As the Director of Business Development for a faith-based online and mobile giving provider, I spend most of my days talking with pastors and church leaders about the ways in which technology can transform the “giving culture” at their churches.
During these conversations, I am often struck by how hesitant many church leaders are to engage with digital giving tools. Despite the fact that less than 7% of transactions in the United States are conducted via cash and check, many thousands of churches continue to count on cash and check donations for 100% of their annual budget.
Even more frustrating is the fact that so many of the “objections” raised toward online giving are not really objections as well. They’re simple misunderstandings about the nature, cost, and impact of online giving. I call them “myths” because I believe there is a clear and compelling answer to each one of them. Here are some of the most common ones I’ve heard. Do any of them sound familiar?
Myth #1: Online Giving Is Expensive
The reasoning goes something like this: “We want to be good stewards of our finances, and we don’t feel comfortable paying fees to collect gifts we could be getting for free.”
But that’s just it. The only reason online giving exists is because there are a ton of potential gifts that churches are not getting “for free.” (i.e. In the plate on Sunday morning.) They’re not getting them period! It is for this reason that implementing online giving has been consistently linked to increases in overall giving. Digital tools allow churches to connect with disengaged givers and to pave the way for current givers to give more and more often.
When viewed in this light (i.e. new giving), gifts received online do not add up to $97.00 or $99.00 of a gift that would have been $100.00. Rather, they represent $97.00 or $99.00 of a gift that would have been $0.00. Suddenly those processing fees start to sound like a bargain!
Myth #2: Online Giving Is Only For Young People
The old stereotype that technology is essentially “a young person’s game” still holds sway in many churches. And it’s true – the young people in your church will likely be quick to embrace whatever digital giving options are made available. BUT…they’re not the only ones.
The “mature givers” in your congregation have come a long way since 2000. They’re paying their bills online, emailing their friends, and Facebooking their grandkids. And yes, many of them (over half!) are donating to charities online as well. Just look at these numbers:
- 77% of adult Americans between the ages of 50 and 64 use the Internet at least once a week. (The percentage for adults over the age of 65 is a still-impressive 54%.)
- 66% of adult Americans use the Internet to pay their bills.
- 59% of donors over the age of 60 gave a gift online in 2014.
Even better, since mature givers typically give much larger donations than Millennials, the gains you stand to make with this demographic are even greater than with the younger people in your church.
Myth #3: PayPal Is A Cheap and Effective Solution For The Church
With credit card processing fees of only 2.2% + $0.30, PayPal is still one of the cheapest giving solutions available. But – like so many things in life – when it comes to online giving, you get what you pay for.
PayPal is a fine solution for simply sending money from Point A to Point B. But what about all of the other things you need from your online giving platform? What about embeddable giving forms? What about multiple giving funds to direct donations toward different ministries within your church? What about personalized customer service from someone who knows and understands the needs of your church.
For this level of personalized attention and functionality, you will be much better served by partnering with a platform built with your church’s needs in mind. (Like Mogiv.)
Myth #4: Our Church Isn’t Ready For Online Giving
When reviewing online giving options, many churches continue to drag their feet for no other reason than simply: “We’re not ready for it yet.”
Not ready for what? I always want to ask. Not ready for an additional 15 – 20% in overall giving? Not ready to engage with givers under the age of 30? Not ready to minimize the “summer giving slump” and other seasonal dips in giving? Not ready for automated giving to turn occasional “tippers” into consistent tithers?
Maybe you preach about financial stewardship a couple times a year. Maybe you include regular financial updates in your bulletin. Maybe you deliver a moving exhortation to give before the offering each week. All of those things are great. But if you’re not offering online giving, you’re missing out on the single biggest thing you can be doing to improve the financial health of your ministry.
Which begs one final question: if you’re not ready now, when will you be?