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WEB-EXCLUSIVE: A new era of giving

Is your church taking advantage of today’s simplified donation options?

By Will Watrous

donateNot long ago, it was common for congregants to support their local churches with whatever means they had available — including livestock and produce. Thankfully, most church doors these days are kept open through financial donations.

While cash and checks have been the primary method of donations for many years, these forms of giving certainly have drawbacks:

  • Printing and handling paper envelopes takes time and money.
  • Theft of cash is an ever-present risk.
  • Completed envelopes can be hard to read and create duplicate information.
  • Entering written information into a database takes time and can create errors.

Today, technology allows people to support their church in a variety of ways. You might have seen giving kiosks in church lobbies, or churches processing credit card donations over the phone. Having more options to give is a good thing — and the decision to offer them often comes down to convenience.

Is it simple to give?

Sometimes, finances can be complicated. While it’s important to keep good records and to have accurate financial information, handling donations doesn’t have to be difficult. To that end, three of the most convenient and simple ways to give are:

Mobile applications. If your church has a smart phone app, this can be a great way to facilitate donations. Most app developers are able to work with third-party payment processors to accept donations right through your church’s app.

Text-to-give. Many churches are also taking advantage of text-to-give services, which allow members to text an amount of money. For example, the member would text “LFC 50” to the number 53424. Life Family Church (LFC) would then receive the $50 donation, minus processing fees.

This is very convenient. Rather than the amount being added to the member’s cell phone bill, it’s drawn from their credit card. Plus, your church can set up different codes for different donation projects.

Via church website. Finally, your church can accept donations securely on its website. One great benefit to this option is that members can choose to donate once or on a recurring basis. They choose how much to give, and then the payment system automatically processes their credit or debit card weekly, biweekly or monthly.

These newer means of accepting donations can make it easier on your financial team. All information is recorded digitally and can be used to create a variety of reports.

And, bonus! No more Monday morning runs to the bank to make a deposit.

Will Watrous is the founder of Watrous Media in Broken Arrow, OK, which helps businesses and nonprofits around the world develop and implement growth strategies.

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1 Comment for “WEB-EXCLUSIVE: A new era of giving”

  1. Keep in mind, electronic giving has its own drawbacks.
    – Electronic instructions from givers can be just as mistake prone as paper checks or envelopes. The difference is most electronic mistakes get executed, they don’t get caught before the transaction is completed or attempted
    – You really have to give some thought as to the user interface and instructions that go into your electronic giving options–flexibility often leads to the possibility of ambiguity, while offering hard wired choices limits flexibility. Example: Designations – how many categories will you have explicitly identified and what will you do about designations outside of those categories? Make an Other that they fill in, leaving open the possibility of ambiguity, or only a defined list that limits the giver?
    – Many churches struggle with whether or not to allow giving funded via credit cards. Some services accommodate churches that want to limit electronic giving to debit sources, others do not.

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