We all want to attract new people to worship and minister in our congregations, don’t we? But there are roadblocks that we’re often blind to. One of those roadblocks is financial.
Many people don’t have a checking account or carry cash anymore. Especially younger generations. I’m not talking about teens. This is often true of those in their twenties, thirties, forties and older.
If you want them to be actively involved in your congregation you must be prepared for them – and financial giving is one aspect of that. You can’t wait until they show up to be ready to receive their gifts.
It’s Not About The Money
Money isn’t the reason we want new people at church, it’s because they matter to us and to Jesus – and because they bring a vital energy, helping propel us to a better future.
But when we don’t feature e-giving we unintentionally devalue them and their contributions. It tells them “If you want to participate, you have to do it our way.”
Everyone else is already on this train, from the smallest businesses to friends splitting the lunch check. We need to be on board.
This article may seem reeeeally late to the game. After all, according to recent reports, over 74 percent of churches offer e-giving options. But that means 26 percent do not. That’s a lot of churches. Most are probably small and/or rural. If that’s you, please hear me out. You need to do this.
At first, it will be an added expense. But it will be worth it.
According to the article, Church Giving Statistics & Trends To Know for 2021, more people give electronically than by any other means. Plus, the stats tell us, “adding an online giving option increases overall church donations by 32%.”
If you’ve been thinking about setting up e-giving, but don’t know how to start, here are 10 helpful steps.
1. Use a platform designed for churches
This article is not a promotion for any specific e-giving program, so I won’t even suggest one to you, but be sure the program is specifically designed for churches. Thankfully, there are a lot to choose from.
Start by asking your pastor-friends what program they use. If you’re in a denomination, check with them about possible group rates.
2. Don’t go cheap
The old saying, “you get what you pay for” is true. Especially in this arena. Our church learned this by going with a bare-bones program at first, but we quickly switched over to one that was much more robust.
Most full-service programs have multiple options from simple to extravagant, allowing you to move up or down as your needs change. But don’t go too bare-bones. It’s more hassle than it’s worth, for both the giver and the church.
3. Offer, but don’t push the “help cover expenses” option
Most e-giving programs cost a flat monthly fee, plus just under 3 percent off each transaction. When people sign up, there’s often a prompt that asks them if they’d be willing to cover the transaction fee themselves, instead of charging it to the church.
It’s great to give people that option, but don’t make a big deal about it.
4. Consider the program’s extra options
Most e-giving programs offer additional services like bookkeeping, tracking, payroll services, and more. Since these platforms are built for churches (see point #1) they’ll have a head start about tax laws for nonprofits and so on. As life, ministry and finances get more complicated, it’s often a very wise decision. Look into it.
5. Mention it every time you receive an offering
Even if you still pass a plate or have a drop-box in the lobby, the e-giving option should be mentioned every time you receive an offering.
6. Take advantage of free training
Any e-giving program that’s worth using has free tutorials, help-lines and training to help you and your ministry team understand the new program.
Yes, the tutorials are free. Why? Because without it, a lot of churches will get frustrated and stop using their service. Take advantage of the help.
7. Help members get set up
Once e-giving is set up, most younger people will use it intuitively. But every church has people, both young and old, who won’t know how to set it up.
First, you should always be ready to receive cash and checks, so many of your current givers won’t need to change a thing. Second, take the first few weeks (maybe a couple of months) to have a helper available in the church lobby after every service for those who want to switch.
Use the free tutorials (see point 6) to make sure the helpers are fully trained to do this.
8. Feature it online
Your e-giving option should be featured in everything you do online. From your church website, to social media, everything should have a “Give Here” tab.
9. Use it yourself
The best way to get comfortable with anything is to use it yourself. Take the time to work through the learning curve.
Yes, pastor, this means you! By doing this, you’ll discover what works and what doesn’t. Then you’ll be better able to walk others through it and know how to answer their questions.
10. Be patient
This will be frustrating at first. Any new technology has a learning curve.
When ATMs first arrived, they were confusing to a society that was used to human tellers. Before that, checks were more confusing than cash. Before that, paper money wasn’t trusted over gold and silver. And so on.
Discomfort is normal. But it should never stop us from moving forward, being ready to meet people where they are, and creating opportunities for generosity.
(Photo by Cafe Credit | Flickr)