"The question for churches is no longer 'Should we offer e-Giving,' but, 'What options will we offer?'"
e-Giving in Churches
In a recent Vanco Church Giving Study, one of the major findings was that “60% of overall churchgoers prefer giving electronically, and preferences toward e-Giving were strong across all ages groups.” A surprising finding of the study is that the more active people are in church, the more likely they are to want to give electronically. However, they do not see e-Giving as replacing traditional methods of giving (offering plate, for example). Rather, their motivation is that electronic giving helps them better help their church.
The survey does find a disconnect, though. Namely that there is a “sizeable giving gap between how churchgoers prefer to give and the options that churches offer.” Two to four times as many churchgoers (depending on age) would give electronically (computer, tablet, smartphone, text, or kiosk), if the option was made available to them.
Charitable giving in the U.S. continues to grow, and e-Giving is by far the preferred method. If your church isn’t taking advantage of this, another charitable institution is, and it may be your loss. The question for churches is no longer “should we offer e-Giving”, but “what options will we offer”?
There are several e-Giving options, and I discuss each below very briefly. These are listed in the order that I consider most essential. Not every church can offer every option – especially in the beginning – and each church needs to evaluate what they can feasibly provide.
Recurring payments: Promote and work with members to set up recurring payments through their bank. Usually called e-payment, many people already pay their bills this way. Encourage them to include the church in their e-payments. An added bonus is that it ensures regular income to the church.
Credit cards: Accept credit and debit cards through your website. There are two major ways to accomplish this. The first is to set up a system with your church’s bank. They will help you set this up, and give you the links you’ll need for your website. The banks charge a fee per transaction.
The second credit card option is to bypass the bank and set up an electronic giving account with a payment service. Some of the better known are PayPal, Vanco, Shelby Systems, and Automated Church Systems. There are fees for these also, and you want to also investigate how the money is transferred to your bank account and what kind of reports you will receive. If your church has a database system, look into what they offer. Consider mobile options and apps so that people can use their smart phones and tablets.
What to do about the fees? Some churches build this into their operating expenses (the added revenue from the convenience will often offset the fee). Other churches ask members to include their fee (2-3% usually) in their gift.
Giving kiosk: We just installed a kiosk at the church where I work, and it is very popular. The kiosk accepts credit and debit cards. People can make a payment on a pledge, offer a one-time gift, make a purchase, and even register for events. We were careful and intentional about publicizing the kiosk because we were not sure how it would be received. We even named it “Gracie” (our church is Grace & Holy Trinity Episcopal) to make it a bit less threatening. A picture of the publicity poster is included below.
Text to give: This is probably the easiest of the options for people with smartphones, and the one with the most possibilities to use in the context of worship and programs. You will need a text giving platform (software) to handle this type of giving.
e-Giving as Hospitality
Offering electronic giving at your church is an act of hospitality. Hospitable churches invite and welcome people; they help people development relationships; and they offer worship, services, and programs that honor today’s busy lifestyles. E-Giving will allow your church to do all of this. If you have questions about the above material, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below.
Carolyn Moomaw Chilton writes and blogs as a spiritual discipline and an invitation to conversation with others. You can follow her on Twitter @episcoevangel and Facebook as EpiscopalEvangelist. She is currently on staff at Grace and Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Richmond, Virginia as the Assistant for Evangelism and Stewardship.
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