Last October I started a series to look at ways you can effectively compete and WIN the battle for contributions. Do you not think you are in a competition for charitable dollars? You might want to review these statistics. It is not simply a checklist of things you can work on for two weeks and move on. But instead, it will require a significant amount of time and energy. For many of you, this may mean a complete rework of how you currently approach stewardship and generosity in your church.
Part One was devoted to Mission
Part Two was devoted to Communication
Part Three considered “Donor Stewardship”
This issue looks at Options for Receiving Gifts…Making it Easy for your donors to give to your organization.
First and foremost – because this series is about competing for the charitable dollar, most non-profits are offering an online giving solution to receive gifts from their constituency. Don’t think so? Pull up their websites and have a look. Online giving options are everywhere.
To my amazement, the conversation with churches over whether to offer online giving still meets with resistance from some who do not feel it is necessary. One lay leader recently told me that he strongly disagreed with my statement “Your church makes it difficult for some to be generous.”
They take the offering the way most churches have taken the offering for years – by passing an offering plate or basket during worship services. And that’s the only way one can make a gift, without stopping by the church office or mailing in a check during the week.
So why do I say this makes it difficult for some to be generous? Consider the younger generation. They have a bank account – it may even be called a checking account – but most do not carry or use checks. They do not carry much (if any) cash. Their entire financial life is built around debit and credit cards. (I might add that I am not part of the younger generation, but I do not carry a checkbook or much cash – aren’t we all moving in this direction at some pace?)
So when the offering plate is passed during your worship service, if we don’t have/use a checkbook and we forgot to go by the ATM to get cash, we can’t participate in the offering. At least not at the financial level God is leading us toward. We would love to think we will remember next week, AND bring the appropriate amount for that week and this, but realistically that is not happening.
Online giving is one solution of several to consider. It is easy to setup today, inexpensive to administer and interfaces with your current church management software for easy bookkeeping.
Finding a provider is not difficult; there are a number of reputable service providers out there. Check with you peers to learn who they are using. Here is a short list to get you started. Fees and services vary widely so search for the best mix of each:
Google and PayPal both offer free online giving options, but I am not a strong proponent of their services. I find them to be too cumbersome for the one-time donor to navigate and many may opt-out before completing the process of filling out all the required fields. You leave your ministry’s website and are taken to Google or PayPal’s site where you are asked to log in if you have an account, or create an account if you don’t.
I do not even recommend trying their free services as a “trial” run for that reason. You will not be getting a true “read” on online giving effectiveness if some of your people try it, get frustrated and opt-out. They may decide never to try it again. In fact, that might damage your efforts when you finally decide to go with a true full-service provider that offers a more stream-lined option that is embedded within your own site’s look and feel.