The Changing World of GivingMark Brooks
The Changing World of Giving is the title of this post. The following is drawn from a recent Lifeway Research report and from a post I filed for my sponsor, OnlineGiving.org. As we prepare for end-of-year giving, I want to focus on how people are giving and what you can do to help increase giving.
One of the greatest changes to church life in the last five years is how people give to their local church. A recent Lifeway Research study found that patterns of giving to local churches have changed dramatically in the last five years. For churches, we must understand how the changing world of giving impacts church life.
Consider these findings from Lifeway Research:
- Nearly half as many churchgoers today compared to 2017 give a check at church (30% vs. 59%).
- And more are giving electronically through all formats—church websites (23% vs. 11%), banks (14% vs. 5%), automated payments (8% vs. 3%), or church apps (7% vs. 3%).
We have come a long way since 2014, when Lifeway Research reported only 14% of churches offered an online giving option. Covid forced churches to set up online giving. So, change has come to church giving, but as with many things in church life, change is slower for some members. For instance, the Lifeway study found that most churchgoers still give cash at church (53%). Scott McConnell, the executive director of Lifeway Research, summed up well the slow adaption of new things by saying, “While electronic giving has grown significantly in the last five years, 6 in 10 (62%) churchgoers who give do not yet utilize electronic giving methods to give to their church.”1.
Like it or not, digital commerce is here to stay. And with a good strategy, you can use this tool to increase giving by attracting new donors and by encouraging existing donors to be consistent with their gifts. To help increase online giving engagements, I developed 5 Simple Steps to Improve Your Online Giving.
First, provide multiple options which people can give through. The changing world of commerce means that we now must provide multiple options by which members can give. Non-profit organizations have long realized the importance of multiple giving options for their donors. As commerce in America has changed, so have people’s desires for how they give at their church. This means churches must adapt what they offer regarding how people can give. This is one of the major reasons why, at OnlineGiving.org, we provide multiple options from Crypto to text giving. We have found that the more options you give members, the easier it is for them to give. The easier it is for people to give, the more apt they are to give. Call us today at 615-206-4000, and we will demonstrate for free how our multiple options can help you increase giving at your church.
Providing options is meaningless unless your members know about those options. Educating members about your various giving options must be a continual process. There is an old church saying, “You must tell a church member seven times, seven different ways, if you want them to hear what you are saying.” This is true when it comes to your online giving platform. One of the common mistakes churches make with online giving is setting it up and then forgetting about it. You must continually put a focus on each of the various platforms of giving you provide.
Secondly, make your giving link easily visible and accessible on the home page of your church website. I’m not talking about a flashing blue light, but it should be easy to find. If someone can’t find your giving link quickly, they will leave and might never give that gift. Also, make sure all your sites are mobile-friendly. Today, more emails and webpages are accessed by a smart device.
Third, use clickable links to your online giving site in all communications. From printed materials to emails and texts, attaching a clickable hyperlink makes it easy for people to find your giving portal. Another idea is to utilize social media to tell the story of what their church is doing. Then, provide a link to your giving page, allowing them to give to support that life change.
Fourth, consider using QR codes linking to your giving site. I was at a church recently, and they had attached stickers on the backs of chairs with a QR code on them so people could point their phones at the QR code and be taken to the church giving page.
Another way to increase giving is to find ways to encourage automated giving. The Lifeway study shows us that over 90% of our donors do not give their giving through automated giving. My sponsor, OnlineGiving.org, believes in automated giving so much that we encourage setting up automated giving at sign-up, through email receipts, and other means for continually putting this option in front of your members. We know that those who set their giving up to be automated typically give more money than those who do not. Additionally, if set up through their bank via ACH, you will save significantly on processing fees, keeping more of the donation.
Fifth and finally, every Sunday, focus on stewardship and generosity, mentioning how people can give. We used to call these moments offering talks. I now call them Mission and Ministry Moments. I use these times during the church service to put a positive view on giving and stewardship. As you teach people why they should give, you must also share how they can give. Don’t assume people know about your online giving platform. Talk about it regularly, show members how easy online giving is, and you will see an increase in giving.
Remember the old saying, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. When it comes to the changing world of giving in the 21st century, you must provide a robust giving platform to meet those changes. Contact us at (615) 206-4000 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Change can be a good thing, and we can show you how.
Now is the time to prepare for end-of-year giving by preparing your toolbox.
Mark Brooks The Stewardship Coach