Giving is the life-blood of every church. Yet in today’s world of PayPal, ApplePay, and Venmo have we kept pace with how our people like to give? When was the last time you paid for something using cash or a check? Does your church accept credit cards? Do you have a means of establishing recurring donations? How does someone without a preprinted giving envelope give if they want a tax deduction and don’t have a checking account? Does your giving decline in the summer when people are on vacation? Are you able to make up this shortfall? How efficient are your deacons at counting the morning’s offering and entering the information into your giving tracking software? Could their time and energy be better spent?
Here are some suggestions for creating a more giving friendly church…
Discover best practices in giving
Several churches have already discovered how to harness giving through electronic contributions and recurring donations. Find a church or two that is doing this well and ask them for their advice on how that got this done, the partners they chose, etc.
Count the cost
Unfortunately, the services required to facilitate online giving are not free. There can be monthly as well as per transaction fees depending on the range of ways you allow people to give — credit card, ACH, Text-to-give, etc.
Develop a plan
New giving options will demand casting a vision for the upside of electronic giving including consistency, a broader support of ministry and personal convenience that outweighs the additional cost. Once the case has been made for electronic giving, think through both an implementation strategy for the tools and processes as well as a communication plan to enable your congregation to embrace this change.
Find trusted partners
You will need partners to facilitate connecting givers with the partner who will process their transactions. In many cases, the same partner can serve both functions. There are several credible partners that churches are already using. Do your research, evaluate the costs and check references to guarantee their financial integrity.
Consider a phased rollout
There are multiple new forms of giving — giving kiosks, online, text-to-give — as well as multiple payment options — credit card, ACH, etc. However, this doesn’t mean you need to implement all of them from the beginning. Consider keeping it simple — and at a lower cost — by starting with a single new option like creating a new link on your website site that allows people to give using credit cards. Then as you see people embracing it, you can add more functionality over time.
Appreciate all gifts, especially those given electronically
One hurdle to electronic giving is that people often feel uneasy about not putting something in the offering plate. This can be overcome and the message of electronic giving can be enhanced if during every worship gathering appreciation is expressed to those who have already given online.
Don’t forget to integrate with your financial systems
Remember you now have financial contributions coming in from a new source. Work with your Deacons to make sure you integrate with your existing financial systems. While some partners can integrate with your existing financial system, most can, at a minimum, provide ways for you to capture online giving data via csv files. Most financial system can import this type of data directly into your financial system.
If you’d like more information or help in implementing solutions, contact Greg May at firstname.lastname@example.org