Over the last few years, you have probably noticed a big change during the offering moments that occur in your church: the offering plate is empty (or at least a little more shallow than in years past). This is because most churches offer some form of online giving, which is a growing trend for both the churches receiving tithes and offerings and the church goers that are generously giving them.
My friends over at Qgiv, a company that is making it easier and easier for tax-exempt organizations to accept contributions online, are sharing some of their thoughts on online giving and 4 essential tools your church can use to fill the virtual offering basket.
Your church knows the importance of a diversified giving strategy. There are so many different ways to reach out to your congregation for giving: email, direct mail, phone calls, in-person during services and events.
Different members prefer different communication and giving styles, even during time-honored traditions like passing the offering plate! It’s vital that your giving strategy includes a variety of giving tools to match personal preferences.
More and more people are finding that online giving is the easiest way to show their support, because they can give from wherever, whenever, and however they like.
So what online giving tools does your church need to empower all of your people to give to your church? Here are our 4 favorites:
- A customizable and functional online giving form.
- Mobile giving software.
- Online event registration options.
- Options for easing common giving concerns.
When you meet your church’s members where they are with ways that make giving back as easy as possible, you’ll see how well your congregation will respond.
1. A customizable and functional online giving form.
The first step to a sustainable online giving strategy is to have a solid foundation for the rest of your ideas. The first online giving tool that your church needs to invest in is an online giving form.
What makes an online giving form so special? First, it’s an easy way for someone to give to the church wherever and whenever it’s easiest for them. Second, when your online giving form is featured on your church’s website, people will be given the opportunity to give even as they sign up for events, small groups, or mission trips.
When choosing an online giving form provider, consider the following necessary form features:
- Customizability. Your giving form should match the branding of the rest of your website so that your people will feel comfortable putting their sensitive information into the fields on the page.
- Mobile optimization. More and more people access the internet primarily from their smartphones. If your webpage doesn’t load quickly, is unresponsive, or is incomprehensible on a small screen, your people aren’t going to feel led to give.
- Integrability. How are you keeping track of giving? Choose an online form provider that flows the information from the form to your CRM, or congregation relationship manager.
People will also prefer giving through a unique and branded giving form rather than PayPal, because it feels more secure as well as more intimate. If your church uses PayPal to process giving and is looking for something more, consider this list of alternatives from Qgiv.
Offering an online giving form to your congregation is a great way to build a strong foundation for your online giving strategy.
2. Mobile giving software.
As mentioned before, more and more people access the internet primarily through their smartphones. And they go everywhere with people! When was the last time you left your house without your phone?
Mobile giving software might just be the tool your church needs to increase giving. Text-to-give, or text-to-tithe, is a method that makes giving to the church easy. All your people have to do is pull out their phone, text a secure number, and fill out a form!
Why is mobile giving so effective for churches?
- Because it’s so quick and easy, members can give to the church as the Spirit moves them. This can happen at services, events, small group meetings, or group dinners. The opportunities are endless.
- Many people don’t carry checkbooks or cash with them, and processing credit card transactions during a service can break the flow. Text-to-tithe means people can give during the offering without worrying about not having cash on hand to put in the offering plate.
- Younger generations can sometimes feel removed from the offering during a service, especially because it’s often the younger audience who doesn’t carry cash or checks. Including a text-to-tithe option is great for meeting younger attendees where they are and helping them invest emotionally and financially in the church.
Include your text-to-give number in your Sunday bulletin and tell your congregation that this is their excuse to pull out their phones! You’ll see your giving rates skyrocket on Sunday mornings.
3. Online event registration options.
How is your church keeping track of which people attend weekly dinners or lead which small groups? Which parents signed their kids up for vacation bible school, and which high schoolers volunteered to work at VBS?
Investing in a smart online event registration program can have big benefits for your giving strategy.
- Customizable registration forms means your church can use registration forms for group dinners, small group sessions, vacation bible school, mission trips, and volunteer events. You’ll never forget a food allergy or special need again with a system that keeps track of those things.
- You can charge for tickets and ask for giving in the form, which decreases the rate of forgotten payments as well as offering those feeling moved a way to give while they’re thinking about your church’s events.
- You can raise awareness about your events by sharing the registration page on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms.
With a smart online event registration program, you’ll be able to spread your church’s works further than before, while also increasing the amount of giving you can receive related to those works.
If you’re looking for an event-planning or registration software update, consider this list of Eventbrite competitors from Double the giving for a place to start.
4. Options for easing common giving concerns.
When your congregation considers how they give to their church, they probably have a couple of concerns. Two of the most common concerns are:
- They don’t like that some of their contribution to their church gets taken by credit card processors.
- They’re so busy that they worry they won’t be around enough to give to the church a much as they’d like to.
Both of these concerns are just natural extensions of the state of the world these days. Everyone’s lives and careers are paced so quickly that it’s hard to know what someone will be doing in one month, two months, or a year.
And while credit and debit cards have made some things easier for some consumers, the costs associated with using those cards has created new difficulties for others.
But when your church invests in worthwhile online giving tools, you can assuage these concerns and raise more money for your church’s projects.
The best online giving software providers offer an option on their online giving forms that allows givers to cover the processing costs of a credit card giving so that more money goes to the church. (Qgiv’s version, for example, is called GiftAssist.)
When a person decides to give $100, they actually offer to pay $103 or something similar, depending on the processing cost. This way, that the full $100 that they intended to give to the church actually gets to the church.
Smart software providers also allow supporters to choose an option for recurring gifts, or what’s known as a “set it and forget it” giving. The member chooses the amount and the frequency, and then the software makes regular giving for the donor every cycle.
For example, a person who travels frequently for work and can’t always make it to services on Sunday could choose the option to give $20 to the church monthly. Every month, the $20 is given to the church, and the person never has to worry about forgetting to tithe.
This is also useful during the summer, when families are frequently traveling and church attendance trends drop.
When your church makes tithing easier for its congregants, everyone benefits.
Your church has a mission, and smart online giving platforms can help your church achieve that mission. Easy-to-use giving tools are essential to achieving your church’s financial goals.
Abby Jarvis is a blogger, marketer, and communications coordinator for Qgiv, an online fundraising service provider. Qgiv offers industry-leading online giving and peer to peer fundraising tools for nonprofit, faith-based, and political organizations of all sizes. When she’s not working at Qgiv, Abby can usually be found writing for local magazines, catching up on her favorite blogs, or binge-watching sci-fi shows on Netflix.