How one church increased its online giving from 6% to 14%
In June 2013, Pete Blum, CPA — business director and associate pastor at Eastridge Church in Issaquah, WA — received a phone call from a company called Pushpay regarding a new digital giving platform he might be interested in. “I told him he had two minutes to sell me on their platform,” Blum recalls. “And he did.”
Using this platform, the first gift (made by phone, online or even by kiosk) requires a sign-in, which takes about 45 seconds. After that, givers receive a text-message invitation to download an app. From that point on, gifts can be made via cellphone in 10 seconds or less.
At the time, Blum was finishing up a mobile app for the church and was looking for an online-giving option he could integrate. “It was perfect timing, really.”
Since that day, he has learned a lot about rolling out a digital giving platform. Here, he shares his church’s story.
What kinds of giving options were you offering to the congregation at the time you rolled out digital giving? Do you still offer them all?
Blum: At the time, we were offering online giving — Web-based — through our management software database. It was a bit cumbersome for me, so I can imagine the experience our givers were having.
At that point, online giving represented about 6 percent of our church’s total gifts.
Today, we offer four different ways to give: paper envelopes; mobile giving via smartphone; online giving; and text giving (via eChurchGiving), which is currently in progress. We suspect our members and guests who like to text will love this last option.
What strategies were key in effectively rolling out the new giving option?
Blum: We regularly message the availability of mobile giving to our congregation. At every weekend service, we do live announcements about it, as well. Scriptures about giving are shared before the offertory time, after which we share the availability all the different giving options.
Although Pushpay does offer videos and other tools to make givers aware of the digital giving option at the church, we have a very good video production team in-house. We wanted our communications to the congregation to have a consistent look and feel with the rest of our communications; so, we produced the videos ourselves.
What kinds of giving results have you seen?
Blum: Mobile giving now represents approximately 14 percent of all gifts.
Within six to eight months of integrating the mobile giving app, that same URL was realizing for online giving, too.
We estimate that active members of our church attend services at about 45 of 52 weekends per year. We’ve found there’s a lot of recurring giving potential with our digital giving platform. For people who prefer to give on a reoccurring basis, we encourage them to drop an envelope in the offering plate and state that “we gave online.” That way, they can participate in the act of giving during the worship service.
How do you envision digital giving integrating into your church’s growth and future?
Blum: We feel it will, over time, engage those people who aren’t currently engaged during the offertory time — that “peripheral pool” — since it’s a 24/7 opportunity to give. It’s a tool we simply must have in place to meet changing needs.
Currently, we’re exploring an idea of a “church on the move” model — basically, an online church experience, including live chat with pastors. The idea is that even if an individual can’t physically be here, they can still be part of our church family. Digital giving will be integral.
What advice would you give to other pastors who are considering implementing a digital giving platform?
Blum: Finding the solution in a digital giving platform is one thing; implementing it is another.
Church leadership has to get behind it. You’ve got to have a marketing plan; at our church, social media has proven to be a great resource in this respect.
— Reporting by RaeAnn Slaybaugh