One pastor’s view about on-line giving


We read all types of articles about on-line giving for churches these days.  Many of the articles are written about what people
THINK on-line giving will do for your church.  I decided to find out what on-line giving REALLY can do for a church.

I decided to interview Brian Germano, Senior Pastor of East Cobb UMC in Marietta, GA.  I have known Brian for 10 years and have had the opportunity to work with him in two churches he has served.  I wanted to get answers to questions I know leaders in churches are asking about on-line giving.  I hope you find this information helpful.

Alan:  “How long has East Cobb UMC had on-line giving available as an option to give?”

Brian:  “Three years.”

Alan:  “What prompted you and the church to pursue on-line giving?”

Brian:  “We were experiencing summer giving slumps.  We were seeing the connection between attendance and giving.  People would be gone for several Sundays in the summer and often times would not catch up.  They would pick up their giving when they returned, but would not go back and catch up on the Sundays they missed.  We needed to do something to help slow this trend down.”

Alan:  “Did it help on the summer slumps?”

Brian:  “Absolutely.  2010 summer giving was the best it has been.  It did not eradicate the summer giving being down, but the downward curve was not as steep.  I attribute this to on-line giving.”

Alan:  “Were there other reasons for moving to on-line giving for your church?”

Brian:  “Another reason we moved to on-line giving was our desire to allow people to be more consistent in their giving regarding when they gave.  People could set up their giving to come out of their paycheck first and then pay all of their bills.  On-line giving has also allowed us to connect to our younger generation.  They don’t write checks.  It also showed them that giving is connected to worship.  We are able to do this because we have a separate giving card for our e-givers to place in the offering plate during worship.”

Alan:  “What percentage of giving is coming from the electronic giving option?”

Brian:  “We have about 15% of our giving done via electronic giving.  It may be a small amount of the budget but it is consistent every month.”

Alan:  “How many families use the on-line giving option?”

Brian:  “We started with 10-20 families in the first year and have added about 10 families per year so we have about 30% of our pledged giving units using automatic giving.”

Alan:  “How do you encourage people to give electronically?”

Brian:  “We basically did a mini campaign the first year.  We had brochures, emails, and several Sunday’s worth of announcements in worship.  We do a small version of this every year to remind those who have been here a while they can still participate in on-line giving and it also serves as an introduction to our new people.”

Alan:  “Are there drawbacks to on-line giving?”

Brian:  “Yes.  The major obstacle we encountered was making the right selection of which company to use to handle our on-line giving transactions.  We had trouble getting the electronic giving integrated with our current church management software.  We tried multiple times to fix the problems but it still is not the way we want it.  We are exploring the possibility of changing companies.”

Alan:  “Where there other problems?”

Brian:  “Yes.  The company we are using does not only work with on-line giving.  Their on-line giving option is a portion of a much larger and broader piece of software.  We don’t need all of the other stuff; we just need the on-line giving portion.”

Alan:  “Has it been worth it to go to on-line giving as a viable option for the people of your church.”

Brian:  “Absolutely.  The pros far outweigh the cons.”

Alan:  “Please tell those out there reading this the 3 top reasons for them to have on-line giving in their church.”

Brian:

  1. “The consistency of giving increases.”
  2. “You will connect giving to worship more effectively with the millenials and Gen Xers.”
  3. “It makes giving to God a priority.  Your giving will be the first 10% out of your check instead of the left overs.”

Alan:  “Please tell the readers the top 3 lessons you and your leaders have learned about how to implement on-line giving in your church.”

Brian:

  1. “Make sure you are not creating more work for your accounting people.  E-giving should make things easier; not more difficult.  There is software out there that can integrate easily with your church management software.”
  2. “Make sure you have a giving envelope/card available in the pews/seats for people who give electronically.  This will allow them to put something in the offering plate every Sunday.  We  have a separate card for online giving because it allows our e-givers to feel connected in the offering part of worship and it encourages other people to give electronically as they witness others doing so.”
  3. “Don’t expect everyone to get on board at once.  Be intentional with your communications about e-giving options in your church.  You must continue to communicate the options or people will not do it.”

I am thankful to Brian for his willingness to share his experiences with on-line giving from a pastor’s perspective.  I hope you found this information helpful.  I’d love to hear your comments about on-line giving experiences you have had.

5 Comments

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    • Alan Wildes

      Ryan, every CMS is different and responds to the different electronic giving software out there. There are several good ones out there. The advice that Brian gave me in the interview that I didn’t write because of length is if you are considering doing e-giving then call your pastor friends in the area and ask which ones they use only if they use the same CMS you do. Ask them the pros and cons and then call and talk to at least two different companies if not three.

      What CMS do you use?

      • Ryan Wakefield

        Alan,
        We work with a number of churches that use a variety of services and solutions. Unfortunately, many churches still use only Paypal or some cumbersome ACH only process. Many of the churches we work with are using Shelby for their CMS. So far I have been impressed with what SecureGive and MinistryGive are offering. I was just wondering what are some other solutions out there that pastors really love.

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