Expert advice for accommodating the next generation of generosity

NEW-SCHOOL GIVING OPTIONS ————————————————————————————————————

Eliot Crowther  |  Co-Founder  |  Pushpay

Designed as a fast, simple, secure, tactile — and fun — new-school giving option, Pushpay is distinct from other solutions in how it draws givers into the mobile experience, according to Co-Founder Eliot Crowther.

“We realize that it’s mobile giving which is encouraging a lot of the increase in a church’s budget,” Crowther explains. “So, we’ve designed our entire platform to funnel givers in that direction.”

Because givers expect simplicity, Crowther says user engagement and ease of use have been the targets for every step of the tool’s development. “We understand that a person’s desire to give shouldn’t be overcomplicated with sign-up or sign-in procedures,” he points out. “With Pushpay, new givers can make an initial gift and get set up very quickly, no matter which digital entry point they start with.”

Here’s more from Crowther.

PushpaySmartphone-copyWhen you hear the term “new-school giving,” what technologies and platforms come to mind right away?

There are many “new-school” giving options available through a range of platforms. People expect simplicity in their everyday lives, so Pushpay’s approach has been to create a simple and uniform experience across all the giving touch points of a church.

Our online and kiosk platforms feed straight into the mobile experience. And, after a fast initial setup, church members are then able to give in 10 seconds. It’s a little like iCloud in that you can expect to engage with the same experience across all your devices.

For churches, how critical is it to make giving easy?  

The importance of removing barriers to give is vital. We’re seeing a generation of givers coming through who’ve never written a check before. And, though they’re less likely to carry cash, they always have a mobile phone on them.

It shouldn’t matter if you’re in church or at home; you should be able to give whenever and wherever you feel moved to do so — without having to jump over barriers. We’re seeing a remarkable statistic that shows 39 percent of giving through Pushpay happens on days other than Sunday. This is where our church partners are seeing dramatic increases in generosity from both new and existing givers.

Are there any hard-data figures or research that speak to the giving opportunities that could be lost if the giving process is too complicated?

If mobile giving takes longer than 30 seconds, 85 percent of people will abandon the transaction. That’s why we’ve designed our mobile solution to take just 10 seconds to complete.

pushpayvideoFurthermore, a recent survey showed that the average online giving experience for the 50 fastest-growing churches across America took more than three minutes to complete. This astounded us!

We figured we could tackle this problem and achieve two wins in the process. First, we could transform online giving so that it takes less than a minute to complete. Second, we could migrate those who give online into the world of mobile generosity. This is accomplished via an invitation text, which is sent after an online gift is completed.

This approach has been a game-changer. In fact, we’ve found that 35.4 percent of all people who give online will go on to download the app and give to their church that way.

What’s holding some churches back from offering new-school giving options?

There’s sometimes a resistance to something new. But most times, there’s a perception that it’s going to cost a lot to implement all this new technology.

While there are some fees associated with implementing a ministry-wide program such as Pushpay, the true value comes with a reduction in administration time and costs (through our integration with church databases) and the considerable increases in giving. So, the investment in this tool is a very small fraction of what a church sees back in cost savings and giving increase.

“We’ve seen our online transaction count double since switching to Pushpay, compared to the previous year [without the tool]. That’s a lot less internal processing to do, which is valuable for the time it saves us.” — Pastor Joshua Reeve, The Cause Community Church (Brea, CA)

If you could prescribe a recipe that drives optimal giving in a church, what would it include?

Make online giving simple. Simplicity is king. When somebody wants to give, they should be able to do that first, and then fill in a minimum of details after the fact. It has to be a pleasant experience.

For an example of how simple it can be, see this giving page. Here, Pushpay seamlessly integrates with ONEchapel’s online presence.

Have one solution at each touch point of a ministry. This makes sense for both the church and the giver. So, whether you prefer to line up for a kiosk, give online, or engage with a mobile app, your congregants’ needs are catered to.

Implement well. This last step is vital — our implementation teams are all ex-church staffers and understand what it takes to implement a new program in a church. They work with our partners to provide an optimal launch, continued support and tasteful promotion of the platform.

Any other thoughts to add about new-school giving options for churches?

There’s no doubt that the giving landscape is changing. We believe churches should be positioning themselves in such a way that they’re ready to encourage and support the next generation of givers.

— Reporting by RaeAnn Slaybaugh

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Doug Braun  |  Senior Vice President  |  inLighten

inLighten’s products encompass all the ways individuals can give and make payment — cash, check, credit/debit, online — in a single, integrated kiosk or tablet-based solution.

When I hear “new-school giving,” I think about …

inLighten-iGive-Digital-Donation-KioskTechnology that’s interactive, multifunctional and self-service. We translate that into touchscreen solutions — wall-mounted or mounted on a countertop or desk or as part of a freestanding kiosk — that accept all payment types (cash, check, credit/debit and online payment forms). These solutions should be accessible at all times.

It’s critical to make it easy for members to give because …

Giving at one time, in one place, won’t work for every member. Some want to come to the giving moment directly and intentionally; others will find their way to it spontaneously or incidentally. One certainty: If the opportunity is available at all times, participation will increase.

That’s where technology plays an important role. If the user experience is intuitive and comfortable, members and visitors will make it a habit to use these conveniences at church in the same way they’re using such technology in the other parts of their lives.

We know new-school giving options are effective because …    

Anecdotally, the visibility and accessibility of products such as giving kiosks at public events held in church facilities — concerts, athletics and community events — has driven donations at times when no overt call to give was made. It also enables churches to reach more visitors and invite them to learn more about the church.

Some churches haven’t offered new-school giving options because …

They don’t want to replace traditions. However, these tools add to them. They’re reflections of a much more mobile, technologically engaged portion of the membership.

If I could prescribe a recipe to drive optimal giving, it would include …

Adequate time for integration. Let congregants know what’s coming. Educate them on the advantages and benefits.

Eager, enthusiastic early adopters. You’ll want them front-and-center, helping less confident members learn how to use the products.
Around-the-clock, one-to-one assistance.

Conveying the differences the product has made is also critical — increased giving, more giving by visitors, increased event and activity registration, and so on.

My final advice for churches considering new-school giving options is …

They’re the result of the creative, imaginative, problem-solving impulse with which we’re all imbued by our creator. They express a desire to carry out the mission in a way that engages the world around us. They create connections where before there was disengagement.

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David Henke  |  Vice President – Sales & Marketing  |  MinistryLinq

MinistryLINQ offers a single-deposit capability for all payment types through its SmoothPay model. Another functionality — DonateQ — allows multiple giving pages with completely divergent theming, and easily supports different gift-scheduling options for each giving page.

When I hear the term “new-school giving,” I think about …

Solutions that fit donors’ lifestyles — by mobile phone, online or kiosk. They want an easy experience that allows them to give to areas of their choice.

QsuiteHome-MinistryLinq-pg24-26It’s critical to make it easy to give because …

Otherwise, a church risks losing donors to organizations that have made giving simple. For example, some options require givers to create an account first. The number of steps this entails can greatly impact how many donors actually complete a gift.

We know new-school giving options are effective because …    

The average gift using an American Express account is more than $400; gifts using other cards average $200 to $300. So, churches that don’t accept credit card donations because of the associated fees are missing out on a significant portion of revenue during year-end giving.

Additionally, a Giving Rocket survey of more than 1,000 churches found that only 14 percent exceeded budget. Among these churches, commonalities include an emphasis on recurring (automatic) giving and the availability of online giving, a personal finance ministry, giving kiosks and a quarterly financial report.

Some churches don’t offer new-school giving options because …

Aside from the fear of members incurring debt by accepting credit cards, churches want to avoid the fees associated with accepting gifts online. In reality, people forget to bring their checkbooks on Sunday, or they go on vacation and forget to mail their gifts. An automated system that allows eChecks never forgets to process a payment — even when a donor isn’t physically there.

If I could prescribe a recipe to drive optimal giving, it would include …

Six unique ways to communicate the giving program. Because it takes an average of six touch points before a giver understands the program, the first announcement should be from the pulpit. (“I’ve made an online gift — and if I can do it, anyone can.”)

Follow this with bulletin inserts, email campaigns, newsletters, fliers at the door, and more pulpit announcements.

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Tim Wall  |  Marketing Manager  |  LightCMS

LightCMS is an all-in-one content management system (CMS) platform. According to Marketing  Manager Tim Wall, a church whose website runs on this system gets the benefit of built-in online collection tools, plus the ability to easily integrate a website with virtually any online payment system.

LightCMSscreenshot-GiveCouncilRoadBaptistChurchWhen I hear “new-school giving,” I think about …

Online giving — but, that’s a broad topic with many different applications. The important thing is to find a solution that’s practical and appropriate for your church.

It’s critical to make it easy to give because …

Actually, giving is an act of obedience and sacrifice. No technology or tool is going to make it easy for people to give away their money. Rather, it’s the church’s job to facilitate giving, with tools that are practical for its members.

Some churches haven’t offered new-school giving options because …

They have legitimate concerns about how they’ll implement and support them, long term. With any new giving option, there will be hard costs for their implementation, plus costs related to personnel and support. While it’s possible these solutions can pay for themselves, it’s not a certainty. So, a church should consider its congregation’s likelihood of embracing and using them.

Many churches also have concerns about security. True, this must be a top priority; but, with the right measures in place, online giving can be much more secure than collecting physical offerings on-premises.

My final advice for churches considering new-school giving options is …

Just because something is trendy and new doesn’t mean it’s the right fit for your church. Consider the costs and benefits, and — most important — how likely your congregation is to use the technology.

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Stu Baker  |  Director of Sales  |  SecureGive

SecureGive — a pioneer in the next-generation-giving space — offers giving kiosks and has even created a church giving app in iTunes. “We live in a cashless society,” says Stu Baker, Director of Sales. “And giving shouldn’t be limited to those who carry cash or checks.”

When I hear “new-school giving,” I think about …

SecureGive-Giving-PlatformsMeeting donors where they are. We do this by providing giving kiosks, online giving, mobile giving and text-to-give applications. Our software allows donors to save their payment info, so they can give in just seconds. As our world grows more and more into a technically driven one, we believe the church should grow with it.

It’s critical to make it easy to give because …

If your systems aren’t easy or user-friendly, people won’t use them. Forgetting to stop by the ATM or bring the checkbook limits donors’ gifts to whatever cash is in their pockets — or stops them from giving altogether.

We know new-school giving options work because …

Most of our customers report a 20-percent or higher increase in giving. The average donation amount among church members is $175, compared to the $20 bill they might have in their wallet. And, just as important, 27 percent of our registered users are first-time givers.

Some churches haven’t offered new-school giving options because …

Often times, the costs of doing business can blind the vision of fully funding the ministry. But, there’s a reason why every thriving business in America accepts cards as a means of payment. Sure, there are costs involved — but the rewards far outweigh them.

If I could prescribe a recipe to drive optimal giving, it would include …

A roll-out plan. This includes simple announcements, graphics or handouts.  The goal is to notify donors that this giving option is available.

Consistency. At my church, we communicate the multiple ways to give every week.

Reinforcement. Our system has automated thank-you emails built in. Affirm and appreciate generosity, and let givers know they’re making a difference.

My final advice for churches considering new-school giving options is …

Embrace this technology. It means your church can reach more people and make a difference in your community. That’s what it’s all about.

 

 

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