country: Canada only

    Why we like Canada Helps

    • Long history of helping Charities across Canada
    • A searchable database 
    • Customizable forms you can place on your own website
    • Emphasis on security

    Bonus: The Bridge App. The Bridge App is a multi-function tool that started with some vision inside the CRC. With a mission to create a bridge between local churches and their members, and an added goal of strengthening individuals within the local church context. The platform accommodates announcements, prayers, an events calendar, church directory, Bible (with multiple translations), Today devotional, CRC news, a church finder and a Watch function for streaming your local worship service. 

    For online giving, members can give using either credit (3%) or debit (no charge) cards and can choose from any number of customizable local church base causes (ie GEMS, Benevolence, Food Bank, as well as the General Fund). The GIVE function is also available through a ‘public donation’ website URL.  So anyone with a computer can donate towards the work of the local church.

    Currently available in both the US and Canada, there are over 150 Christian Reformed Churches that are using it on a regular basis.

    In the end choosing the right online giving platform is up to the individual church and your needs. Some churches will want a very robust system—something that can grow with their church as they grow. Other churches will want a more simple easy to use system so all their members can feel comfortable using online giving. 

    As you review online platforms don't be afraid to call them and ask questions. Many of them, if not all of them, will schedule a demo. Finding the platform that works for your church will take a little time and research. But once your church starts utilizing an online platform, I think you will wonder: why did we wait so long to get online?

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    Admin

    Another tip...whatever online giving solution you choose, make sure it integrates with your church management system (or could be integrated in the future if you don't yet have a church management system). You don't want to be rekeying or importing transactions. As soon as a donation is made, it should be instantly reflected in that member's giving record, and members should be able to log in to view their giving history, adjust their recurring donations, etc.

    This isn't high-tech stuff. These days, any church large or small can have this functionality by choosing a good, web-based church management system (there are many on the market). It's been a game-changer for my own church, especially for our church admin and volunteer deacons/bookkeeper. 

    Community Builder

    Through CRCNA Canadian Ministries and The Bridge App, we have worked closely with 100+ churches.  One common piece of feedback is that churches need solutions that fit within their staff and volunteer capacity.  The solution for a large church with multiple staff is quite different than that of a medium sized church with limited staff, which is very different from a church with part-time administrative staff or a church that largely relies on volunteers.  So whatever solution you consider, be sure to get input from those who will be responsible for making things happen on a regular basis (office admin, treasurer, bookkeeper - whether they are staff or volunteers).  Look for the 'right size' solution.  Don't opt for something you will soon out-grow, nor become bogged down or burn people out with something that requires a disproportionate amount of input vs. return/output.
    The church office can easily become overwhelmed, or too many app functions can become dependent on one key person.
    For that reason, we designed The Bridge App so that specific areas of responsibility can be easily delegated to a deacon, a treasurer, a prayer champion, etc.  Posting a prayer or announcement is as easy as sending an email.  A treasurer can add all the offering causes for a given month within a matter of minutes, using 'start' and 'expiry' dates.  Plus, The Bridge App is one of the few digital giving tools that can support ACH transactions - directly from the donor's bank account.  For CRCs in Canada, this also means no fees to the donor nor the recipient church.
    Before making any commitment to a service provider, it may be advisable to apply the actual number of transactions and dollar value for a previous 2-3 month period, and verify what your true fees/costs would be.
    If you would like more information about The Bridge App, please contact [email protected]