The days of dropping a check or a wad of cash into the collection plate on Sunday are fading fast. More and more churches are moving to online giving, for the convenience of the congregants as well as the church staff. According to ChurchMag, check writing is going the way of the dinosaurs. 74% of Americans only write one check each month, and with tithing at new lows, it’s probable that the check isn’t coming to you. You need to adapt to make giving as easy as possible for the people in the pews. How can you make online giving simple enough for even the most technophobic among your congregation?
1. Button Up
This might seem obvious, but you must have a method of giving available on your website. Whether it’s a Paypal button or The Giving Spring, you need to have a donation option front and center, easily accessible as soon as someone clicks on your site. Keep it as simple as possible so that donors will not become confused and give up halfway through the process.
2. Remember Reminders
Email is one of nonprofit fundraising’s best tools, and you should adopt it immediately. It’s inexpensive, it’s easy, and it can be extremely effective. A carefully timed email with a gentle reminder about the church’s needs can be a great memory jog for your members. Texting can be useful, too, particularly for the younger members of the congregation. A simple questionnaire can allow members to choose the reminder method that they prefer, ensuring that you don’t inundate the congregation with pleas for money.
3. Make it Mobile
This really ties into the two previous suggestions; more and more people are checking email and surfing the internet on mobile devices, so it’s smart to make sure your website is mobile-friendly. Make the buttons larger, keep the steps necessary for donation to a minimum, and keep your site as clean and easy to read as possible.
4. Social Media Savvy
As a modern church, you probably have a social media presence, so use it to your advantage. Put a donation button somewhere prominent on your Facebook page, allowing for people who “like” your page to donate, should the spirit move them. You can do the same with your Twitter feed. Never miss a chance to give someone the opportunity to support the church.
5. Create a Crusade
Plan a fun campaign to encourage congregants to sign up for automated monthly donations. Highlight the ways the church uses the funds, with special speakers or videos of the ministries served by the donations, and wrap it up with a celebration, whether it’s a lunch after church or a party with music and games on a different night. Emphasize the convenience of automatic withdrawal, and encourage the people who’ve already signed up to share their positive experiences.
6. Mind Your Manners
Remember how your mom always made you write a thank you note when your grandmother sent you birthday money? As always, mom knows best. When you receive an online gift, be sure to send an email thank you. A follow up is appreciated, and you’ll leave your donors with a positive impression of the organization, making it more likely that they’ll donate again.
7. Transparency is Key
You’ve probably heard about the importance of financial transparency before, but it’s good to remind you that it’s beneficial for donors to understand where their money is being spent. You want to know what you’re paying for, and a detailed report on the use of the funds that are given to the church will encourage more giving in the long run.
Hopefully, these ideas will kick-start your online giving, bringing your church’s finances into the 21st century.
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