The easier it is for people to give the more they will give! This is one reason why for the last 100 years giving to the church has led all charitable giving. Every week we pass a plate or basket by our main supporters making it easy for them to give. Now however the very tool that brought success is undermining the future financial stability of the church. How could that be? Americans have changed the way they do commerce and fewer carry a checkbook and they have little to no cash upon them. So now rather than the plate making it easy for members to give it is actually harder.
How many checks do you write a month? Most of us only write a few if any. I once had a pastor admit that he only wrote one a month, to his church! Consider these facts
Over the past decade, online bill payment has increased 800%
Paper check usage has declined from 61% of all payments in 2000 to the low 20% mark today.
Online charitable giving has doubled every year and continues to rise.
70% of Millennials prefer to give online.
Churches that refuse to offer online giving will see their revenue decline significantly! Studies are showing that the percentage of incomes that Americans give to the church has fallen from 3.11% in 1968 to around 2% today. If the rate of decline continues by 2050 the percentage will be at 1%. Billions of dollars are lost every year!
Online use in churches is increasing but we have a long way to go. Studies are hard to come by. The last definitive study was done by LifeWay Research in 2011 and they found that only 14% of American churches offered online giving. Other less scientific studies have been conducted, including my own, and that number is certainly on the rise. Yet we are still far from where we need to be.
To help your church be fully funded this year it is essential that you have an online giving platform. However it is not enough simply to have a tool. You must use it and use it correctly. One of the biggest mistakes churches make AFTER they set up online giving is not launching it correctly.
I tell people all the time that I have a great lawn mower but if I don't get it out of the shed and crank it up my lawn does not get mowed. Here is how to use online giving effectively
Know the process yourself. You cannot move your congregation to use this tool if you don't use it yourself. If you use it so will your members!
Make giving button easy to find & access. I am often shocked at how hard it is to find online giving on some websites. While it doesn't have to be a flashing blue light it must be visible and easily accessible.
Set a kickoff date. Set a time to officially kick off the launch. This will give you time to announce the site and "market" it to your members.
Build a plan of action for gaining online gifts. Think of multiple ways to tell the story about the benefits of online giving. Use all your communications outlets from direct mail, email, Social Media posts, bulletin inserts, QR codes in the bulletin, videos and platform communication. Talk about it so that people will know about it!
Work your plan! As with all stewardship plans I say, "Get a plan and work your plan."
Don't stop working your plan! Don't stop after the launch. The more you talk about it the more people will use it.
Using the above points any church can effectively launch online giving. Online giving is the future of giving to the church and the future is now!