When it comes to online giving at churches, it’s all about speed, simplicity and scheduling.
By Kent Woodyard
Before we get to the bad news, let’s take a moment to celebrate how far The American Church (corporate) has come with regards to embracing new giving technologies. Whereas a mere 14% of churches offered online giving in 2011, by 2015 that number had ballooned to 42%.
While it’s true that churches still lag behind the 70% of traditional nonprofits who provide digital giving options for their supporters, a nearly 30% jump in four years is still cause for celebration.
Now, the bad news …
It’s true that more and more churches are realizing that online giving is more than a passing fancy. Even so, there is still a tremendous amount of variability in the quality of giving options provided by churches.
What’s true with coffee shops, rental car agencies, and hamburgers holds true for giving platforms as well: Not all of them are created equal. There is a big difference between throwing a PayPal button onto a forgotten corner of your church’s website versus providing a functional and user-friendly giving experience that will actually make it easier for your members to give.
This distinction is important because of what we’re talking about. We’re talking about the resources that finance your ministry! The choice you make with your giving platform will have a real-world impact on your church’s bottom line. The delta between a “better-than-nothing” solution and a solution which is uniquely suited for your congregation could be the difference in hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars each month.
So, it’s important to get it right
That much we can all agree on.
But, with so many tools and so many providers to choose from, it can often be difficult to navigate the ever-changing digital giving landscape. There are more variables than we have time to discuss here; but, if you focus on the three criteria below (a.k.a., “The Three ‘S’s”), you can rest assured that you’re at least on the right track.
- Speed — A recent test performed by a popular pastor / blogger revealed that it takes more than three minutes to give a gift to some of the largest churches in America! (For comparison, it takes fewer than 60 seconds to give to the average presidential candidate.) It is impossible to overstate the importance of speed when it comes to online giving. If it takes more than 60 seconds to submit a gift on your website, you are going to be losing givers; the only question is how many.
- Simplicity — Closely related to speed is the topic of simplicity. The best giving solutions on the web have removed every extra field, extra step or extra click. Are you asking people to enter info that you don’t absolutely need? Cut it out! Your giving page is NOT the place to be filling out your church management database. Ask for only the info you need to submit the gift; you can always circle back later for additional details. This is especially true when it comes to creating accounts. Nothing frustrates me more than when I see churches asking would be givers to first create a username and password, and to then come back later to complete their gift. Just let the people give!
- Scheduling — Of all the many benefits online giving can provide to churches, the ability to automate giving from week-to-week and month-to-month is by far the most significant. How significant? Some nonprofits have reported that their monthly giving has doubled without adding even a single giver. Not only does scheduled giving allow your givers to be more consistent with their giving — even when they’re not able to attend church in person — it also allows your team to more easily budget and plan for future revenues. A true win-win!
Already have a digital giving solution in place at your church? Use this list to ensure that your church’s giving page is having the impact that it could (and should) be having.
Currently in the market for a giving solution? Perfect! The three points above should be on your list of “non-negotiables.” Use them to vet any platforms you’re researching. Your givers deserve a solution that checks all three of those boxes.
Kent Woodyard is the Director of Business Development for Mogiv, a multi-channel giving platform created specifically for pastors and churches. Mogiv allows attendees to create one-time and scheduled gifts from your church’s website and also offers the flexibility of an integrated text-giving solution. View a video demo here.