3 myths pastors believe about church giving technology

SYSTEM OF GENEROSITY_2Imagine a church experience where the pastor stands before the congregation, casting a vision. There’s a family in need. A building needs repairs. A project requires a bit more funding. All the things that your church loves to get behind because it makes a huge difference in the community.

By Chris Heaslip

Giving information is shared on the screen in the form of a text-engagement code or custom URL, and immediately members begin to donate through their phones in as little as 10 seconds. As they walk out of the service, they can donate at kiosks in the foyer, where trained staff are present to answer any questions. In addition, when they arrive home, they have the ability to give just as easily whenever they are inspired during the week. It could be as they walk the dog, have their morning devotions, or attend a small group. The process is simple, easy to understand, and uniform across all platforms.

The best part is that administrators, in real time, can see donations and easily get information into your church database.

Unfortunately, an experience like this is still the exception rather than the norm.

After working with and surveying more than 1,000 churches, we identified an amazing correlation between giving technology and church generosity. The problem was not so much with the passion as it was with the system. Using these conversations with pastors and our own survey data, we’ve compiled three myths that many believe about church giving technology. Our hope with sharing these is that they might inspire you to have a conversation with your church team about your own giving practices.

GENEROSITYMyth #1: The cause can overcome the hurdles

As much as we want to do the right thing, there are many times when we just don’t. It’s not for lack of desire; it’s more about how easy the bad option was for us to take.

As an example, I’ve known for years that I need to start eating healthier. I think about it all the time. I do the research. But, when I’m in the middle of a busy week, I still find myself reaching for a Red Bull.

I know that a healthy smoothie would achieve the same energy boost effect for me, but making a smoothie is so much work. I have to get out the blender, find a knife, cut the fruit, portion things correctly — oh my goodness, I’m getting tired just thinking about it.

But, if someone set a smoothie down in front of me, would I drink it over a Red Bull? Absolutely.

The same principle applies to giving technology. We can have the greatest cause in the world, but if giving is too difficult, most people won’t make it all the way to the “submit payment” option.

In fact, our research shows that up to 85 percent of mobile users will abandon a donation if the giving process takes longer than 30 seconds. For online forms, with every click, you lose 10 percent of your potential givers.

How many seconds does your giving process take? How many clicks are involved? Do givers have to refill all the fields each time (name, address, credit card, etc.), or does your form pre-fill those?

Increase generosity by removing the hurdles. In other words, put the smoothie down right in front of them.

Myth #2: People are too scared to regularly send money using their phones

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According to Pew Research, 91 percent of the world’s population has a cell phone. That’s a crazy number. And in the United States, 56 percent of cell phone users have a smartphone, with that number increasing exponentially as you look at Americans 34 and younger.

MIT Technology Review recently reported, “Smartphones are spreading faster than any technology in human history.”

How many in your congregation now use their phone or tablet in place of a paper Bible? How many use their phone to check email immediately following the service? Conducting a majority of our social and business interactions on mobile devices has become commonplace.

It’s time to stop viewing mobile devices as a distraction and instead look at them as an opportunity.

We live in a society where we use mobile phones for a large portion of simple online transactions, including purchasing music on iTunes, funding projects on Kickstarter, or giving by text to disaster relief causes.

The fear of mobile payments is gone for most people; instead, it has moved to the far end of the spectrum, where they prefer to use their phone simply because of the speed and ease.

Does your church currently offer a mobile giving solution? Can members contribute by text message?

We even recommend visiting your own church’s website on your phone, and try to navigate through the giving process. How many times did you have to pinch and zoom? How frustrated did you get? How much time did it take to enter in all those credit card numbers?

Increase generosity by embracing the smartphone rather than avoiding it.

Myth #3: Your administrative team can just “make it work”

Probably the biggest mistake we’ve seen when working with churches is the piece-by-piece approach. They understand they need new giving technology, so they go out and secure an online giving form.

But then, members of the congregation say how much they would love to be able to text and give. So the church quickly secures a text vendor. Great!


While it might be great for the end user, things are not always so rosy when we work our way back to the desks of the administrative team. Decisions that are made piece by piece can often neglect the amount of work that is required on the backend.

Not even the most dedicated and faithful bookkeeper (as hard as he or she tries) can keep these scattered databases accurate — let alone other important elements, such as passwords and training documents.

Chris Heaslip is CEO of Pushpay and eChurchPushpay is the 10-second mobile giving solution. Ninety-percent who download the app, give with it; 45 percent of gifts happen on days other than Sunday; and the average gift size is $176. Continue the conversation with Heaslip on Twitter.


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