Whether the Covid-19 pandemic forced you to adopt online giving or you’ve had it for a while, you’ve probably come to realize that digital giving has taken over traditional methods of tithes and offerings. But did you know that most churches are actually overlooking important factors dealing with their online giving? This results in a significant loss of giving potential which ultimately impacts your church.
Here are six things you’re probably overlooking when it comes to online giving
1. Monthly Subscription and Processing Fees
Is free really free?
Free software is a tempting offer. While it may appear to be the most bang for your buck to use a subscription-free software, that may not always be the case. There’s another very important fee you need to be aware of – merchant processing fees. These are the fees that are associated with each transaction done through the platform. Different cards have different rates. So do different giving methods, like card transactions versus ACH/eCheck transactions. Most free platforms offer flat processing rates, but they are high processing rates.
So why does this matter? It’s still cheaper, right?
Most likely, you are paying more in merchant processing fees alone than you would if you went with a monthly subscription company. For example, SecureGive does have a monthly subscription fee that is determinate on the plan you select but we have the lowest merchant processing rates across all major online giving platforms. So while the monthly subscription isn’t free, you will save hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, a year on merchant processing fees. Guaranteed.
Ultimately, you’ll be saving more money with lower fees than by forgoing a monthly subscription.
2. Diversity and Comprehensiveness
People like options.
Different people are going to want to give in different ways. Just as some like to buy their clothes in a store, others from their computer, and others in an app on their phone, people are more likely to give if they can do it in a way that feels natural and comfortable to their specific preference. By implementing a variety of online, mobile, text, kiosk, and in-service giving, you allow your donors the ability to give whenever, wherever, and however they’d like. The Johnsons can give online during their summer vacation. Mrs. Smith can text to give when she forgets her purse at home. The Allens are reminded to give by seeing a kiosk in the lobby.
While online and mobile giving options are great, kiosks are the most preferred way to donate for first-time givers. Placing a kiosk in your church lobby, not only diversifies your giving options but it is also a visual reminder for people to give. By having comprehensive giving methods and visual reminders for your members to donate, your giving potential will increase.
3. Donation Categories
It’s a fact, people are more inclined to give when they feel like they are a part of something.
Caring for and serving others is at the heart of Christianity. Givers want to know that their money is going to more than just paying operational costs for the facility. Givers want to see the funds they give to the ministry help rebuild a single mother’s home that was just lost to a fire. Givers want to see their money go to dream centers, where under-resourced teenage girls can pick out the perfect prom dress at no cost to them. Givers want to see their money paying off church debt so the ministry can truly flourish.
Givers want to know where their money is going and to be able to choose where those funds are directed. You can do this easily by establishing multiple giving categories with your online platform. Set up a category for tithes, debt reduction, backpack giveaways, child sponsorship, etc. This will allow givers to choose where their money is going. As a bonus, if you have the ability, you can add a description to the donation category for givers to get a bit more information about each cause and how their donation is helping.
Multiple donation categories and descriptions allow donors to give to the causes the Lord places on their hearts and to know exactly how their funds are going to be used. This creates open and clear communication with donors, which will ultimately increase your giving potential by prompting more individuals to give.
4. Language Barriers
Don’t let language be a barrier to giving.
Language barriers could be preventing some of your members from fully embracing giving. Online giving can be difficult and scary to navigate for donors who are non-English speakers or do not have full mastery of the language.
Did you know 41 million people in the US speak Spanish as their primary language? Check to see if your software offers multi-language features. It’s an added bonus if your software will allow you to customize terms used across the site to best reflect the unique language and phrases of your church. These features give everyone the ability to be good stewards unto the Lord and removes an easy-to-avoid barrier to giving.
5. Customer Service
There’s nothing more frustrating than hearing Press 1 for Hours of Operation, Press 2 for Billing, Press 3 for Customer Service, especially when you have a question that requires timely attention.
Let’s say one of your givers has questions about their recurring transaction. Or your church accountant needs help reconciling the monthly donations. Or you have questions about using your giving software to issue giving statements. These scenarios need real time evaluation and results. If the answers and resolutions are not time efficient, the donor may abandon their online transaction, book-keeping records could be off, and features of the software designed to benefit your organization left unused. Evaluate your platform’s customer service to make sure a real person is answering every time and that the conversation is friendly, informative, and quick to offer results.
Going beyond help with questions, are you aware of what features your online giving offers? See if your current giving provider offers individual training calls to walk you through their tools and features. See if they offer marketing materials to promote online giving for donors. See if they will create a specific implementation strategy to ensure your church gets the most out of the digital giving services you pay for. Utilizing these additional resources will help you evaluate your current giving potential and create a plan to increase it.
6. Stewardship Resources
While giving tools are important, a culture of generosity runs deeper than what any software platform can offer. Before your congregation will fully utilize the different giving options you provide, they must first know how and why they should be a good steward. To help with this, find out if your giving provider has a team dedicated to helping you teach your church how faithfully manage what God has given them. This will promote growth in your giving like you’ve never seen. Creating a culture of generosity is hard and there’s no shame in needing a little help with it.
If you’re not sure what’s available to you, check with your provider to see what resources, and maybe evening coaching, they have. Ultimately, you don’t just need a software company, you need a ministry partner that helps you create a generous culture in your church.
Putting it into Practice
Recently, the leadership at a mega-church in Maryland used the above steps to examine their giving platform and donation options.They realized their platform was not able to keep up with the growing infrastructure of their church. There were holes, software features needed, and additional resources required to increase donation potential. So they gave SecureGive a call. Immediately after switching to SecureGive from the previous provider, they saved over $10,000 from merchant processing fees and subscriptions for the year. They found the tools they needed to engage more donors in their church. With the stewardship resources offered, the church has been able to grow and continue to strengthen the culture of generosity, increasing giving potential even more.
Take the time, evaluate the digital giving tools your church is using, and see if you’re overlooking important factors that could be helping your giving grow. And if you find your current digital giving provider isn’t passing the test, don’t wait. Make a change today that can start growing your giving.