A Guide to Online Giving for Churches
Generosity is very important to churches. Not just to have money for whatever they want, but to be able to spread the gospel and positively affect others. Yes, the Church relies on the donations of their congregation to operate smoothly but especially to be a blessing to the community. The beautiful thing is that when people give, others are greatly impacted.
That’s why online giving for churches is so important. It provides a quick and simple way for congregants to participate in generosity.
In fact, sixty percent of donors are willing to give to their church digitally. Churches that accept online tithes and offerings can see a 32% percent increase in their overall donations.
In this post, we will discuss what online giving is, the various types of digital giving options, why churches should use online giving, and how to utilize these platforms to grow your church and minister to those in your area and beyond.
What is an online giving platform?
Online giving platforms help churches collect and manage money in an efficient manner. It is church software that allows members to give their tithes online and contribute to specific giving campaigns electronically. It is a paperless transaction allowing contributions to be transferred directly from a donor’s bank account or debit/credit cards directly to the church.
With online giving, there are more options to give without having to drop cash or check into an offering plate as it passes by. It’s convenient for donors and saves time for church staff. It can also encourage more donations because people can at any time from anywhere. They no longer have to be sitting in a seat or pew to give.
When choosing an online giving platform, be sure that it integrates smoothly with your church management software (ChMS) because this will make it even easier to track finances and view giving trends.
Ways to Give Digitally
One of the most utilized ways to give is through your church website. Create custom donation forms embedded in your church giving web page. These allow donors to easily input information, like their name, contact info, the amount of money they desire to donate, the frequency of their gift, and which ministry or campus they would like it to be designated. Don’t forget to make it easy for people to find your giving link, whether that’s through tabs and buttons on your homepage or directing people there directly from email campaigns or social media posts.
Members can send donations, schedule recurring giving, or contribute to a giving campaign all through their smartphone via your church app. Meet the needs of an on-the-go congregation with this mobile-friendly giving option. They can manage their giving on their phone and contribute during the offering moment at church or during the week. Regardless of where people are, they can quickly give from the app.
Support successful stewardship with text giving. People always have their phone, and over 6 billion texts are sent every day. So, texting to give is a hassle-free way for church members to donate right from their fingertips. They simply text a keyword, like GIVE, to a designated number assigned to your church. Then they will be prompted to fill out a short giving form to submit their payment. And once they’re in the system, they won’t have to fill out the form again, so they can literally give their donation in a matter of seconds.
Giving kiosks have been around for a while, and for good reason. Attendees have the ability to give in the moment with their debit/credit cards using a touch screen kiosk that is moveable. They can be placed in the lobby, sanctuary, or even classrooms. They can be used for more than just giving, too. Kiosks make registration and child check-in a breeze.
Why Churches Should Use Online Giving
Giving electronically via websites, apps, texting, or kiosks, can help lessen the administrative burden on church staff, increase generosity among the congregation, and promote overall church growth.
When people have easy access and multiple avenues to give, they’re likely to contribute even more to the great work your church is doing. Below are some of the reasons why your church should use an online giving platform.
People aren’t really carrying cash or checks anymore
In this digital age, few people have cash on them and even fewer write checks. In fact, in a recent study, less than 16% of people that were polled carried cash on hand. These days, your church family is increasingly reliant on online banks, often using debit and credit cards and automating their payments.
Some still utilize the envelope and drop their tithe in the offering bucket, but churches who aren’t using online giving are missing out on many people who prefer to pay electronically. Those who aren’t carrying cash or check may still want to give, but if they don’t have a way to do it, they won’t.
Easier for donors to use
Giving online is convenient. Multiple ways to give helps parishioners donate in the way they prefer, whether through your parish website, by texting an amount, or submitting payments through a mobile app.
And since these methods accept debit cards, credit cards, or bank transfers, the giver can choose how the money is transferred. With complete control over the source of their giving, your donors will experience an even greater freedom to give.
Easier for church staff to manage
Improve financial organization and management by using an online donation platform. Administration is simpler because the entire giving process is automated, especially with integrated church management software. Your admin team will be empowered to keep accurate giving transactions and records. Plus, fewer mistakes will be made with less manual input since everything is done automatically via the software.
Another time saver is that members can even manage their own giving accounts, lessening the workload for church staff. By providing the ability for donors to view personal contribution statements online, it will also save money on printing and mailing costs.
Most churches who have implemented online giving have seen an increase in overall donations. Because it’s easy and convenient to use, more people are willing to give. In fact, one study found that online giving grew 20.7% in 2020, with the most funds raised coming from online donations.
Setting up recurring giving (more about this below) also encourages consistent donations, which can increase overall giving because it is automated. People often want to give consistently but might forget. Recurring gifts allow the donor to give how much and how often they desire without the hassle of remembering to do it each week.
Give from anywhere at anytime
Today’s congregants are busy and on-the-go. Most of their finances are already automated so they don’t have to constantly remember to send payments. Having the capacity to give whenever people feel led, regardless of where they are, can really benefit the church.
Even if somebody cannot attend on Sundays, they can still give from the comfort of their home, the marketplace, or wherever generosity strikes them. It continues to encourage giving even if people miss church because of an illness or vacation.
Integrations with other software
Save time and effort with an online giving program that integrates seamlessly with the other software your church is already using. It’s much easier when your programs can “talk” to each other. That way administrators can spend less time inputting duplicate information. It also helps to minimize errors because the programs work together.
With software integration, you can streamline event registration and payments. Export transaction data for use in your accounting software. Connect with and manage donors within your member management software.
Recurring giving options help to stabilize giving trends and reduce slumps in slower seasons. It’s easy-to-use for donors and beneficial for the church. Simply include a button or checkbox in your online giving form for people to easily indicate they want their gift to be automated.
It makes church budgeting easier, too, because your team can have a better idea of what to expect throughout the year with consistent, monetary donations.
Recurring giving resources
Various fund categories can help to encourage people to give to something specific. Yes, they can still choose the general church fund, but you can provide a drop down menu to specify ministries, goals, projects, campaigns, or campuses that your church might be raising money for.
Often, people want to get behind a certain project or ministry that they’re passionate about. This can inspire even more people to give.
Managing ministry finances is already challenging enough. Simplify things by creating valuable giving reports for church leadership and track data to help predict progression and fluctuations.
Graph monthly trends, recurring giving, and forecasting. Generate reports by person, date range, funds, or transactions.
How to Make Online Giving Effective
Share the heart behind giving
One way to assist your church family to get on board with giving is to help them understand the heart behind why we give in the first place. Giving is biblical, so share with your congregation how being generous means we are walking in faith and obedience.
God calls us to have a heart of generosity. Let your congregation know how they can also have an eternal impact through their financial contributions. Below are some Bible verses to help share God’s perspective:
Scriptures about Giving
So, what does the Bible say about giving? There are literally hundreds of verses that talk about money.
When people understand the why behind giving, and that it is more of a spiritual thing than a money thing, they’ll be further committed to giving. As a church leader or pastor, you are probably very familiar with these verses. But maybe consider reteaching or expounding on these topics in your sermons, in emails, or devotionals.
Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7
But who am I and who are my people that we should be able to offer as generously as this? For all things come from You, and from Your hand we have given to You. 1 Chronicles 29:14
A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. Proverbs 11:25
Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Luke 6:38
Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops. Proverbs 3:9
Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. "Test me in this," says the Lord Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it." Malachi 3:10
Talk about online giving
For your congregation to know about giving, specifically that you have an online giving solution, you’ll need to mention it. Share from the platform about why we give and how to do it. Talk about the options on your webpage or in email campaigns you send. Share social media posts with your giving link or the number to text to give.
Leadership as an example
If your staff and volunteers are leading by example, it will encourage your members to be more consistent in their giving. How can we expect to build a community of generosity if the leaders aren’t paving the way? Maybe even have a pastor demonstrate the online giving process from the pulpit to show how easy it is.
Make it easily accessible
Sure, you have all these convenient ways to give, but if they’re not easily accessible, people might miss out on the opportunity. Highlight your giving page on your website with tabs and buttons that are clearly defined. Include links from your church social media posts and email blasts that direct them to your giving forms. People shouldn’t have to search high and low to figure out how to contribute.
Recurring giving is an easy way for donors to give of their first fruits because they won’t have to be reminded. If they automate their donations, it will reduce the chance of them forgetting their tithe on Sunday. They can select how much and when their money will be transferred. This is one way your people can help the overall vision of the church, and they can give even when they aren’t at the worship service.
More Recurring Gifts Resources:
One beneficial feature to online giving is having various funds for people to give to. With fund management, participants can choose which ministry, project, campus, or campaign they want to support. Host a giving campaign during seasonal slumps or when you’re trying to raise money for a special project. People love to get behind ministry that they’re passionate about.
Stories and testimonies about giving
Sharing stories about the faith and obedience involved with giving can help move others to do the same. Explain how somebody had given financially and how it impacted not only their life but especially those whom it served. Tell stories about the community influence a certain giving campaign funded. Publish testimonies on your church blog or send updates in donor emails.
Thank your donors
Another great feature of digital giving for churches is the ability to track who has donated what because it’s automatically updated. With this, you can send emails and letters to thank donors for their contributions and update them about how their gift is expanding ministry throughout your area. Send customized thank you and receipt emails. This will help encourage more giving because they will feel appreciated, thus furthering your church’s mission and honoring God in the process.