One of the most common comments or hesitations that I hear from church leaders regarding adopting credit card giving pertains to credit card transaction fees.
Typically the price you pay for being able to take credit cards is usually about $.35-$.50 per transaction plus somewhere around 2.9% of the actual transaction amounts.
Ask any CFO, they hate that much money leaving the church without any other options.
Today, I had a chance to visit another church in my area.
They had a woman host the announcements and offering part of the Order of Service.
This church does offer texts to give as an option, but curiously did not push it or even mention it from the stage. So that’s not the part that they are doing well.
But I did hop onto their giving page which was printed on their giving envelope available in the back of seat pockets.
There, they had a FAQ list that stuck out when I was scanning the page:
WHAT THEY ARE DOING WELL
The question they decided to include asked:
Will 100% of my online giving go to the church?
And then they used that opportunity to explicitly list their transaction fees for taking credit cards online.
I think this is a great tactic to help address the internal concerns that usually come up arguing that by offering online giving, you will end up giving up a significant chunk of it to fees unnecessarily.
SIDE NOTE: This base argument is a fear-based and scarcity minded approach. Experience shows that overall giving increases as soon as they pull the trigger in offering credit card based giving options. You will receive more giving incrementally than the 2.21% utilized to receive funds through that channel.
WHAT THEY CAN DO BETTER
While it was great to be transparent about the transaction fee so that some supporters will proactively use other methods to maximize every penny of that goes to the church directly, I don’t believe it is then only or best counsel they can provide.
Pushing people to go to a physical check or cash methods in order to eliminate 100% of transaction fees seems odd and very shortsighted.
Instead I would reword that FAQ to contrast credit card giving versus ACH giving (giving via echeck). For this church, that’s only a 0.64% fee. Saving over 71% of potential transaction fees.
PLUS, most leaders don’t consider the cost of collecting cash and checks, sorting, counting and sending someone to physically deposit them. It doesn’t seem that you could do that for less than 0.64% of the cash & check collection amounts in most cases.
So I would also use it as an opportunity to reinforce the option of recurring. electronic giving.
Regardless, the tactic to appreciate here is how they explicitly shared the specific transaction amount credit cards would trigger.this allows them to present the options in the way that’s not guilt infused and puts the options in the hands of the giver.
Did you know that 41% of regular church attendees give to church consistently?
That’s less than half of your congregation. Alarming isn’t it?
Listen as Kenny Jahng discusses the State of the Plate of generosity amongst churches far and wide and how church leaders can bring solution to your weekly giving.
Check out the video below.
Hi there, this is Kenny Jahng with the Generosity Labs Podcast. Thank you so much for joining us today. One of the things that we have been getting questions about recently around here is the actual demand or the question really is do people really want to give outside of the offering envelope in terms of cash or cheque. Because one of the biggest rants that I’ve been having around here, Generosity Labs is that churches are stuck in the Stone Age, don’t understand that envelopes and cash are just not relevant anymore to most of the peoples that walk in their doors. And so I just want to refer back to an important, I guess landmark industry report that comes out on a periodic basis. It is the State of the Plate. And today I wanted to go through Brian Kluth’s work there, where they surveyed almost 1600 pastors, church leaders and lead people across the country. 1,596 people to be exact. And the survey asked these pastors, leaders and lay people’s from churches of all sizes and the types of churches varied as well. And one of the things that, the whole point of the report is to report on their church giving patterns and practices and I think we can learn a lot from just looking at some of the data that has come out of the State of the Plate report. I think the next one is going to be administered too. The latest report that we have is coming out at the end of 2016, but I think if you wanted to name this, it’s really the reality, the church giving is the name of the theme or the takeaway, right? It’s basically a way to Paul, to the church. Here’s a infographic that we produced in cooperation with a title State of the Plate.
And It’s what to call out some numbers that just struck me as we built this infographic. First one is 59 percent, so the majority of churches out there, if you are sitting in a church or you’re a church team or staff, 59 percent chances are you’re one of them. 59 percent of churches report declining or flat line giving. That’s in contrast with another study. I think it was by Giving Rocket at one point said 84 percent of churches are at or below budget. That means only 16 percent of churches have any sort of financial margin to do ministry beyond what they’re planning. This report here also says at 20 percent experienced giving decline of five percent or more. And I think they looked at five percent as being significant, right? So if you’re giving year after year is declining at a rate of five percent or more, it’s something to be concerned about if you’re not able to turn that pattern around, something’s going on with your giving behavior and that’s pointing to something deeper in the culture or DNA of your church, so that’s a gloomy outlook to begin with. Almost 60 percent of churches are declining or flat lines and 20 percent are actually saying, Whoa, we’re going downhill. We’re not just maintaining what we have, we’re actually going downhill. That means that you know, in 10 years you’re going to have a major issue, If you’re not doing anything here in five years and even in two years, 10 percent less money in the staff budget, in the ministry budget, in the outreach budget, and the missions budget that is something to take seriously right now.
Now let’s look at what’s happening on a Sunday, regular attendance, and we’ve all been talking about this for a couple years now and it becomes louder and louder. Regular attendance to a church no longer means that I go every Sunday. That’s what people are telling us in this report is confirmed. One third of members actually do not attend church on any given weekend. So if you’re looking at a church and you see their attendance numbers, you’ve got to think that those one third that actually are not here on any given some of the, you need to look at the larger community that this church might be responsible for and say that, wow, this is only two thirds of the people there. One-Third aren’t their peers, the bottom line this is the problem, that zero is the amount of giving received from people who missed church, especially if there no digital giving options available. That’s what has been happening in churches historically, right? If people don’t come to church or if a church is cancelled for some reason, whether it be weather related or anything else, and then you’re giving goes down for that month. And so that’s a critical problem but here on a normal, regular basis, one third of your members don’t attend church in any given weekend. That’s significant shift over the last decade or two as to what’s happening even in your closest, most inner concentric circles supporters and people in your community.
Regular no longer means I’m there every single Sunday. They’re just so many other competing things in our culture that happened. That’s enough fodder for a complete other podcast show, episode or blog posts, etc it’s another conversation. But here you can see only 56 percent of people in their twenties or thirties attend 90 percent or more of their Sunday services, only 56 percent, so it is not the norm anymore to go to church every single Sunday. Yet those are still the people that are your most committed and I think commitment is now being defined differently and that’s the challenge whether attendance is the way to define commitment and can you change the nature of your ministry so that physical presence is not the only way to be engaged and to receive and to minister to others, that’s again another conversation, but the norm now, right now, 56 percent of the young folks, 20’s and 30’s, they’re not attending 90 percent or more of the services. So along with attendance, obviously things are changing and shifting the way people give are not other consistent behavior either. Only 41 percent, give consistently on a weekly basis to the church. Whoa, 41 percent. If you had to guess without knowing that initially, I don’t know if I would have guessed that number was that low, that all less than half the people are giving on a consistent basis to your church.
So that means I think we need to be thinking about giving it a completely different way. We need to be talking about differently. We need to be experiencing differently. We need to presenting the options differently. In fact, 60 percent of attendees, according to this State of the Plate report, 60 percent of those in the 20’s and 30’s give only one or two times a month or even every few months. There’s not this need apparently, especially in the 20’s and 30’s, that generational band that they feel the need that they need to give their dollars every week. Now, it doesn’t mean that they’re not planning on it and it doesn’t mean that they are not giving enough to cover. But it does mean that giving is not a habit of if they come into church buildings, that they’re going to actually open up their wallets, their checkbooks, their credit cards, etc.
This is something that every church leader needs to really process and think about, even alone as well as a team. What does that mean? How does that change the offering time? How does it change the messaging that you give? How has it changed on the reporting and telling us stories of where their money goes in terms of flourishing for the gospel inside your building and outside of your building? Now these guys are giving elsewhere. They’re actually a healthy generation in terms of giving and supporting outside of themselves. You know, the bad reps that the millennials have in the 20’s and people in their 20’s and 30’s get is that they don’t give it all. They’re not helpful people. They’re not helping other, actually that’s not the case. 34 percent of churchgoers give to 4 or more organizations together and they do it consistently, right? So now you’ve got a culture where giving is thought of as a portfolio of giving, they’re looking and choosing cherry picking opportunities to support multiple organizations 4 or more, more than a third of the people there give or four or more different organizations consistently. And 80 percent of attendees, this is what’s showing that it’s actually happening in the church. Specifically, 80 percent of attendees gift to at least one other organization. The church is not the only share of wallet. There’s other organizations and entities and causes that are competing for the same dollars in the supporters wallet. And so this is just think about that. Hey, you’re not the only game in town. It’s no longer just obligation is enough. It’s no longer, this is the norm, this is the expectation.
The landscape has changed tremendously when you think that 80 percent of the people who give to your church and are actually giving elsewhere to begin with, most people are actually looking for meaning in how they give in the relationship and only 41 percent again are giving on a regular basis to church to begin with. So you’ve got to think about, hey, what’s going on? What are we doing wrong? Is there other ways that we can help boost up the rate of giving form from our people? Well, the first one to look at really is preferences. I know that cheques and I know that cash or the preferred method of receiving money for the church and you hear it all the time with church leaders, especially when you bring up credit card options because they say, hey, that 2 point something percent belongs to us, that 2 point something percent through, that’s the reason we’re not going to critic or giving because, you know, that money’s going elsewhere. But yet, digital is increasingly becoming the preferred method of payment. As we go to a cashless society and many, many churches, if not years in particular, are not helping out. They’re not giving that option on the table, which I think is just completely flabbergasting. You are mandating that people go backwards in their habits back to the stone ages of using cash only or cheques in particular and that’s the only way that they can support your ministry.
Now again, the question is, is this true or not? According to the survey, this backs it up in real numbers, only 14 percent surveyed want envelopes in the pews. Only 14 percent of people are going on these churches are giving through envelopes and that’s what they want. And you contrast that with the other portion, 68 percent of people when their church, they want digital options, they want a kiosk or ipad giving or some other digital option. The majority of people are saying to you right now through the survey, you don’t need to think about reaching out to your own people. This is a cross section of America. 68 percent want digital options like a kiosk or an ipad giving. What have you done to make it as easy as possible to collect those funds and revenue for your church? It’s just shocking how many people ignore that because they’re making some convoluted arguments about, you know, a couple of percentage points going to the credit card processing company. Now 49 percent wanting to give on a phone app. They want an actual mobile app for the church. And 54 percent just want cell phone texts giving options. So here you can say almost half or even more than half, they’re saying, hey, give us digital options, whether it be a phone app or texting. That’s the way we want to do it, and you might say, hey, we don’t really need that, we’ve got online giving on our website. Well, you know what, only 21 percent of people out there, we’re interested in online giving on the church website. So even if you had that choice, only 21 percent of the people out there expected it or trying to figure out how to fulfill their giving through a mobile phone app or cell phone text to give options. This is something that I think pastors and leaders need to begin to recognize. The importance of digital giving. that can be digital given by mobile, by text, by kiosk, by auto pay EFT payments, a recurring giving, it doesn’t matter. You need to start somewhere and pastors, leaders, are listening today. This is one of those rants or just a appeal podcasts, please, you know, you want to make the act of giving as accessible as possible to all church goers, even when they aren’t physically at the church.
I’m telling you, this is like prophetic. It’s going to be important for churches of all sizes and locations. You’re going to need to actively embrace digital giving methods very soon to encourage, to power greater generosity and more important that consistency in the act of giving amongst your church families. This is something that I just is so so important. 68 percent of the people are telling you they want digital options like kiosks and iPads. 54 percent are telling you they want text to give. 49 percent, almost half the congregation wanted given the full through, say a mobile app. they feel safe to do it in your churches mobile app somewhere. This is something that you need to start thinking about. And if you’re just offering a website alone, that’s not enough because only 21 percent of the people out there we’re interested in giving online on the church website and majority of people are looking elsewhere and you’re forcing them into a model that was made in the stone age and should stay in the stone age, envelopes and cash, cash, envelopes and cheques is definitely clearly here. Finally, we’ve got to study that, quantifies this, that is something that they do not want and so they are not giving at all.
So, those are just some examples of outcomes from the State of the Plate report that came out from Brian Kluth. It’s a very interesting survey. If you want to go further, you can Google it, state of the plate report and actually download the actual report. There’s a bunch of graphs and charts and things that will give you further details and nuances of the state of giving. But here I just want to end this episode with this reality of the church. This is a wake up call for us as leaders and this is one of the reasons why we started the whole resource of generosity labs, that it is time to take a look at digital giving, digital mobile text giving. All these options are something that you need to start to think about and embrace fully even before 2018 is out. Promise me this that you’re going to start to look at those options if you haven’t started already to figure out how to implement one more option for your church in the next month or two. How much more do you need than the people out there telling you in double digit majority numbers that they prefer to give a certain way. And yet you’re not embracing those types of methods. This is just something that you need to look at seriously with your leadership team and figure out, hey, is this something that we can move on and do so in a meaningful way this year so that we don’t get left behind. You definitely don’t want to be one of the, almost 60 percent of churches that are declining or have flat lined in giving.
So, we’d love to hear your thoughts about the State of the Plate report. Again, this seems to be a very good baseline comprehensive study to use as a conversation piece internally with your other pastors and leaders and even high capacity lay people of the church. So that you can start to talk about what does it mean for our church, given our size, given our constituents, given our giving practices that we typically have. What does that mean? Those are the types of things that I hope will start to be prompted in terms of questions because the opportunity and the prospects out there, if you were able to embrace digital giving is a completely different story and I’ll bring one of those stories to you shortly here on the Generosity Labs Podcast, but today it’s a wake up call, the reality of giving in the church is in decline, attendance is added decline. Giving is not consistent in their behaviors and so this is something that you need to look at because competition exists now with other regular giving opportunities. People are choosing, it’s not that they’re not giving it all and you’re just saying, hey, they’ve stingy behavior or they’re just not in a giving mood. No, they are giving, period, they are giving to 4 more other organizations or at least one other organization, 80 percent of the people who attend your church are giving to at least one other charitable organization. And so that means either they’re making the decision to split it or there’s more underlying deeper causes that we need to talk about and figure how to address and turnaround for the future.
Well, there you have it. That’s what I have for today. Again, prompted by some of the questions that had been coming up recently asking people, you know, we hear about digital giving, we hear about texting, you hear about mobile giving? But, isn’t that just all sales and marketing? Is that really what the people want? Isn’t really what the people in my church would want? Is giving them something that they would prefer as their primary method of transferring funds from their wallet to the church’s accounts for their offerings and tithes. If we made that easier, if we got rid of that friction, what would it mean for the church? Would it mean that we could be fully funded? Would it mean that we can have an overflowing offering basket at the end of the season? Those are things that I would love to see you guys struggle with. Discuss internally, hold each other accountable and start to explore what would have all the resources out there to help you make that next decision in terms of presenting giving opportunities for your people.
I’m Kenny Jahng. Thank you so much for listening to today’s episode of Generosity Labs. I would love to hear what your perspective is and what is the hangup in your progression and your journey in terms of adopting digital online text to give, mobile giving, whatever that next step is in your church. What is that obstacle? What is that question? What’s hindering you from taking the next step and not allow you to just completely blow it out and make all the options available to make it as easy as possible for your people to contribute to the mission and ministry of your church. Love for that question for you to respond in, check out our blog GenerosityLabs.Org. Do me a favor, if you are inspired or spurred on by our podcast episodes, if you would, do us a favor and smash that like button and leave us a review, an honest review on Apple iTunes. That’s gonna help get the word out to more church leaders so they can get more of our free resources to help them with this journey that we’re all going on together toward digital giving. I’m Kenny Jahng, thank you so much for joining us. Remember, be generous, stay generous.