Bravo for online giving! (dhanelle@pixabay)
I recently got one of those emails that I love receiving: “I’m retiring soon and I’d like to set up the person who follows me for success. We still don’t have online giving. Can you help me figure out how to make it happen?”
Let me first say, BRAVO! Not only to tackling online giving, but for being so kind to the person who follows you. Again, BRAVO!
This person also indicated that some folks still weren’t sure that online giving was the way to go.
Here are a four things to remember about the importance and reality of online giving:
1. Fewer and fewer people use checks. People aren’t taught how to write a check these days – let alone have a reason to write one.
2. Most individuals rarely mail things (and during COVID, how else will you get those checks?). Yesterday, a woman mentioned that her 21-year-old son was searching for a stamp. When he found some old ones, he asked, “Do those numbers on the stamp indicate miles?” Fair enough question! For a chunk of people writing an envelope, finding a stamp, and trudging to the post office are hassles they’d rather avoid.
3. Credit and debit cards are the preferred method of payment. In a 2019 study by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, 51% of people made payments using a credit or debit card, compared to 6% who paid with checks, and 26% who paid with cash (and almost all cash transactions were for purchases under $25).
4. Going with any online giving platform will cost you money. Nearly all companies will charge you a transaction fee. They will also charge you a flat monthly fee. Before you delve into this, be sure your finance committee (or whomever will be giving you the green light) has their head wrapped around this basic fact. It’s the CODB – the Cost of Doing Business.
On the other hand, offering online giving might be the very thing some of your people need to inspire them to be more generous.
I’m not gonna lie. Setting up an online giving system can feel and be daunting.
First, determine which company is right for you. Here are some reviews of companies to help in that endeavor:
7 Top Online Giving Companies for Churches (from 2019)
The Best Online Giving for Small Churches (2020 – this article helps support the “why” small churches should invest in online giving)
4 Inexpensive Online Giving Solutions for Small- and Mid-Sized Churches (2016 – I’ve checked and all four companies are still in business)
Secondly, find someone who will “make it happen.” This may not be your forte (it’s definitely not mine). Be prepared for an investment of time to get everything looking just the way you want it. The company you decide to go with will walk you through the process (because it’s in their best interest that you’re happy). However, expect the tech savvy person you find to help you to set aside eight hours to ensure everything is up and running. If it takes less time – super. It may well be worth your time, not to mention your mental health, to hire someone for this particular task.
Third, after your giving site goes live, find someone at your church who knows how your giving platform works. Like most things in life, this is not a one and done thing. Find a person who will take this on and maintain and update your online giving site as needed.
Finally, market your online giving. Be sure you announce it during worship, in newsletters, and on your website. You are trying to make it easy for people to be generous. You want to let people give in a way that is most meaningful for them. Let them know.
Remember: Online giving is not just for mega-churches. Small churches need it too. Set your congregation up for success by making giving easy. If you do, you just might hear “Bravo!” The cheers will be well deserved.
For more see: Digital Giving: The New Normal, Part 1
and Digital Giving: The New Normal, Part 2: Start the Conversation