How to Set Up Online Giving
In this time when we are called to refrain from physically gathering at our churches for worship, it is important to remember that God continues to call us to be in relationship and to give. Giving reminds us that we are not alone. It reminds us that we are part of a community that needs our gifts and offerings. You have the opportunity to provide consistent financial stewardship for your congregation in several ways, even though we cannot be physically present with one another.
First, people can continue to offer their gifts by check through the mail. Also, though, consider taking this important time in our life together as an opportunity for members and community friends to explore new and exciting ways to give to your church!
Here’s an announcement you may adapt:
“During these unprecedented times, we are called into community in unprecedented ways. Your financial gifts to your church’s name are of vital importance to support our ongoing ministries and our outreach to the most vulnerable among us. Please continue to offer your faithful gifts by mailing your check to our church office (be sure to include the office mailing address in your signature line), or through our online giving options.
Options for Online Giving
Your Church Management System provider should have options for online giving. Some of the more common systems are:
- Network For Good
- Donate Kindly
You can use the tool found here to compare potential giving fees between the different platforms.
Articles of Interest
- What is Online Giving and Why Does Your Church Need It
- Tithing over Text
- Phasing into Digital Giving
- Online Giving Fundamentals for Churches by Church Tech Today
- Electronic Giving’s Role in Creating a Sustainable Ministry by VANCO
- ECF: Digital Giving – Models and Tools for Fundraising Online
- Choosing a Mobile Giving App
Tell me more about electronic giving at church…
What if our older parishioners don’t give electronically?
According to the 2016 Burk Donor Survey, the percentage of donors who choose to give electronically no longer varies significantly across generations. This means that it’s the perfect time to talk about convenient electronic giving options to augment our usual giving opportunities so that everyone can fully participate and provide their offerings to God in the way that works best for them.
What are our options?
Electronic check, credit cards, debit cards, text-to-give and mobile giving apps are some of the ways people in your church can give electronically. None of these options are meant to change the experience we have as we come together to give our offerings to God, but the reality is that the way we handle our money has changed rapidly in the past few years and we need to do what we can to remove barriers to our giving from our modern wallets.
Where do we start?
Likely you already have some parishioners who send you their offering using electronic checks, as this doesn’t require a transaction fee or additional software interface. Electronic checks are sent from an individual’s bank account to your church. People can set up a payment as a one-time gift or a recurrent offering and checks are mailed from a centralized processing center. Electronic checks, or online banking, also give your church a consistent offering throughout the year and help you bypass the summer slump.
Credit cards and debit card
Credit cards and debit card processing is ubiquitous in our culture yet is new to most of our church culture. This may also require some additional thought and preparation. First of all, some churches choose to provide education regarding debt instruction so that parishioners are well aware of the nature of the credit card debt.
Credit and debit card processing also requires use of a processing agent which will charge a transaction fee. Fees vary widely so check carefully. The first place to start is to find out if your database’s financial module includes credit card processing. If you use ACS, for example, you already have access to VANCO, which is also one of the standalone credit card processing options. So, check and see if you already have access to a processing network within your current system.
If you don’t, then you can look at other suppliers. VANCO and PayPal provide credit card processing but little else. Parishioners set up an account with their personal information including their credit card and they can make one-time or recurring gifts. The interface options are limited and bare-bones.
Some things you’ll want to think about are the ease of use of the platform. Almost everyone has used PayPal at some point in their online shopping experience, so if you are looking for a place to begin that will be a low threshold start for your church PayPal might be that option.
Additional interface options give your church the opportunity to provide electronic giving options while also telling more of your own narrative. Whether you use Network for Good, which provides a flexible template system, a flat and low transaction fee for non-profits, and integrates wonderful key features – including an auto-generated receipt, a prompt on the backend to generate additional Thank You communications, and social sharing – or SecureGive, which creates a branded online giving portal with optional kiosks and mobile app integration upgrades for churches that might want additional flexibility.
Text to Give
Text giving is no longer so expensive that only super-large non-profits (like the Red Cross) can afford to utilize the platform. Tithe.ly, Pushpay, SecureGive, EasyTithe, Givelify and others are text to give platforms configured specifically for churches. MobileCause, NetworkForGood and others can be branded for any organization, and have both made text giving easy and affordable.
Text giving not only allows you to collect donations from anywhere people have a phone available to them using the text-to-give keywords, but also allows you to engage with younger generations, as well as people that may have unstable addresses, where sending them regular mailings is problematic.
Mobile Giving Apps
According to Nonprofits Source, giving through mobile devices grew by 205% in 2018. A significant part of this growth is due to mobile apps, which are offered by numerous church giving software programs. These mobile apps offer a simple and convenient path to meeting many of our members where they are.
Venmo is a popular platform for individuals to send money directly and simply. From worship offerings to collecting funds for youth ski trips, churches are extending paths for those who use Venmo to also include giving to church ministries. If you have wondered about how to move into electronic giving easily, explore this platform with your community to see if it’s a match.