Whether it's through an app, a website, or text, online giving is a helpful tool for churches. Almost everyone in your congregation will have their smartphone with them in church, and many have handled at least one (if not several more) financial transactions using their phone.
If you have or haven't provided an online giving option yet, or you are switching your vendor, you’ll want to check out these tips that provide advice on best practices in this area.
Tip #1: Compare vendor pricing
Look carefully at the terms and rates for each vendor.
You'll likely see them charge a flat fee per month plus a percentage of each donation. Ask for a detailed list of all the fees they charge and if each is based on a flat rate or on a percentage. Calculate the full amount of what you may end up paying in a typical month before choosing a vendor.
Tip #2: Talk with your accountant
Don't select a vendor before talking with those who record the offering each week and handle the church's finances.
They'll need to know how potential vendors will send donation data, whether a vendor's system can integrate with the church's accounting software, and more. They're the ones helping you steward the church's finances, so make sure they'll get the information they'll need from your vendor.
Tip #3: Roll it out to a few people first
Have everyone on staff try the new online giving method before introducing it to the entire congregation.
If you have a few people on the team who aren't very tech-savvy, make sure they try it out. Gather their feedback on how easy (or not) it was to give, what instructions they needed, etc. Next, roll it out to a few people who're seen as leaders within your congregation. These are people who could help promote the new online giving tool to others.
Make sure they're happy with the tool and ask for their support as you roll it out to a broader audience.
Tip #4: Use training tools and information provided by the vendor
Most vendors provide training videos and documentation. Ask potential vendors what they provide to help you roll out the system to your congregation.
Do they give you slides, short training videos, or verbiage for handouts?
Also, talk with potential vendors about the training they'll offer your team. Your finance office will want detailed training on how to get data from the backend of their system into the church's accounting software. Any audit trail details would be good for them to know about as well.
Tip #5: Be intentional with the full roll out
Demonstrate how to use the app or text-to-give feature as you announce it on Sunday morning.
Show a brief video and provide instructions on-screen during your offering time. Also, have volunteers available in the lobby after service who can help people give online. Consider providing small group leaders or other volunteers with additional training. Then ask them to help people in their groups with giving online.
Remind people each week about the online giving options during your tithe and offering time. Post information about those options on the church website and social media channels as well.
Online giving is convenient for your congregation and beneficial to your church overall. Research online giving vendors, evaluate what they have to offer, and plan the rollout well to see the full benefits from this giving option.