I don’t know about where you live, but I have been seeing pumpkin spice infiltrate the beginning of September where it has no place of belonging.
It seems like retailers everywhere are injecting pumpkin spice into anything they can.
People have jumped the gun. This isn’t good. There is a time and season for everything. Pumpkin spice should be reserved for October.
There ARE things you should be thinking about NOW regarding events that happen later in Fall. Like on November 28, 2017.
It’s called #GivingTuesday.
There’s so much potential with Giving Tuesday, which is the first MONDAY AFTER Black Friday. This year, it falls on November 28.
If you’ve never thought about involving your church in a #GivingTuesday campaign, think again. Just take a look at some of the giving-related stats for GivingTuesdayin the past and you’ll soon be convinced you need to consider it this year.
We’ll be talking about #GivingTuesday here on the blog. Let us know if you’ve started planning for it.
Type YES in the comments if you have. Type NO if you haven’t thought about it at all yet.
Recently, we sat down with Dean Sweetman ofTithe.lyto discuss the state of giving. In our discussion, we went how churches can find and use best practices when it comes to cultivating generosity.
Here are a few highlights:
[3:31] In ministry, we live on a budget and the budget has its forecast of regular revenue that comes in and whether it be weather-related cancellation or holidays or people just not showing up at the church on a weekly basis anymore on our culture.
[4:09] A lot of pastors don’t think business-mindset when it comes to church in giving. I think the shift that has to come to the body of Christ coming to mind is “I’m gonna run it as a business, I’m gonna use best business practices and to do that, I’ve had to have some kind of a way of projecting my income.”
[4:57] When you put on anywhere, anytime giving solutions in people’s hand it changes the whole dynamic.
[5:38] More than 50 % of the contribution that come in by a mobile are over 250 dollars. So, people, they are not scared to give with their phones. They’re actually okay to give big money. 18% of our contributions, a thousand dollars plus, we get a contribution of 50,000 dollars via text message so it’s a no-brainer.
[6:23] Everybody is pretty much there on trusting the mobile device being a point of sale and it’s just a matter of the church, instead of being behind that curve, staying in front of that curve.
[7:13] Digital giving is definitely three times the size the amount of the contribution. I think that’s the couple of things I think it’s the convenience it’s the easiness of people giving, but you’re also hitting the demographic that’s pretty affluent and surely doesn’t having problems that making contributions today.
[9:13] We found the people who are not wanting to give is that the church has made people give number one on a Sunday. And, they have to give a checkbook or cash. Well, millennials, 35 or under don’t know what a check account is, don’t know what a checkbook is. My kids don’t and you know, they don’t carry cash. Everything is debit card or credit card. So, it’s giving people the solution to be how to do it and then, use it by and in their vacation, listening to a church’s podcast, get a message, they looked in the calendar in the app whatever and then next kind of normal thing to do is to make their contribution.
[10:16] Once we tied in with the data, we found that across all these and we’re talking, tens of millions of dollars, ⅓ is on a Sunday, ⅔ is on Monday through Saturday
[12:35] Looking at the months of the year, the summer slump which is classic, like schools are getting out everyone is excited, but the pastor is not excited because he knows during the summer, his income gonna go down up to 30%. So, what happens is when you put again a mobile giving solution in the hands of the members, guess what? They’re going to use it and so what we see is the out numbers actually stay firm and our July-August is actually up and so, people when they have the ability to give with their phone, they are going to give even when they’re out of town and on vacation.
[15:40] Other than the solution, providing tools, the other component probably the most key is education.
[16:37] The whole concept of Christianity is built around generosity, right? We’re taught in the New Testament to be generous with everything.
[16:51] So, whether you have a theological issue with tithe, let’s just put that aside for a second and decide that Jesus has taught us to be generous people. And I think that message can be preached, you know, if not on a weekly basis, certainly on a monthly basis, somewhere around the giving moment, you’re instructing your members about generosity and using the Bible to teach on God’s perspective on generosity.
[19:16] There’s the idea of getting people in the mindset of giving consistently. And if you can get people in that mindset to give consistent our numbers show that 85% of the people who give regularly, providing half the budget and 15% who give regularly provide the other half.
[21:47] If you search and dig and pray and ask the Holy Spirit to lead you into the Scriptures on what they say about money, you will be many many hours and days and getting great revelations of what the Bible says about finance. So, it’s willingness of the minister to get the revelation first.
In today’s episode of the Generosity Labs podcast, we interview Joseph Sangl who is on a quest to help pastors get over their fear about talking about money. He is the founder of I Was Broke Now I’m Not.
Key points in the discussion:
How does a pastor bring up the taboo subject of money with his preaching?
What are some take-aways to add into a pastor’s sermon about giving and generosity?
How powerful and important is an offering prep?
4 Resources About Financial Management
You can listen, subscribe or watch my interview with Joseph below.
Reach out to Joseph Sangl on iwasbrokenowimnot.com
CHECK OUT WWW.GENEROSITYLABS.ORG for more episodes, blog articles and more resources about giving and generosity.
KENNY: Good day everybody. This is Kenny Jahng coming at you again and today, in the hot seat, we’ve got a good friend Joe Sangl. Thank you so much for being with us, Joe, today.
JOE: Fired up. Thanks so much brother.
KENNY: It is great to be with you especially because the conversation that we’ve been having with a lot of churches in the past recently center around the taboo topic of money. Giving and money. And I know that you are in that space. You’re talking about that everyday, actually. So, why don’t you share with our audience a little about who you are, what you do and how you help churches in particular.
JOE: My name is Joseph Sangl. And I founded an organization called I Was Broke, Now, I Am Not. and I’d like to say people, if you’re saying now, he is broke? You’re failing grammar class and it’s not fun being broke. And I got unbroke and I did it by following God’s Word and applying His principles. And as I went through the process, I have an Engineering degree from Purdue University, got my MBA, and I was still broke. And I was wondering, “Was it that difficult?” And I realized, I was thinking too hard that it’s really the reading of God’s Word and the application of it. I started finding all the scripture about money. And I’ve found out that God’s Word is not silent on it. But, my pastor had been silent on it. Therefore, I was educated by all those great marketers from Madison Avenue and I spend it all. I have the spiritual gift to making money disappear and I got deliverance. And I am on a one-man quest to help pastors get over their fear in talking about money because all their people, they make money decisions all day long.
KENNY: So, let’s get into that because I think it’s still even today in 2017, a little bit of a taboo topic for these pastors and church leaders that we’re talking to, they’re afraid to bring it up. They feel like they’re begging for money. They feel like it’s out of place. It’s not an etiquette. In fact, I’ve had lunch with a pastor this week who said, he literally doesn’t have any data on how much money people give in his church. They put up a security wall, so that he literally doesn’t know. So, what is the first step? If people here listening today want to embrace a culture of generosity, how do they bring up money and tithing and giving if they’ve never preached on it before, right, which is very possible, they don’t do it in classes, or workshops or seminars, or even in the bible studies, what’s the first step? How do you bring it up for the first time the pulpit or from the stage?
JOE: That’s a great question and I would say, they need to start with the “Why”. Why do they want to talk about it because if it’s just to get them to give, that’s not appropriate “why”. If it’s, I want to teach them about what God’s Word says about all of money, giving but also saving, debt, planning, investing, if I want to see them win and fund the dreams God has placed in their life and be able to fund the shared dream of the church, then, when they get to that place if that is their why, then, that’s when they need to approach the church with it. A lot of pastors, when they hear us say, “You need to preach on money.”, they immediately, something about that word replaces it with the word with ‘giving’ — preach on ‘giving’. But, that’s only, you know, 10%. If you’re giving, preaching the tithe, that’s only 10% of the resources God has placed in their hands. You need to make sure you speak to the entire pocket, the other 90%, as well. And so, I would start by talking about their goal as a leader to help people live a fully funded life, being able to do exactly what God has called them to do, regardless of its cause or income potential and then, go from that point. I am going to talk about giving, yes, that is God’s Word. We should be givers. I will talk about the rest, too because I also want to help you live the best and only life you have.
KENNY: I love that. That is such a critical insight. That, if you’re preaching on giving, you’re only talking about 10% of their daily living of what they go through, you need to talk about the holistic aspect. Now, some people have an allergic reaction to thinking that money and stewardship is a part of spiritual discipline. What’s your take on it?
JOE: I just say, how can you say you love the Lord and not be a giver? How can you say He died and paid the ultimate price that we can have liberty? And you know, I have heard one said, “How can I stare at the blood-stained cross, and say what is the minimum of I can give?” You know what I’m saying? So, Jesus said in Matthew 6:21, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” And if you say you love the Lord, if you say your heart is with the Lord, it will compel you to be a giver.
KENNY: In terms of preaching, you were saying that, “Hey, look, we’re not going to talk about actually giving to the church. That is not the focus or the end goal or the call to action at the end of the first time you’re talking about it.” What’s the take-away of that first talk, the first sermon someone’s going to give?
JOE: I think the take-away is to ask the question, “Are you truly honoring the Lord with everything He has placed in your hands?” And I would challenge every person within my church to spend an hour this next week reviewing their last month’s spending. Pull out their credit card statements, bank statements and say, “In an audit, when someone convicts you, which means having them found guilty of, living a generous life and being a wise manager.” I am going to start there. I love the story that Jesus shares in parable to talents in Matthew 25:14-30, where it talks about the three manager. And it says in there, each according to their ability they’re giving different amounts. If people want more to manage, increase your ability to manage it. It says, the Lord pays attention to that.
KENNY: Got you. Shifting gears a little bit. About the specific offering, one of the things that I’m a bit proponent about, and I think that people miss is that the offering part of the service is one of the most strategic moments of your ability to influence the daily living of your congregants. How powerful can that be? Have you seen any tangible differences when people pursue that?
JOE: Absolutely. There’s a massive difference. Some people called it an offering prep. But, really, it is an opportunity to speak about money 52 times a year in a positive, productive and spiritual principle manner. And we encourage people to change it up each week, so it doesn’t blend into the woodwork. Many churches have fallen into a routine, and it’s, “Oh yeah, we need to do that.” But really, giving is one of the most tangible forms of worship that we can do. It is really us, saying, “I can give this and believe that with God’s blessing on the rest, I can live a better life.” It’s the tangible form of saying that I trust the Lord. And so, I want to encourage every leader that’s listening to this, watching this is that you should think through and spend as much time planning the offering moment as you do in planning the message. It’s that important.
KENNY: And one of the biggest hesitations is that if you are constantly putting up calls-to-action about giving and money that the reaction is being negative, you’re going to be seen as someone who’s greedy and self-serving. How do you avoid that perception on the receiving end?
JOE: So, again, if the leader feels like that is what they’re doing, then, they are probably doing that they need to re-evaluate their why. But on the other side, the way you speak about giving, it needs to be about the mission and the vision and how giving has helped accomplished it. And being into the attitude of gratitude to tell people, “I’m so grateful to you’ve chosen to be part of the vision here at Cornerstone Church, at Crosspoint Church. Let me tell you how your giving a dollar makes a difference in our community and connecting the dots that these dollars really have equal life change.” And when you do that, it actually encourages people. It helps them understand that there’s a return of investment, an ROI here. And they know for a fact, this is the greatest place that I can give my dollar.
KENNY: Tell us a little bit more on your ministry in particular, how you actually help churches accomplish that tactically and logistically. What other resources that you are able to derive?
JOE: Well, I feel like there are four spokes of the wheel that fund churches. And we’re serving all 4 of them. One is personal stewardship. With I Was Broke, Now I Am Not, we have personal finance group studies, think of Dave Ramsey’s Type studies. I go on sites, teach stewardship messages, teach 2 hour classes. And then, have DVD based studies resources. The next one is InJoy Stewardship Solutions. That’s capital campaigns. That’s the sacrificial pocket. You know, that time of sacrifice come and go. And that helps churches raise big time money when they’re raising half of the year’s the budget or more. That’s when we can help. And then, the third pocket is the regular giving pocket. And I started that with somebody you and I both know, Michael Lukaszewski, an organization called Fully-Funded. It’s an online coaching membership where churches have gathered together, learning how to implement regular giving systems within their church. The fourth pocket is Estate Planning and that’s talking to people about their assets and what they’re going to do with them when they leave. And how they can still have kingdom impact even beyond their after life. And so we help in those all four categories and the greatest place to start really is a conversation with I Was Broke. Now, I Am Not or with InJoy Stewardship Solutions or Fully-Funded whichever category a pastor needs. We love to help them with that.
KENNY: Most of the churches in this country now, in the State of the Union is that over 50% of the churches are a hundred or less in attendees.
JOE: That’s right.
KENNY: And then, you’re probably talking solo pastor ministries, right? Is the pastor himself/herself the one that really should be the spokesperson, the steward, the facilitator of this conversations or is it a treasurer, a finance person, volunteers, an elder or somebody else that should be the point person for these types of conversation?
JOE: That’s a great question. And the right answer is it depends. It depends upon the past culture of the church and how people respond to that culture. So, if the pastor feels confident talking about money and can answer those questions, then, it should be the pastor, you know, their kind of CEO of your church. They’re the public face of the ministry. They are the chief vision-caster in most cases. So, it’s most compelling when it’s from the leader. However, many pastors in smaller churches have a very strong business leader, who’s a leader of their board, who can speak very eloquently on this topic. It can be a very wise shepherd, helping people honor the Lord with their resources. So, if that’s the case, then, it’s okay if that person as well.
KENNY: I am really glad that you’re both advocating depending on the context. This past week I had lunch with a pastor who shared with me that he literally does not know any of the finances of his church. Is that wise? Is that something that you think that needs to be cordoned off, you know, the pastor, he’s deep in the Word, preaching in his ministry and the rest of the flock are concerned about the business of the church, the expansion of the church, etc. what’s your opinion on that?
JOE: I would argue strongly, the pastor should know. Proverbs 27:23 says, “A Shepherd knows the status of his flocks.” The pastors and shepherds and giving is an absolute outward sign of a person’s heart condition. I know in some cases that if the pastor knows they would be fired. So, if that’s the case, I would want to get the pastor fired. I would say, someone must know. And I would start by saying, “Anybody who’s on staff or in a key volunteer leadership position, somebody needs to know that they’re giving generously.” Plus, everything rises and falls on leadership. John Maxwell, right? And if the leader and the leaders of the church are not leading the way in this thing called generosity, you can not expect for that mission, that vision to be fully funded.
KENNY: Wow, that’s pretty powerful. I think it’s a good guidance, too. And I think it also always comes down to the confidence of the pastor. Many pastors are not, right? Seminary didn’t change us like an MBA, like you and I have. It’s a part of the profile that a pastor needs to understand. Where do they go for resources to become up to speed on the financial aspect of the business?
JOE: I would say every single pastor can sign up for our online class for free. And so, I Was Broke, Now I Am Not has a year-long course with coaching, mentoring and lessons and I would give it to any pastor, senior pastor, that contacts us. We would give it to them for free. And I’ll answer their questions. My passion. You know, there are too many broke pastors. And most pastors, especially those of the 200 or less, 100 or less, they don’t go in the ministry to make millions of dollars. They do it because of passion and calling. Most of them don’t have any vacation and are very tired. And my goal is to be able to help them become liberated in their finances so that they can solely focus on God’s calling. And finances, generally, is the number one barrier from that church growing to the 500 mark.
KENNY: I love it. And that’s what I love about your ministry. Your heart really comes through authentically. That’s where your passion is. You really want to help that pastor, the leader get a hold in their own finances, so that they can actually focus on all the other things in ministry as well.
KENNY: Thank you so much for stopping by. If someone wants to get in touch with you personally, what’s the best way to do that? Social media, email, website? Give us your digits here.
JOE: Go to iwasbrokenowimnot.com Just Google it. I Was Broke Now I Am Not. And click Contact Joe. That will go right through me and my team and we’ll be in touch very soon. We’d love to help any leader to be able to fund vision. It’s our passion.
KENNY: Thanks so much Joseph, really to stop by and hope some time to revisit with us later to go deeper in some other topics. But, I love what you’re doing and everything that you do for the kingdom.
JOE: Thanks for the opportunity. So blessed. Thanks Kenny.
The Generosity Labs Podcast is part of a new resource hub for pastors, providing free resources and information about digital giving. You can find more free resources here. A full transcription is below
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White coats? Beakers? A little smoke and occasional explosion! Needles, knives, tweezers, and other tools?
The dictionary tells us that a lab is “a place providing opportunity for experimentation, observation, or practice in a field of study”. An experiment is “a test for the purpose of discovering something unknown”.
So let’s use Generosity Labs to talk about a few real world giving experiments we’ve been up to over at Tithe.ly. Sound good?!
Lab coats. Check.
Protective eye wear. Check.
Experiment #1: Will Mobile Giving Grow Overall Giving?
It’s not uncommon for us to hear from churches that they have “online giving”, but there is a very big difference between “online giving” and “mobile giving”.
You see, most of the time “online giving” requires people to go to their laptop which is sitting at home. Meaning, instead of giving in the moment of the offering at church, the person has to remember to crack open their computer and get online when they get home. The chances of that happening is fairly slim because people fellowship after church, go to lunch, attend their kids sporting activities, spend time with family and countless other things. Then, the go home. Tired 🙂 Next Sunday rolls around and they are listening to the offering thinking “shoot, I was going to give online after the last service!”.
Mobile giving, on the other hand, allows people to take part in the worship and give right in the offering moment or while the plate is being passe.
Michael Morris, Sr. Pastor at Cornerstone Community Church in the rural mountains of Virginia launched Tithe.ly about six months ago. Prior to Tithe.ly his church only had online giving tools avail for members to give.
He rolled out true mobile giving through Tithe.ly and the early results are impressive. Here’s what Pastor Morris has to say …
“After launching Tithe.ly, we quickly saw our giving trends change. We now have 34% of all giving occur from mobile, which is a big increase from our previous solution. Another positive benefit is that 41% of our online giving is recurring giving, meaning that our giving is now more consistent week after week.
After the first quarter, the church is ahead of budget by 2 entire weeks! This is the first time the church has ever been ahead of budget during the first quarter. Based on the current average for 2017, we should exceed our annual budget by $50,000.
Conclusion: When put in the hands of members, mobile giving does, in fact, increase giving.
Experiment #2: Does the Summer Giving Slump Have to Happen?
The summer giving slump is a real thing in the church world.
What is it, you ask?
For many years there has been a direct correlation between attendance and giving. If people miss church, they don’t give. It’s seen most dramatically in the summer months. People go on vacation, have family in town, stay out and wake up late, etc. So, from May through August, many churches in the U.S. see giving “slump” (aka decline) due to attendance dropping.
It’s been reported that the average decline is between 20 – 30%!
Based on the historical trend, many churches simply plan for this in their annual budgeting process. The scale back programs, activities, and other costs in order to keep cost during the summer inline with income.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Check out the chart based on Tithe.ly giving research below.
The line represents the normal giving pattern for many churches in the U.S. That’s the summer slump!
The bars in green represent what churches using Tithe.ly see during the summer months. You don’t even have to look closely to see that there is NO SUMMER SLUMP for churches using Tithe.ly. Giving actually steadily grows through the summer.
Conclusion: When you give people mobile, text, and online giving tools so they can give whether they are in church or away, giving doesn’t suffer during the summer months so you don’t have to plan for the “summer slump”.
Experiment #3: WIll People Give Big Gifts Online?
It’s not uncommon to hear church leadership share opinions about online giving being for small gifts. Somehow, church leaders have been convinced that people won’t give big donations through a mobile giving app or online giving solution.
But, is that true?
The data suggest this is, in fact, a myth!
54% of gifts given through the Tithe.ly digital giving platform are over $250 with 18% being over $1,000! I wouldn’t put those in the “small gift” category, would you?
Conclusion: Although popular opinion suggest online giving is for smaller gifts, the data shows that this isn’t true. People are comfortable giving big!
Experiment #4: Do People Prefer Using their Bank Account Over Credit/Debit Card for Giving?
Let’s start with a disclaimer: We are NOT in favor of anyone using debt to give or otherwise going into debt. That goes completely against the biblical call to be good stewards of the resources that God has entrusted to our care. We understand that this heart is the heart behind churches wanting to not allowing giving by way of a credit card.
The thing is, people, your members, prefer giving through a credit or debit card compared to using their bank account directly.
We don’t have any hard data to support why this is the case, but we do have two anecdotal bit of evidence based on talking to a lot of people about it:
People do not want to attach their bank account to anything.
People like getting the points associated with using their credit card.
Conclusion: Card based giving is the preferred method for most individuals.
Experiment #5: Will People “Cover the Fees”?
Cover the fees™ is a handly little feature in Tithe.ly that allows the giver to help offset fees paid by the church to use Tithe.ly. Essentially, the giver can turn on Cover the fees™ and it will increase their donation amount slightly so that the church gets the full gift amount.
It’s a feature that, to be completely honest, we didn’t know would work or not, but we had a hunch and wanted to experiment a bit.
Much to our surprise, Cover the fees™ not only worked, it gets used in over 25% of all gifts made across the Tithe.ly platform.
Your turn …
You can take off your protective eyewear now 🙂
The experiments are done.
There you have it. Five real world generosity experiments that we’ve been running for some time, along with the data to back up the results. We’d love to hear from you in the comments below! What giving experiments have you run? Do any of the above stand out or do you find yourself questioning the data? Let us know.
Dean Sweetman For over 30 years, Dean has been involved in ministry and building businesses that support the work of the Church. He’s help plant over 50 churches and raised millions of dollars to spread the Gospel, equip leaders, and change lives. Now Dean spends his time focused on using technology to advance the Kingdom. When he’s not helping churches grow their giving with Tithe.ly he’s spending time with his family and new grandson!
In this episode of the Generosity Labs Podcast, we sit down with Cindy Petroff, the Director of Finance at Faith Family Church. Cindy has been serving at Faith Family for more than 18 years and has seen the landscape of giving change substantially
You can listen, subscribe or watch my interview with Cindy Petroff below.
The Generosity Labs Podcast is part of a new resource hub for pastors, providing free resources and information about digital giving. You can find more free resources here. A full transcription is below
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KENNY: Greetings podcast land. My name is Kenny Jahng and this is the Generosity Labs podcast. Generosity and giving as it relates to the church is one of the biggest and most important conversation we can have among faith communities. And, that’s why we’re here today with Cindy Petroff. So glad to have you on the show today, Cindy.
CINDY: Thank you for having me Kenny.
KENNY: You worked in many fields of accounting, I believe, including government and public manufacturing and now non-profit. I think you’re currently on staff there at Faith Family Church, leading the accounting department. I think you’ve been doing that for 15-18 years, now?
CINDY: Little over 18 years, yes.
KENNY: I’m sure you’ve seen the evolution and the growth and just different time periods of how the church has handled money and giving and generosity.
CINDY: Yes. From 18 years ago to what it is now today is literally different.
KENNY: Completely different.
KENNY: First, let’s just hear a little bit more about you, Cindy and the church.Tell us a little bit more about you and what your role really means for the church. Tell us also, what is your church community like? How many people gather on a Sunday? Who and what would we see if we came to visit in a service, sat in and take a look around on a Sunday?
CINDY: Faith Family Church is a rather large church. We’ve got, on weekends, anywhere between 3000 to 4000 people that regularly attends. We actually have a Saturday night service and a Sunday morning service. Because we do find a lot of people who prefer to come on a Saturday Night compared to Sunday morning. We got a real mixed crowd of people who attend here — from young people who have a great youth program to people who have been here since the church began. Myself, am the Director of Finance here. I have been in that position, different titles, but basically the same position for 18 years. So, I like to try new technologies and I like to sometimes, there are some hesitation with that. But, you know, I’ve really watched not only the church grow but also things evolved with time.
KENNY: One of the things I love hearing about your church in Ohio is that you actually brought onboard digital giving, introduced it to the church as a response to some of the younger generation there. Tell us a little bit more about. How did that start?
CINDY: Well, it started probably around 8 years ago when we first went to online giving. We have some of the younger people had said, “Why don’t we go to online giving?”. And, we really thought about it for a while because with me, I’m not a younger person. And I was like, “Oh, it’s credit cards; it’s debit cards.” We just had that hesitation about doing that. But once we went to the online giving, they create an app that people can use the app on their phones or log in to our website and give. And, I mean, a lot of people use it. It was popular, but it wasn’t like mind-blowingly popular. People either liked it or didn’t like it. And, 8 years ago, there was still a lot of hesitation from a lot of people to use online giving.
KENNY: Definitely. We’ve come a long way, right? If you look at even e-commerce as a whole, people don’t think about giving a credit card even on your mobile phone today for a purchase, buying stuff on the run is the norm for many Americans today. Tell us a little about your digital giving options today. So, you got online giving on your website. You said, you got a mobile app that you can give through a mobile app. Do you offer text-to-give as well?
CINDY: Yes. We do now offer text-to-give. We initiated that I would say, 2 and a half years ago. That one really came from our youth, in our really young college age kids. They had originally come to our staff and said, “We really like to be able to give by text.”
CINDY: “Everyone’s is using their phones now and we really like you to think about doing that.” Having been doing the online giving, it wasn’t as tough to make that transition. But, I would say that text-to-give has really been a popular choice.
KENNY: Have you seen that it’s only limited usage to the younger? And by younger, are you saying, under 20, under 30, under 40? What is the population are you thinking as the bulk of people who use text-to-give?
CINDY: I would say initially it was the younger 30 and under crowd that really jumped on board with it, right away.
KENNY: What about today?
CINDY: Today, we have all age ranges using it. We have some people that are in their 60s that were using online giving but they had to do their username and their password, and it was more difficult. So, with text-to-give, they literally just send a text with their giving, and they’re like, they really like it because it’s easy.
KENNY: Nice. What are you guys using for text-to-give?
CINDY: For online giving, we are using our database software which is Shelby Arena and, that’s our people database. And when people login to the online giving, they’re literally logging into that database and, they can see their giving records from there. For text-to-give, we’re using Kindrid, which is of course separate from that. But, it’s a great option and, it actually merges really great into Shelby Arena.
KENNY: Got you. Do you have it fully integrated or you don’t need to do extra manual data entry?
CINDY: There’s no data entry. But, what we do is we go to Kindrid and we export the files everyday and then, we just import them into Shelby Arena.
KENNY: Great. In that way, you have one place in all your people profile and histories contain.
CINDY: Yes. that’s true,
KENNY: Got you. What was one of the biggest challenges in adopting text-to-give in your opinion?
CINDY: One of the biggest challenges was getting people to understand how to text-to-give especially if they wanted it to be their tithe, if they wanted it to be the building, if they wanted it to go to one of our other children or whatever. That’s probably the thing that we are continually just reminding people of how that works because if you’re new to it, it can be somewhat confusing.
KENNY: Right. One of the hesitations that I’ve heard from many people who are exploring text giving solutions is that they’re scared that people’s giving rates will drop off. People are not comfortable writing a check versus text in amounts. They rather write the larger amounts via check and that they would not give that much via texting. Have you noticed any loss in terms of the average gift size or are you only receiving small dollar amounts via text?
CINDY: I would say that I’ve not seen anything drop off but someone who would normally give text-to-give, if they did have a particular large gift that they wanted to give, they might write a check for that. And we have many people who do use multiple avenues to give.
KENNY: Got you. Depending on their own preferences, like the flexibility.
CINDY: Yes. They may give weekly with online giving having set up as something that’s automatic. They don’t have to go in and do anything. It’s just every week or every month or whatever give this amount, but they want to give in to a special offering then, they may give text-to-give.
KENNY: One of the biggest obstacles that we have when talk to church teams is that the back office, the finance team, it’s not like you’re out there doing 2 hour lunches everyday, and just sun bathing, right? You got a full plate in terms of what you need to do. So, the hesitation of bringing in another service into the mix in your workflow, tends to be some resistance in some church teams. Just realistically, have you had to add any part time or full time to integrate the Kindrid solution, the text-to-give to increase that giving option. What type of extra resources have you needed in order to do that?
CINDY: Actually, it’s quite the opposite. Because we have a larger congregation, everyone was giving by check, we have so much more data entry that we have to do. So, by them doing online, which is just integrated in there and with the Kindrid, all we do is in one batch, import that into our system and post it. We save time — more people who use that actually saves us time.
KENNY: Interesting. So, you’ve got a church scenario wherein you have a huge proportion is check manually based entry. A text-to-give solution might actually be a good time saver. Is that what you’re saying?
CINDY: Absolutely. We went through and looked to see if someone’s giving by check. How many times does the accounting department have to touch that check or that envelope? And it was literally like seven times whereas in the text-to-give you’re importing it, posting it and you’re done.
KENNY: Got you. And you’re not doing it individually. It’s done in a batch. Everyone. It’s one file. A day that you export and import.
CINDY: Yes, that’s correct.
KENNY: Not in a manual and individual basis.
CINDY: Correct. The only thing you would have to do manually is when someone new gives that isn’t in your database. Other than that it’s literally a five minute process.
KENNY: Have you seen any optic in new givers embracing the text-to-give mostly or is it mostly just old time givers?
CINDY: I would say that as new people come in to the church that’s the way their giving is by text-to-give. Younger people, many of them don’t even have checking accounts or use checks. For them, they’re like, “Oh, I can do that. I can give” It’s so easy just to do it. First initial text-to-give and you’re setup. It’s so much easier than ‘Oh, I didn’t bring my checkbook’, ‘I don’t have any cash on me’. It’s a very great advantage.
KENNY: If you have a chance to talk to the people who are listening today who are considering making that leap into digital giving, what’s the one piece of advice that you would give them as they go into this whole decision process?
CINDY: I would say for and I’ve said this to people in the past for a text-to-give option, make sure that it integrates well with the software you’re currently using. Make sure that it’s something that you can import in and you’re not creating another data entry issue for your staff.
KENNY: Great piece of advice. It’s important to make sure everything works together, right?
KENNY: Thank you so much for spending a little bit of your time with us and sharing your experiences with digital giving. We’re going to end the interview with a lightning round of questions. Are you ready Cindy?
KENNY: So, the first one is, can you share one thing for the top of everyone’s list. Whether it’s a list of books, great books that they should be reading, website that they should be visiting, conferences that they should be taking note of or some other type of resource related to church and the vocation or ministry.
CINDY: I would say I recently read a book called The Leadership Triangle. And, that was really great. It’s by Ford Kevin and Ken Tucker. It was very helpful for me and really understanding our roles as leaders and how to involve everyone in some of your decision making.
KENNY: Nice. that’s a good one. So, what’s one thing that you’re looking forward to 2017 regarding the church?
CINDY: We are going to be opening a campus in 2017. In 2016, we opened some prison campuses and we’re doing those every week in multiple prisons. It’s an awesome program and we’re really looking forward to opening a campus somewhere that we’ll able to reach to our people.
KENNY: Wow. that’s exciting. That period of growth is stored whenever you’re adding another campus. That’s a great time to be a part of the church. Third question is, where are you getting your inspiration and education about donor development these days?
CINDY: I would say my inspiration is coming from our younger staff members. I’m a little older. I won’t say how much older. But, they have the pulse of the younger people. Sometimes, they bring ideas to me that I’ve never not necessarily even heard of and it gives me the information I need for the research.
KENNY: Just a whole story about your church. I love that repeatedly there’s so many examples of being open and listening to the community and being responsive to that. I think that posture is something that everyone really needs to take note of. I think it’s an awesome posture to have. You’ve shared so many good things today. If someone listening today wanted to get in touch with you, what’s the best way that they can do that today?
KENNY: Awesome. And that’s your website also, myfaithfamily.com?
CINDY: That’s correct.
KENNY: And that church is in Ohio. Thank you so much Cindy for being in the show today.
CINDY: Thank you Kenny.
Kenny: Thank you for our audience for listening to our conversation on digital giving and the church. If this episode has been useful to you, do me a favor and like and review this podcast episode today. It really helps us reach more church leaders across the country on such an important issue with the future of the church. Well, that’s a wrap. I’m Kenny Jahng for Generosity Labs. ‘Til next time. Check out our website at www.generositylabs.org. Remember learning to give with your heart is when the real giving starts.
In our latest episode of the Generosity Labs Podcast, we sit down with Nadine Raphael. Nadine has been with the Christian Life Center in Florida for 16 years and is the current Chief Operating Officer. She’s really got a handle on finances, generosity, administration and how the three work together.
In this episode, Nadine talks about
What demographic they’re getting ready for
CLC’S 5 different ways to give
How much growth they experienced through digital giving
You can listen, subscribe or watch my interview with Nadine Raphael below.
The Generosity Labs Podcast is part of a new resource hub for pastors, providing free resources and information about digital giving. You can find more free resources here. A full transcription is below
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Did you enjoy this episode? Never miss another one!
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Kenny: Hi to all our church leaders tuning in today. My name is Kenny Jahng, and Generosity and Giving as it relates to the church is one of the biggest and most important conversations we can have across faith communities. And, that’s why today we have Nadine Raphael. So glad to have you in the show today, Nadine!
Nadine: Thank you so much. Glad to be here.
Kenny: So, Nadine, you’ve been with the Christian Life Center in Florida for the last 16 years, right?
Nadine: That is correct. Yes.
Kenny: I believe that you served a variety of roles: business administrator, community life pastor and now, most recently taken a role of chief operating officer.
Nadine: It’s correct. Yes.
Kenny: So, let’s just get right into it. Let’s hear a little bit more about you and your church. Tell us a little bit about what your role really means on a daily basis and what is your church community look like. If we were to come visit on a Sunday and sit down on a seat and look around, what it would look like? What would we feel like in your community?
Nadine: Christian Life Center has been around for over 40 years. Recently, we went to a transition as our previous senior pastor took the opportunity to raise up the next generation of leaders and then, move out into more international missions. Our current senior pastor, Pastor Tom Manning has been for this for 5 years. Prior to him getting there was pretty much a traditional older crowd that we knew. It was a strong crowd. It has been around for a long time, but we knew that we needed to connect more with younger families, young adults and things of that nature. And so, over the past 5 years, we have more of into just a melting pot from the youngest of youngs. We have a strong children’s ministry. Our young adults is a vibrant community of one thousand. And then, we have from young adults to obviously senior age. So we are populated for about forty-five thousand. Now, we are making a strong presence in the community just doing a lot of outreach events and mission events. We’re very vibrant. We are known for our worship style. It’s very engaging when people comes to our church. That is the first they said and talk about. So I’ve been here just transitioning with all of that being said to phenomenal senior pastor. And now, my role on a day-to-day basis is to oversee the entire operations of the church. We have four campuses. So, overseeing the day-to-day operations and being the lighthouse obviously in our community as well.
Kenny: It’s pretty cool. I think in that area is just fabulous. It’s a great place to be in.
Nadine: Oh, it is.
Kenny: Since you’ve been there for such a long time, what is the demographic span? I believe from my understanding, specially in that area, you have a good mix. It’s not one of those communities where it’s just older population or just young dynamic population. Does your church really have a cross section of decades?
Nadine: Yes. Not only decades but we also have 32 nationalities represented in our congregation. But, we spend, generally, like I said, we have strong young adults presence. And then our young families, 30’s and 40’s age group is also very strong in our community and then obviously our senior age. One of the things that I do want to point out is that we’re, — as I said, also an initiative for us — we are seen on a larger demographic of single parenting. So, we’ve used our church as a hub to help single parents, reach out to single parents, and counsel single parents on how to help parent their children all by themselves. That is a new demographic that we’re also seen growing not just in our context, but also across the United States.
Kenny: That’s really cool that your church is doing that earlier you’re aware of the changing dynamic of the community. Let’s talk about giving and generosity in your church. You’ve got a great compelling story. Tell us a little bit about that journey of transitioning donors online. First of all, what are all the different types of ways that people can give online? Can they give out paper, check and cash? Right?
Kenny: And do you have an offering basket that is passed or how that is working on given Sunday?
Nadine: We have an offering plate that gets passed throughout our services obviously. And then, we do have online giving; we have text giving; we have mailing giving; we have ACH giving. We have about 5 different ways that people can give. With the majority still, we did come from a traditional background, so, we did still have those that give by cash and checks. So we when we’re trying to make this transition, I’ll tell you honestly, our board members were concerned, those that are on our staff, they were concerned because they didn’t know. ‘Is this Biblical?’. How people were gonna response to this? You know the text said, “Bring your tithes into the storehouse.” How people are going to respond to this? And I was one of those sceptics, I’ve been around 16 years here at Christian Life Center. I was one of those sceptics who wonder, “Is it going to affect anyone that we’re trying now some electronic giving?” So, we decided, we needed to provide different ways probably different demographics from younger to older that not everyone carries around checks like they used to, not everyone carries around cash for safety. More and more people are using the plastic cards. So, we decided we needed to appeal to all ages and once we did, to be honest with you, what we saw was a large number of our congregation raised it. And not only that, we developed a new pool of giving of our first time givers watching online and started to give. And so, we saw a bump of 20% which was huge for us and then we realize, this was what we understood is that people wanted to give. It didn’t matter how they give. Giving is a thing of the heart and not a method. It wasn’t so much caught up in a method as it was God inspired me to give, I want to give back what he has given me and I want to make a difference. And so, they would just open to the fact that this is a convenient way for me to here and it’s also safe way.
Kenny: I love that. So there’s so many things to unpack here that’s so good. Let’s talk about those new givers. You’re saying that there are people that started to give for first time to your ministry electronically not in cash or check, the first transaction was electronic digitally.
Kenny: And, the count is 20% new audiences that you guys have reached.
Nadine: Yes, that’s right.
Kenny: What do you do there for the follow up? Are you finding repeat givers or it’s just one done?
Nadine: No. You have your few one and done. They watch our services online. They want to give that way. But, for the 99%, they are repeat givers. What we found was that even what we thought that it was going to be the younger/young adult generation, but, we also found that it was just young families. Even in our senior community, it was those as well. And I think what people started to find, to be honest with you, Kenny, is just the convenience of it all. It was just a click of a button. They added us to their mobile devices called CLC giving. They name it something like that. So each time we presented a project or when it’s time to give tithes and offerings, they just pick their mobile devices and click the button. And I do want to point something else out that we’ve found later on is that there were natural disasters that were coming up, emergency were coming up that the church wanted to participate in. That people weren’t in that particular weekend didn’t know that they were going into a service where there was going to be a pool or ask to give towards a natural disaster. So, they would have been prepared, but because we provided this way of thanksgiving they were able to participate in the moment. Some people would say, “Well, you know why I go home and next week, I participated in.” But, the moment is gone. The feeling, the tug of the heart is gone, so it’s good for them to be able to give in that moment.
Kenny: That’s quite awesome. So you have both directive giving and general giving. Do you have special codes? How do you know if you’re raising money for a missions trip or a disaster. How do you message that from the stage?
Nadine: Okay. What we would do is that we know that we had a giving towards Haiti or something like that. We would create a keyword called Haiti where huge of missions in our congregation would give towards local statewide and internationally. So, we would just create those keywords that represents those projects. So, when we would present the ask to the congregation , we would just tell them, “In order to give to this particular project, just put the keyword HAITI or put the keyword FLOOD.”
Kenny: A couple of things. Where does that planning start? Is it with the pastor? Is it the giving team? The finance? The actual ministry team? In terms of being able to say, “Hey, we should use a keyword and we should message.” The messaging from the stage on a Sunday is so cautious, right? What is that process internally and how long in advance is that? Does someone have to lobby for that? And how long does it take to to actually line the up keyword so that you guys can start using it?
Nadine: It’s 2 things. Basically 3 individuals, it would be the senior pastor, the business administrator, and myself. Once we know that there were project coming up, we’ll go ahead and get together and say, “What’s the best word for that?” It can be a text; it can be an email; it’s very miniscule. But, sometimes, we can have given in the moments. My senior pastors sometimes may be very spontaneous. From the pulpit, sometimes, he’ll say, “You know what I just feel that we need to give towards this particular family, or we need to give towards this particular project.” For our business administrator, from her phone, from her mobile device, and actually create the keyword while he was live on the platform and the people can give just like that towards that keyword.
Kenny: I love that. What system are you using for that to be able to make it that easy?
Nadine: We used CCB. You mean the background? We use Church Community Builder which is easy.
Kenny: Right. That’s one of the major players for the church managing systems. And then, for the text to give, what service are you using for them?
Kenny: Yes. They use a smart giving type. Let’s talk with the back operations there and some logistics. Let’s narrow it down a little bit. You have Kindrid giving. People message from the platform; people would give on a Sunday. How do you reconcile that into the CCB, your donor profile. What’s the process? Is there a data entry team? How do actually hook up the two systems together? Is that easy or hard?
Nadine: At one point, it was difficult before we started using Kindrid Text Giving. Because what would happened is people would give online through our 3rd party giving system online before we had text giving. And then we would have to match that person into the system. It will just a little of cumbersome. Through text giving, their name through the Kindrid, through their back system that they are using, it automatically matches the person in our CCB database…
Kenny: So, it’s not a manual process?
Nadine: No. Now, if the Kindrid system cannot find this person because it’s a first time giver, and our CCB database inputs them in a holding pattern to let us know, these are your first time givers. And, we can actually gain their information through Kindrid because Kindrid has forward their information and actually add them now to our database. So, we can send them a Thank You letter, send them giving statements. So, it has really helped us to stay in contact with us.
Kenny: That’s what computers supposed to do right? Technology supposed to make our life easy when you can integrate all that. That’s great. So, you don’t have multiple database that you need to look into for someone’s giving history?
Nadine: Oh no. We just have one database which is CCB. We can actually look at their giving, put out their statements, email their statements and it has every way that they given. Sometimes, the person may give cash. Sometimes that same person may give a check. And, sometimes that person will text. So, all of that is combined on their giving statement.
Kenny: And okay. So, that CCB profile has all the history in one place?
Kenny: Great, great. And so, you said that text giving is actually something that people have embraced, large percentage of the congregation actually ends up giving by text. What percentage is that at this point?
Nadine: Well it started a little bit above 30 percent that has embraced the giving. I mean, it started out 5 to 10 percent. I think it was important for the senior pastor to continue to present it from his speaking platform, and then to encourage them assure that is the safe way of giving. Kindrid also provided us a very clean 3 step process of how the member from the congregation can get their giving set up through text. And once we played that video in our Sunday morning services, it will just be easy for everyone else to follow soon.
Nadine: For now, it just continues to grow and even in our giving society, people are more comfortable now with carrying around plastic cards.
Kenny: Sure sure, now you said 20% new givers in your community which means it must be pretty easy in terms of instructions. It’s not some complicated manifested it to go through north to figure it out. On a given Sunday, during your offering time, literally, how do you message that text to give on the screens? Do you play that video every single week? Is it on envelopes? In the bulletin? What do you literally say to get people to understand the text to give?
Nadine: Okay. There are several different ways to people learn to different methods. What we’ve done we placed the video of how to give on our website. In our envelopes, our tithing envelopes is simple steps — a very simple step on the back of that envelope — so that they can give there as well. If they’re giving by checks, they can also know that they can give through text. In our tithe talk, we also communicate the number on the screen while we are doing our tithe talk. And we would just simply say, we have different ways for you to give. It doesn’t matter which way you choose. All is honored by God if given with a heart of thanksgiving. And we will put the number on the screen, and it has the 3 steps right underneath the number. But initially, when we were first going live with this initiative, we did play tt the video a few times and a few weeks in our services.
Kenny: But today, there is no need to put it on, and still, first time givers are actually lining up so, it’s not like it’s a complicated process it seems.
Nadine: No, not at all. Very simple
Kenny: Looking back, You said you are one of those that have hesitations at the very early conversation level. And, I think that’s what a lot of people who are watching today, listening into this conversation, they are on the same place. What was one of the biggest concerns that you have back then? Is it logistics? Is it finance? Is it the percentage? Is it the theology? What was the largest obstacle in your mind when you are thinking about the process for your church?
Nadine: The theology piece. I thought that there was a lack of — it wasn’t personal. So, I attached giving to — I don’t know. I guess because I was raised old-school on the church that you put it in the offering plate. So, I was caught up on the method and not the heart. Once I’ve reconciled that spiritually, that God cares about the heart and He does things differently and that can’t box it to say that this is the only way to be done, once I dump over that hurdle, I realized I could have been a blockage of allowing people to participate in the act of worship — given as the act of worship and I didn’t want want to come to me that thing.
Kenny: One follow up question about the actual experience, has total giving gone up, down, stay the same? Has there been a sacrifice? Has giving gone down? What is it like today?
Nadine: Our giving has increased every year. Every year we see a steady climb. At the close of 2016, we had our meeting actually, yesterday. And I just thanked God for the increase that he has granted to our church body. We have steadily climbed in our giving in our congregation.
Kenny: There are obstacles people talk about is that people are unwilling to give large amounts via text. Have you seen that as the numbers coming or is it only small digit giving that is coming through text?
Nadine: No, People give their tithe. Some people tithe monthly. Some people tithe weekly. We actually have a cool story. There is someone that was watching we have a heart for the house which is our visit day. Sermon series where we just go all in sacrificial giving. Someone was watching us online, I forgot what country they were in. They weren’t in the United States. And gave $50,000. They’re on online giving. We were shocked. This isn’t real. It’s gonna come back. It’s just a mistake. But, it was real. People are willing to give if the cause is there, if God is talking in their hearts. I don’t think it’s a matter of process. I think, again, it goes back to heart.
Kenny: I love hearing stories like that. Technology enabling ministry to reach worldwide and come together as one body. It’s a great story. So, thank you so much for your time. Let’s end this interview with a lightning round of questions, if you’re ready Nadine.
Kenny: A lot of leaders are watching or listening today because they want to learn. They want to up their game. What’s one good book, conference or other resource that you might have stumbled upon ora have been using recently that you can share with our audience today?
Nadine: Well, I actually subscribe to corporate business review. I’m a COO. And so, it’s just good for me to know what’s the latest technology, what’s going on out there in our world. I find that even outside the church people give towards charity and I want to see what compels the person who is not following God to give towards the charity or donations. And, so learning from different scopes not just in the church context but outside the church context has helped me further the initiative within our church.
Kenny: I love it. I’m actually subscribed to it, too, at HPR. Okay, what’s one big thing that you’re looking forward to in the year 2017 regarding your church community?
Nadine: I’m looking forward to more community presence. We do a lot of community outreach, I would like to see a scope further not just in the inner city. We’re strong in the inner city but also to those individuals that are in a homeless shelter. Those individuals that are not even struggling financially but they may be void of God and don’t know Him. And so I want us to see us partner more with different organizations to see how they can help our community and give hope especially in this times. There is just a lot of hopelessness.
Kenny: Great. The third question is where are you getting your inspiration and education around giving and donor development. Where do you look to at this point?
Nadine: I know this is going to sound cliche, but I’m sorry Kenny, it’s the honest truth. I looked to the Word of God. I see that giving is God’s idea. Everyone that He’s ever touched their heart. They became givers. And, so if I looked through the Scripture and see that not only did God compel people to give but He, Himself was a giver. And that helps me to know how to provoke generosity in others. I got to say this as well, Kenny. Sometimes, we are afraid to ask people to give, and it’s actually what people are waiting for. Because sometimes they see a big church or they see a thriving church, they say, they don’t need my financial help. So if we present the cause in front of them, if we present in the opportunity in front of them, people are ready to respond.
Kenny: That’s amazing. Thank you so much for all your insights. If people today wants to get in touch with you, what’s the best method to do that?
Nadine: I have a Facebook account. It’s Nadine Raphael on Facebook. I also have my email email@example.com
Kenny: Thank you so much for being on the show today with us.
Nadine: Thank you for having me
Kenny: And thanks to our audience who are listening into our conversation on digital giving in the church. Hope this episode has been useful to all of you. Do me a favor and like this episode and review us on the podcast iTunes. It really helps us reach more church leaders across the country on such important issue that affects the future of the church. Well that’s a wrap. I’m Kenny Jahng for Generosity Labs. ‘Til next time. Check out our website at generositylabs.org. And, remember when we give from the heart, that’s where the real giving starts.
In this episode of the Generosity Labs Podcast, we sit down with Jacob Paulkovitz, the Executive and Financial Assistant at Hope Fellowship in Texas. Hope Fellowship is a growing church in the North Dallas area.
You can listen, subscribe or watch my interview with Jacob Paulkovitz below.
The Generosity Labs Podcast is part of a new resource hub for pastors, providing free resources and information about digital giving. You can find more free resources here. A full transcription is below
Don’t Miss An Episode
Did you enjoy this episode? Never miss another one!
Find us on iTunes and Stitcher Radio
Subscribe on YouTube
KENNY: Greetings to everyone in podcastland today. Generosity and giving as it relates to the church is one of the biggest and most important conversations that we can have across faith communities today. That’s why we’ve got a special treat. Today, we have Jacob Paulkovitz. So glad to have you on the show, Jacob.
JACOB: Oh, you’re welcome. Thank you for inviting me on.
KENNY: So, Jacob, you are the Executive and Financial Assistant at Hope Fellowship in Texas. You just have this part and passion for really advancing the Gospel and others in that ministry. So, let’s get straight to it. Tell us a little bit about what your role is at that church and tell us a little bit about the church community. If we visited on a Sunday and we took a look around the seats, what would we see? What kind of community do you guys have?
JACOB: Sure. Absolutely. Again, thank you for having me and I appreciate to share this opportunity. I am, as you said, the executive and finance assistant here at Hope Fellowship. My job is to handle partly the finances, expense management, typical backend office stuff. But, then, also to kind of encourage new processes, new systems into the church, incorporating that ideas of new technologies that come into this world. How can we use that to advance the Gospel whether that is through just a new customer management or we look at membership management systems or potentially we could do that as well with the technology. That’s what I do for our church. Hope Fellowship is a multi-site church here in Dallas, Fort Worth area. We have three locations, right now. We run about 6500 on a weekend across those campuses. We are in the North Dallas area. It’s a very growing and booming area especially for younger families. Our typical age range is early adult, 25-35. That’s our kind of core range. Of course, it’s spread all over. Young families, of course. Kids is a big portion of our attendance as well. If you come on a typical weekend, that’s our demographic set you’ll see and that expands in all of our campuses. But, I hope you could still feel that it is warm and inviting. We are definitely very volunteer-driven on a weekend to all of our activities. We really push that whole idea just opening up to anybody, just giving them a handshake and a welcome.
KENNY: Nice. At what point did your organization or your church step into digital giving whether be mobile or text-giving?
JACOB: Sure. So, I’d classify digital giving, if that includes online giving.
JACOB: We started way back in 2005. It does kind of, some of those early adopters of church management systems are just introducing it around that time, maybe a few years prior, but we kind of caught on in 2005 and 2006. Just the online giving world for a little bit. It developed for us. We got a good portion of our giving gone through that. I came onboard on 2011. That’s also around the time, we really just stepped back and said, “How are people giving? What are new ways that we can offer people giving that really meet the need of the individual?” We all know that culture changes. It used to be that people carried around cash or checkbooks and that’s not the case anymore. So, we are now to the point, ‘Okay what’s the easiest way for them to give?’ So, going into 2012, we started looking at those things. We knew that kiosk giving had been around for a little bit. We weren’t a hundred percent sure on that, weighing the benefits of it. But them, we started getting introduced to the idea, ‘Okay, we’re grasping this idea of a small computer in our pockets every single day. How can we leverage that?’ Of course, we see all this stores and companies putting their apps out there, buying stuff in Amazon, Apple store or whatever that may be. They’re buying stuff on their phones so why can’t they give on their phone? So, going into 2014 and 2015, we started introducing a text-to-give platform force.
We used Kindrid, which is a very good and robust system for digital giving. It also includes text and you can also do an online feature for them. We started introducing that and man, right when we introduced it, we just saw the congregation really embrace it. Not that it’s our primary way of giving, it was not just 1 or 2 people using it. We had hundreds of people using it every single week. It wasn’t just people transferring their checkbook and their cash into doing it in a digital way while it’s good to because it saves us from the backend having from having to go and count all that and enter it into the system. But, it also just makes it easier for them and consistent with their giving. Because like you and me, we don’t carry cash and check every single day. Most of that your congregation probably does not. But, now that we can offer them a way to put their credit card information in and then, they could easily give when they want to, where they want to. It’s really caught on whether online giving or through a text-to-give platform.
KENNY: Now, for text-to-give, I think it’s about 2 years since you adopted it, right, in that timeline? Do you have any sense of what percentage of your giving or donations come through texting, text-to-give?
JACOB: Yes, we just kind of passed 10% of our weekly giving as coming through a texting platform. And then, to go along with that, about 60-65% come from online. And so, what I found really, really encouraging when we did adopt text-to-give — again, we weren’t just transferring people over — we saw a consistent number of people that were new givers. There are first timers and we send out first time giver email every week to say, “Hey, thanks so much giving. Do you have any questions? Please, let us know.” When we look over at the report who that went to and we see where they gave from whether it’s online, check, cash. We see this note of Kindrid, a lot. ‘Wow, they’re really giving through Kindrid’. We’re really offering that opportunity for someone else to engage in giving. And actually, really embrace that whole idea of generosity to the church and hopefully, they feel a little bit more connected to the church because of that.
KENNY: There’s a lot of people though that were making these decisions in churches and teams. There is always some obstacles or some voices that are playing in their heads saying “Look, it’s hard to go to from system where you’re receiving checks, taking a 100% of the collection and then to a point where you need to reconcile the fact that now, you’re going to give away a certain percentage to bank and merchant fees. Has that been an issue internally, in terms of your discussion, at all? What would say to churches that’s one of the biggest struggles, the obstacles before they get to the actual text or online giving solutions?
JACOB: Definitely a valid concern. I think people should look into that when they’re looking at the different platforms. There a lot of great platforms out there and they’re pricing a little bit different. But, really weigh in on what those costs really mean. Okay, so, I’m going to incur a few additional dollars and fees, but yet my giving is going to go up, much more than what those fees are.
KENNY: Have do you guys seen that? When you went from offline giving to online giving and then you adopted text-to-give, your overall giving superseded the incremental fees that you guys collected, right?
JACOB: Absolutely. I can’t give a percentage or how much or a tenfold or whatever, but it definitely was worth those small percentage points that you’re giving as a bank fee. We’re making now new donors or increased giving. ‘Cause if you’re going to think about it, if somebody gave — let’s create a scenario here — if someone gave weekly a hundred dollars cash. Yes, you get 400 dollars at the end of the month from that person. There’s no bank fee that have to go along with that or credit card processing fee. Let’s say, they miss a week because they’re sick or they’re on vacation. That’s only $300. We miss a hundred dollars there. But, if you offer that text-to-give platform or just an online giving platform, they can still give, whenever, wherever. And so, it’s a little bit more probable that they’re going to give a hundred dollars or four hundred dollars each week. Especially, if you can get them to scheduled giving where it automatically just charges their card or their bank once a week for a hundred dollars, then, I won’t say it’s cheap but again, it’s it’s a much higher probability. They’re going to give every single week from here or now whether they’re in the congregation or not.
KENNY: Right. So, does the text giving solution allow you to setup recurring giving as well?
JACOB: Absolutely. So, when you setup your text giving for the first time, it brings you to a screen. Of course, you put your credit card information in. It also offers an e-check option, if you want your banking information in a which is little bit cheaper if you want to look at that as a pricey point. So, they can put that information in and put a little bit other information in there. Then, you could give. So, at the very last option we ask, “Hey, do you want to set this up as a one-time giving or upon a monthly, weekly, or however.” There’s a lot of different options that can set that up as. They can do it that time or if they wanted to go back in, they can easily go back into that account and set it up. That’s how my wife and I do it. That’s how many others do it so, it’s a very convenient feature.
KENNY: Now, if you’re talking to a lot of people here that are considering digital giving for the first time, what’s the one thing that you would give as a piece of advice that they should be looking out for or they should actually really be concerned about or pay attention to as they transition in digital giving?
JACOB: I will definitely just tell them to look at all their features. And definitely, from a backend side, I work on the backend side with the finances and the reconciling, see how whatever platform you’re looking at and you’re interested, see how it does adopt and integrate with whether it would be your church management system or your accounting software. What were the accounting and reconciliation process kind of look like? Yes, we kind of look at that when we went in to Kindrid or online giving.
KENNY: What backend system are you using?
JACOB: For our church management, we use FellowshipOne, which does have a direct integration with Kindrid. Kindrid has a direct integration with it. So, it’s not that we have to go and record all of our donation from Kindrid and it just immediately posts to FellowshipOne which again makes the reconciliation process really easy. And also, when we send out giving statements,if someone gave by online half the month, or by text half a month or half the year, it’s all on one statements. We don’t have to send out multiple statements. Definitely, put that it into consideration when you’re looking at the platform that you want to use. That’s about it. And, overall, a lot of them are very church-minded they understand that and they are willing to offer those features.
KENNY: Thank you so much for sharing some of that nitty gritty and the overall experience. That’s really encouraging to hear more churches taking on digital giving like yours. Let’s finish off with a lightning round of questions if you’re ready?
JACOB: You got it. Let’s go.
KENNY: So, the first one is everyone’s building a list, as we go through and enter the new year. Can you share one resource that people should be putting on a top of their list, whether it’s a good book, a website, a conference, a resource they need to be looking for?
JACOB: I encourage anyone that’s on staff of a church to definitely have something that feeds into them whether that be — again, I’m working in the finance world — if you want a little bit more finance driven or just leadership driven. And so I look to a few different things as far as leadership training, and that’s Global Leadership Summit. I’m blanking on the name.
KENNY: Willowcreek, right?
JACOB: Thank you. We’ve just had jumped onboard going to some of their conferences the last two years. It’s very encouraging; very enlightening. That can open up to multiple different books that some of the speakers that they have. Another website that I look at is Leadership Network. They offer a lot of sessions and collaborations with other churches across United States that might be of similar size or similar obstacles that you may have. They can put you guys together in a room and kind of talk through some of those things. But also, they just put out some very good reports on the church and the status of the church and then also maybe pointing in the right direction on what you need to be looking at as the next steps. We’ve been a part of that going in a month or so to look at a little bit more multi-site strategies again and so, just really looking forward to that as well.
KENNY: What’s one big thing that you’re looking forward to 2017 regarding the church?
JACOB: It’s just the opportunity for growth in our area, not just in getting more people in the door, which is more seats and chairs means more people having the opportunity to hear the Gospel. But, we ultimately want people to grow in their faith. We ultimately want them to grow in their generosity, whether that it’s in their time, in their money, just in their everyday, just showing goodwill to others. Hopefully, we kind of get to see that in our community that we can make a little bit more of impact and share. I’m definitely more excited about that. I’m also kind of a techie guy. I’d like to see what new technology can come available and how the church can use it and just see what some of those developers come up with, whether a brand new developer that’s very small, just making a name for themselves or some of those bigger player names. What do they incorporate in their current existing platforms that can benefit us.
KENNY: Love that future forward posture. Where are you getting your inspiration and education about giving and donor development these days?
JACOB: I mentioned a few of those a little bit more on the leadership side. Leadership Network offers some tools as far as giving. And also, out of those platform that we use, we use Kindrid, FellwoshipOne, they typically will offer some insights to, “Hey, start maybe looking at this. These are the trends that we’ve seen. Are you seeing the same trends?” They help keep you on track and see how your giving is increasing compared to others your size. So many, many churches, they have that data available, too, and see other churches are using it. Not every churches are the same, so, we understand how the church is gonna have the same results. But, it’s at least something to compare it, too. So, definitely look at those other platforms. The last one is connecting with other churches, whether that it is in your geographic area. Just see how those churches are doing. Connect with their business managers or their pastors and said ‘Hey, what are you guys using? how effective is it or is it effective?’ And, they’re probably having the same demographic in their seats every week. If they’re seeing a high digital giving experience where most of the donors are giving that way and you’ve not seen that, maybe you can start to evaluate what is it they’re doing different that may help you. I think that’s a really good way to go. We have at least 3-4 churches that I talk to. Probably on a monthly basis so just to say how is it going but then, also sharing different ideas.
KENNY: So, good. Thank you so much for those insights Jacob. Thank you for being with us on the show today.
JACOB: Oh, you’re welcome. Thank you so much, Kenny.
KENNY: And thank you to our audience for listening into our conversation on digital giving and the church. Hope this episode has been beneficial and really been useful for you. Do me a favor, like and review this podcast episode today. It really helps us get the word out to more church leaders across the country on such an important issue that’s facing the future of the church. Well, that’s a wrap. I’m Kenny Jahng from Generosity Labs. ‘Til next time. Check out our website at www.generositylabs.org. Remember, learning to give from the heart is when you really start.
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KENNY: Well, hey there! I’m Kenny Jahng and this is the Generosity Labs podcast where we are interviewing church leaders, across the country, innovating in areas of generosity. Today, we’re going to meet an executive pastor that has a fantastic story of how they are raising the roof in terms of giving and generosity for their community. And, I’m excited to get to it today. We have Craig who is the Executive Pastor of Highland Park Church in Florida. Great place to be. And after a career in sales, Craig had a history of helping startups innovate and get off the ground. Craig joined the staff at Lakeland in 2015, married to wife Barb for over 36 years, three grown children. And, we are glad to have him as a resource, here. Welcome to the show today, Craig.
CRAIG: Thanks Kenny. It’s good to be with you.
KENNY: I gave a little bit of some background. But, tell us a little bit about the Craig story, how you got into this ministry in particular, and why don’t you give us a picture or a snapshot of what Highland Park looks like on a typical Sunday?
CRAIG: Okay. I’d be happy to. Our lead pastor, Brett Rickey and I have been friends for about 15 years. He actually planted the church in Oklahoma, back in 2000. Shortly, after he started that church, we started to attend because our daughters met in the fourth grade, so we got to be family friends. Brett moved down here to Lakeland to become the lead pastor at Highland Park church in 2009 and we kept in touch, you know, talking about college football, you know, whatever our common interest were at that time. And, he called me up and said his executive pastor was retiring and he was looking for somebody to come and help him. We’ve had a history of being in ministry together, as well as a being good friends. So, long story short, we moved down here April of last year, and joined him and his staff. Highland Park Church is a fairly large church in our area. We ran about 2300 in attendance on a given weekend. We have a Celebrate Recovery Service on Friday night. We have a Saturday night service. We have three services on Sunday morning. Our mission is to lead people to love God and to love others. And, so we’re thrilled to be here and excited about what God has in store for Highland Park Church.
KENNY: So, busy weekend for your teams in Lakeland, Friday, Saturday, Sunday Services.
KENNY: We’re going to talk about a little bit about the giving story at your church. But, you guys, have already been ahead of the curve, I think. Previous to adopting some of the new technologies recently, you already have online giving available for your people, right?
CRAIG: That’s correct. For a number of years, we’ve had giving kiosks in the lobby of our main sanctuary, and also in our family ministries building across the street. And, people were using that for a number of years where they would swipe their credit card or give online through our web page. And, we probably saw 35 to 40% of our giving come through those portals. So, it wasn’t anything really new to people, however, we’ve started to encounter some issues with that particular platform because it ran over Windows XP. And, so we have some security issues as well. So, we’re looking for a better solution. One of the things we wanted to add was the ability for our members and our attendees to give by text.
KENNY: Now, can you tell us a little about the typical age range of the people that attend on a Sunday?
CRAIG: Well, it’s a wide range. We have a very vibrant middle school, youth ministry, kids ministry. We have a strong Millennial and Gen X, really, attendance.
KENNY: You got a wide section of people and families
CRAIG: We have folks — we are a 62-year-old congregation — that attend that were there in the very first service.
KENNY: It’s incredible though that with that type of demographics, you still got 30-40% of digital giving participation. What do you do with those people? Do you have an offering plate that you hand out or even passed in the aisle or a kiosk offering from the back? How does that work?
CRAIG: We want to give people plenty of opportunities to give and not everybody wants to give online. My wife, for example, she feels better writing a check, still. So, we pass a basket down the aisle at every service, and so people have the opportunity to give that way as well.
KENNY: Got you. A lot of churches have just the kiosk in the back or a place or drop a check, etc. That’s an active part of the liturgy on a Sunday morning. And, is there any sense of, if 30%, 50%, at what point do you stop passing the offering basket? Have you guys thought about that? That’s something that I had a recent conversation with another church pastor. They have about 70% of giving that is online, at this point. The question is when does that become obsolete?
CRAIG: You know, I don’t know that it ever does? We were in startup churches where we’ve had bubble gum buckets at the front of the stage and have people get up out of your chair and come and drop their offering in that bucket. The bottomline is that it’s really not a function of how you do it but it’s just that you do it. I mean, giving is an act of worship. We want people to feel comfortable giving in any way, shape or form that they are comfortable in doing.
KENNY: What I’ve loved about the story of your church is that you guys adopted text giving recently. When did that happen?
CRAIG: I think we started it in January/February time frame of this year.
KENNY: So, you have a little bit of time now.
CRAIG: Absolutely, yes.
KENNY: When it first was introduced, was it a quiet rollout? Was it a big splashy rollout? How did you notify people that that’s an option?
CRAIG: Well, we thought was important because it was a new way of giving. It was important for us not to just tell them but actually show them how simple it was to set up text giving on their smartphone. So, during the services, one weekend, we took 5 minutes during the announcement and the offering time in which incidentally we feel it’s just as important as worship or the sermon because if it’s not, then we shouldn’t be doing it. It leads people to an active worship. We took five minutes. And we have our tech team set up the video to where I kind of walkthrough. I have my smartphone in my hand. And they could see on the screen while we were walking through, how simple it was to set up initially the ability to give by text. And, we had people that hold their phones out, right there. Because they can use it anywhere whether they are using a digital version of the Bible or tweeting during the service or whatever. So, it’s not a big deal in our church for people have their phones out. They just followed along. Many people had set up as I was walking them through it.
KENNY: Yeah. I was talking to a seminary student recently, he said that one of the things that they noticing when they’re going to preach or teach is not to be distracted by seeing tons of people having their heads bent down on their phones during service.
KENNY: You guys really had intentional time during the announcement time. What was the type of results did you see in terms of that? Was there any push back? Was there positive results in terms of adoption? Do you have any sense of the giving go up or down?
CRAIG: Absolutely. Probably, the first month we saw an increase in our digital giving. But, more importantly, we had about 10% of increase in new givers.
CRAIG: People that had never given before in Highland Park Church started to give on a regular basis and using this new portal of text giving.
KENNY: You are actually creating a giving experience for the first timer people. It’s important. Right? Giving is part of our spiritual discipline.
KENNY: What service are you actually using to implement the text giving?
CRAIG: We partnered with Kindrid. We found out about them because we look to other large churches that are doing things that are maybe a little bit ahead of us. Some of those examples would be Life Church, Craig Groeschel’s church, Saddleback Church, Willowcreek. We glean a lot of leadership and just ideas on how to do ministry from those who are a few sets ahead of us. That’s how we found out about Kindrid as we talk with them. There are other benefits. One is a secure platform as well as integrated with our church management software. We actually save time in our finance department. We went from having to manually enter in all of those digital transactions to one that just exported or imported into our church management software.
KENNY: Which church management system are you guys on?
CRAIG: We use ACS.
KENNY: So, it’s fully integrated system. So, if someone gives via text that shows up in their giving profile in the backend.
KENNY: Perfect. That sounds great. Is the church offering is the only area that you guys are exploring to use the service or is there other applications for this in church life?
CRAIG: People give for a variety of reasons. We’re a very missions oriented church, too. We have a school in Rwanda, and we support many different ministries here locally as well as globally. So, people want to give to that and they do in a regular basis. So, it’s very simple for them to put in the amount. They put in MISSIONS, right next to their amount and send the tect and it goes toward missions. Doing the same thing when they want to send their kid to camp. You know, Kindrid, gives us the ability to set up keywords that they can use to give to specific things.
KENNY: Can you tell me a little bit more about this? There’s keywords that you can actually define in a custom level?
CRAIG: Absolutely. We probably have 8 or so, right now. Whether it’s missions or in Rwanda or when they want to give specifically to that school, HP-YOUTH which is what we use to designated to our youth ministry. If they want to give to camp, they can put YOUTH CAMP, if they want to put kids, they can put KIDS CAMP. They just use those keywords along with the amount that they give and it goes directly to that. And it does account to our tithes and offering, it counts towards those particular ministries.
KENNY: Wow. That’s interesting. And so, how are you communicating those keywords? What’s the typical scenario that those keywords are used or communicated?
CRAIG: Everytime we ask people to give to specific cause, we put up on the screen on the service what that keyword is. Let’s say, if you want to give to support missions, you can use your text-to-give option and just use the keywords MISSIONS, or whichever the keyword is. As long as we communicate it to them, then it’s not a problem.
KENNY: What are your thoughts on 2 or 5 years from now, do you think people will still be writing checks and using cash or is it gonna be via credit card swiping or is it stuff like this as text giving?
CRAIG: I really see this as kind of the way of the future. Again, we’ve had kiosks for a long time and now we use essentially giving everyone kiosk in their pocket. So, that they can give via their smartphone. I have three grown children. I ask them if we have the text-to-give option, will you give to this church? Absolutely, we would use that portal. They don’t carry cash. They don’t even have checks. And so, they give everything through digital, whether it’s through Venmo, whether transacting to other people, whatever. That’s their culture.
KENNY: Yes, it is. Venmo is how people give each other money these days. And so, the people that have adopted text giving, do you have any sense? Is it just the millennials and the young ones? Or are there people across the spectrum that are actually using this mode of giving at this point.
CRAIG: It’s across the spectrum. I was talking to a gentleman just a few weeks ago. He is my age and he has teenage children. So, he’s a little younger than I am. He stopped me and said, “Man, I need to send in a payment for youth camp, and I used Kindrid for that and it was so easy.” He got an immediate response back. “We received your payment, bla bla bla.” So, he was thrilled with it. It just makes life so much easier. When you can take away the obstacles from people in giving, then they’re going to give.
KENNY: Kindrid, their product is called Smart Giving, I think? Is that the name of it?
CRAIG: That’s the brand name they use.
KENNY: Is that the brand name they use? Are you literally communicating Kindrid and smart giving, renaming it or changing to something else highly friendly or something like that?
CRAIG: No, we use smart giving, but, typically, when we receive the offering, during our weekend service, we put a little graphic on the lower third of the screens that has a picture of the smartphone and it just says text GIVE to and then the number that they designated for us and typically, the folks that have done it before they know what to do. They don’t need to do GIVE. They just give the amount. But, for the first-timers, they can just text the word GIVE and it will respond back to them and will go through the easy set-up process so that they can do it from then on.
KENNY: The average church in America is much smaller than yours, right? And don’t necessary have all the resources. I can sense there’s probably a lot of church leaders or pastors that saying, “Nah, that’s for big churches, etc”. Can you talk about just how difficult the process within the time from start to end of the integration or set up? You know, what did that look like from a very practical basis? Did you have a committee? What was the process?
CRAIG: I was actually very shocked at how simple it was. When we contacted Kim to do this, they set us graphic for our worship folder, for our digital forms of communication. They gave us a script. They gave us everything that we really needed and so we decided to use all that in addition to the walkthrough video for rolling it out. And then, we put that in a form of an email and send it to all of our members the following week. That had it embedded the video of the walkthrough that we did on the previous weekend. They are very thorough, always helpful.
KENNY: How long did it take effect?
CRAIG: Within the day, we had it setup. It was not difficult at all. The interface ACS was very simple. Our finance director was involved with that. She would comment at how easy that was to set up so, even small churches can do it. They don’t have a large staff. It doesn’t take much time at all. I think the benefits far outway the time that it takes to get it setup. I want to encourage anybody to use it.
KENNY: Let’s take a look at some of the downsides. You know, I’m sure there has some pushback or some grumblings or something. What are some of the things that you’ve heard, or you’ve felt or even a friction in any of the process?
CRAIG: With any kind of a change, there’s always some resistance. We used our giving kiosk,s for example, for a long time. People would walk into the lobby. As they’re walking and they’re plugging out their credit card or debit card, and they walk over and they slide it through and any kind of change to that process, creates a little bit of confusion. So, for the first couple of weeks, we would have one of our first impressions folks, standing over there by the kiosk to help people use this Smart Giving system or kiosk. We don’t even need that anymore but because people are accustomed to walking over to a stand kiosk and giving that way, we’ve kept iPads set up in the lobbies for people to give that way. Slowly but surely they’re are adopting the new system. And it really hasn’t caused much trouble, other than that. The resistance to change.
KENNY: Basically the kiosks have it removed effectively from the system?
CRAIG: Well, the old computers Windows XP kiosks were. We decided to keep a space some form of kiosks in the lobby just for those who are used to seeing something to help them navigate, okay, you can do this now on your cellphone.
KENNY: Mobile, I guess, it’s like an iPad stand that you have?
KENNY: And is it just the mobile version of the the giving?
CRAIG: It’s the same version that we have interfaced with our website now. Every form of digital giving goes through Kindrid, now. We benefit in that way because it all feeds directly into our church management software. And there’s only one thing we want to interface with and that is Kindrid. That’s awesome.
KENNY: What about branding, colors, customization, what’s your sense on how much flexibility there is?
CRAIG: Very simple. We sent them our logo. We told them exactly how we wanted them to set it up and they showed us how we can change it and that’s very, the colors. There are plenty of colors to choose from, so our web portals matches exactly what our branding is.
KENNY: What would be the number one downside, number one upside of this transition of smart giving with Kindrid?
CRAIG: The downside is just the resistance to change particularly from the older generation that maybe have a concern about using their cellphone, maybe they don’t even have a smartphone but have a cellphone. You know, that’s probably the downside. The upside is that it’s all integrated in any form of digital giving and it’s simple. It’s the type of technology people or younger generation are accustomed to using now. It makes it far easier for them to give when they want to give, whether it’s at home, whether they’re sitting on the service, wherever they are, they could give. It really helped.
KENNY: Now, what I found very interesting, you know, it surprised me earlier, you said that you said it lit up brand new first time givers in your community. It’s just interesting. It’s just the change of the mode of transaction will actually call someone to take that last step to do it. I’m wondering, I guess, this is a little bit early. But, do you anticipate that you’ll raise more money to the offering plate or all the giving solutions like this at the end of this year that you anticipated earlier or is it just a change of mode of giving or is there something else going on with it?
CRAIG: No, I think it’s just the ease of giving. As a church, last year, we have document over 750 newcomers that came to our church the very first time. And so, those are the types of people that especially the younger generation, if they wanna give on impulse, right there, doing it, they can pull out their smartphone and do so. They don’t have to have their checkbook with them if they even have one. Again, we’ve talked about, not everybody carries cash anymore. It just makes easier mode for people to use to give on the spot. I think that’s critical and that’s where we’ll see our growth. You make it convenient? People will use it.
KENNY: And your preaching pastor, didn’t have any concern? Do you do your offering before or after the sermon?
CRAIG: We do it before.
KENNY: Is there any concern from your preaching pastor, you’re asking to take out their cellphones and then you go into the sermon, you know, there’s distraction. This thing is distracting. Is that a concern at all?
CRAIG: No, not at all. I am the executive pastor and I use my smartphone to follow along. He incites the Scripture and I’m pulling it up in my new version app on my smartphone. It’s very typical to see that and that’s just part of the culture to where we are. If you’re not comfortable with that then, you need to get comfortable because it’s gonna happen. You want people in the word, right? How they can get it that’s how you want to use.
KENNY: That’s awesome. Are you ready for our lightning round of questions as we close up this interview?
KENNY: The first question is, especially as an executive pastor, you’re looking, I’m sure, at leadership development all the time of yourself and your teams. what’s a good resource that you can share with our audience today that has caught your eyes recently, whether it’s a book, a conference, a speaker, something that our audience today can partake in.
CRAIG: Coming up in August is Willowcreek’s Global Leadership Summit and last year, we were a host site for the global leadership summit and it made a world of difference just for our staff as well as anybody that considers themselves a leader of a church. So, we’re hosting that again and I want to encourage anybody to go to Willowcreek’s website and navigate through their global leadership summit site and find out where the whole site is nearest to them. It’s an awesome summit. They have probably a dozen or so, speakers. Some are ministers. Many are business leaders that are well known. I want to encourage people to do that. That’s what we’ve done. We also go through a leadership book with our pastoral staff every week. We go through a chapter. We’ve gone through the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell. We’ve gone through Courageous Leadership by Bill Hybels. We’re going through a book called Finishing Strong by Steve Farrar, right now. So, those types of things are available to anybody.
KENNY: Awesome. Great list of resources for anybody here to pick up if you haven’t gotten those books especially.
24:46 In terms of mentoring and leadership from afar, outside of Willowcreek, who do you have your eyes on ministries in terms of learning from and soaking from other ministries or leaders of churches in the ministry space?
CRAIG: Rick Warren at Saddleback is somebody we constantly go to. We send teams up there on a regular basis, just to get a sense of a bigger picture to think outside the box of what we typically get caught doing here in our own little world. So, that’s one. I read Dan Reiland’s blog almost daily. He is an executive pastor of 12Stone Church and that’s been a valuable resource for me, personally, as an executive pastor.
KENNY: Awesome. Great resources. Thanks for sharing it with us. The last question is, if people here today are watching or listening and want to get in touch with you, what’s the best method for them to do that?
CRAIG: I want to encourage people to e-mail me. My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
KENNY: Thank you. This is Craig Olson from Highland Park Church. It’s been a pleasure talking to you and experiencing going through that experience of converting over to text giving. Really appreciate you sharing your wisdom and your experiences today.
CRAIG: Thanks Kenny, I appreciate the opportunity.
KENNY: Thank you everybody for listening. And, in this next episode of the Generosity Labs podcast, we’re going to interview another church leader that’s going through a similar transition, and I think you’ll be surprised in terms of the response and the results that they’ve gotten. I’m Kenny Jahng, host of the Generosity Labs podcast. Find out more details and resources at generositylabs.org.
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KENNY: Hey everybody! I’m Kenny Jahng, host of the Generosity Labs podcast. Thank you for joining us today, as we travel across the country meeting with church leaders that have gotten the vision for digital giving and installing a culture of generosity in their community. Today, we’re fortunate to have a guest here today from Tennessee, Matt Allen. Welcome to the show, Matt.
MATT: Hey, thanks for having me, Kenny.
KENNY: So, Matt, let me just go over your bio. It’s fantastic. We’ve got you as a Creative Arts Pastor at Thompson Station Church, father of three girls, Baylor University Alumni in which I can forgive because you are a Duke basketball fanatic. I’m the Blue Devil myself, so, yes. We need to talk about basketball after this. Thank God, it’s not March madness during our conversation. Your self boxes include “all people are creative”, “good soundtracks matter” and “Blue Bell Icecream”. Tell me about that last one!
MATT: It’s the best icecream brand. Everybody in the country has it, so, it’s a Texas thing. I was born raised in Texas. If you’re going to buy icecream in the grocery store, it’s a brand to get.
KENNY: Once a Texan, always a Texan.
KENNY: So, let’s get right into it. You are at Thompson Station Church which is a little bit south of Franklin in Tennessee, a little ways off from Texas. Tell us a little bit about your role and the church there. If we were to come in your church and visit on a Sunday, what does it look like? What’s the demographics in the feel and the vibe of you church?
MATT: Sure. We’re definitely a family focused, I mean, it’s a fairly large church, you know, just kind of depending on the background that could be anywhere from 1400 to 1800 people here on a given Sunday. We’ve got three services. We’ve got one satellite campus just south of us in Columbia, Tennessee. So, those happened at the same time. There’s just a lot of great energy and you know very, you know, current worship style, relatable teaching and we’re really big on getting into serve in some way, whether you serve in the next generation or with younger ages or you’re serving alongside with adult connect groups. So, once you’re plugged into one of those teams or both, that’s really when you kind of start to feel a part of the Thompson Station Church families.
KENNY: Love seeing ministries where teams teach you to put your faith into action, right?
KENNY: Tell us a little bit about the role of a creative arts pastor. What do you oversee and how does your week work?
MATT: There’s a lot of things moving for every week. So, I have the privilege to be in our communications team, our worship team and our technology teams. That’s just kind of a natural fit of how we as those three areas kind of interweave and work together throughout the week. The primary responsibilities are just working with our teams for the weekend experience, you know, working with our Senior Pastor for sermon series and just kind of, just how visually we want to represent that or whether in video projects that are featured again on the weekend or just may be other ways. And, so, all the different pieces of social media and communication things to branding to help him with the website. All those things wrapped into one working with a team of staff. And our church has been raising a team of volunteers to help utilize as well to help their gifts kind of reflect the same message that we’re showing.
KENNY: That’s awesome. Never changing landscape in your role.
KENNY: So, that’s one of the things we’re talking about today. We’re talking about giving in the offering plate and the fact that your church is one of the churches that has taken the leap of faith and gone into online and digital mobile giving. Tell us a little bit about that. Does it happen only on your website? Does it happen in your services? What does that look like in your church?
MATT: Right, when I came on staff, we were obviously giving the traditional route, you know, via check or cash or have that made like in the traditional envelope, you know, in the services or anytime throughout the week. We still have those envelopes. We’ve adjusted them a little bit, but that’s always a method to collect giving donations from people in our community and our church. And then, we had online giving as well. so that very similar to kind of like an online banking or online any kind of donation. You got a username and password. It’s all secure. And then even you can schedule re-ocurring payments, if you just don’t want to worry about it, just like you would automate any other bill or donation you may have that you give to each month. So, those are in place in about a year ago. We actually launched. We research for a while some good partners to use for text giving and we launched probably about this time last year, just another option to give which would be text giving just because so much of our communication is done via text message. So, we just wanted to really offer that option and for me… I was actually at a conference. We were talking about it and thinking through what just a simple way. I was actually at a conference and had the opportunity to text give at that conference and it was so simple. That was one of the… I found out who the company was and set up. This is something that I want to review to see if it’s going to be a good fit for our church. It happened to be that after we talked through everything, reviewed everything. There were several other companies we looked at but we used Kindrid. And, they were the best fit for what we needed and how we wanted to roll it out.
KENNY: Got you. And I think Kindrid has their smart giving solution and that’s the name of their product/service, isn’t it?
MATT: Yeah. They call it Smart Giving. You can kind of customized it based on church if that resonates but we just want to make it clear. We always refer to it as text giving so because we do have online giving in place and we just want to be real crystal clear with our language of how we do that. So, we rolled it out about a year ago. And really, for the first couple weeks, we knew the rollout was important and we didn’t want to just mention it in the bulletin or put a flyer up on campus. We really did take time from our senior pastor in the service to say, “Hey, guys! We just want to offer another simple way for you to give and just to make… for you.”
MATT: So, we actually had, you know, kind of a little demo. And, we saw it from another church. Another church kind of rolled it out that way and said, “That looks good. I think that would go over well with our people.” So, while our senior pastor is you know, he get his phone and said, “I want you guys to come follow along with me. I’m going to show you how easy this is.“And, he liked the kind of joke with him and said, “If I can do this, you can do it.” Me and my non text-savvy self. Basically, if he can send a text message. You can do it. Obviously, you do need a smartphone, you couldn’t text it from a non-smartphone. We know that most of our people and most of our church, we see them try following along, you know, making notes in their smartphone or even following along with our Bible app outline. So, we were already talking that way, anyways, and we knew that there was that basically that was already part of our culture.
KENNY: You planned it in a service to explicitly call it out and explain it and the senior pastor was the one that did it.
MATT: Yes. And, it was probably around the offering time and we just said, “Hey, this is just another option.” I want to say, Kenny, the first couple of times we did it, we even just said, “Just test it out and just text a dollar. So, just kind of see how this works.”
KENNY: Wow. That’s a good idea.
MATT: You know, so that there’s no… Before you type or put your normal giving, a larger gift, we said, “Let me show you this. Our Senior Pastor walks through it. This is what you do. Here’s the four steps.” We created some visuals that were really simple that just was like, TEXT this number. Text any amount to this number and you know, hit send and you’re going to get sent back the link to complete. Once you complete that link with your name and your card information, that’s all you have to do, so the next time… The first step is kind of longest step. So, as he was talking, we showed it on the video screen what it looks like with the bubbles going back and forth. Just to really give a good visual of what this looks like. And so we said, “We invite you to join with us now. You can just text a dollar just to see how this works and if it is convenient for you and if you would like to give this way, it’s just as secure as online giving and it is super easy. So, once you complete that form, the next time you want to give, all you have to do literally is text that number, dollar amount, confirm this amount, you’re done. It’s just so easy.
KENNY: So, you did it more than one Sunday. You repeated it a couple of times.
MATT: Yes. I think for 2 or 3 Sundays in a row. We mentioned it clearly and I say, “You know probably 2 out of those 3 was our senior pastor on the front or back into that, may have been somebody else as they were kind of welcoming and giving the announcement, we are so excited, we got this new avenue for you to give. So if this resonates with you and it’s easy to do that but text messaging if that’s part of your world, we’ve got you that. If not, you can completely give, if you are comfortable, traditionally, you know, through a check or cash or with online giving if you’d rather do that. So, we just left it open like that. It was very well received. Of course, you’re going to get kind of some questions around. ‘Is it secure? I don’t know’. But, that’s why we wanted to really lower the bar and say, “Hey, just test this out and you can see how this works. Just text a dollar if you want just to kind of see.”
KENNY: Right. So, those questions or concerns Are obviously expected. Is there any real push backs? No, you shouldn’t be encouraging credit card usage or pulling cell phones out in the middle of churches or radical. Nothing like that?
MATT: Yeah, No. For the most part, no. I think. We do encourage them like, “Hey, we would love for this to be connected to your debit card. We don’t want anybody to go in debt. That’s not what we were encouraging.” But, most of the time when you’re giving online or even traditionally, via check, it’s pulling from your checking account. So, we would just say, “We would encourage you to set up that same format as it is with text giving. It’s just really easy.” And, honestly, I’ve heard a lot of comments about people saying, “Hey, that was kind of fun.” You’re busy, you’ve got 3 kids. You know I’ve got 3 kids in the family. Sunday mornings can be hectic, we all know. And that’s when everything in the world can go wrong, wardrobes, everything, dog food, all that kind of stuff. And so, getting your checkbook as part of what you’re doing Sunday morning is easy to the cracks. You know, honestly for me, I don’t even carry my Bible. My physical Bible would usually be with me on a Sunday morning that followed along on my phone. So, we knew that we could see that more and more. Just as an offer of convenience to say, “You can do this. This is simple as a text and you don’t have to worry about logging into a website or anything like that. All the backend is completely secure.”
KENNY: Nice, so, now, let’s talk about your role in communications. I want to dig a little bit deeper. Where in the other places in the universe of Thompson Station Church do people ever get prompted with that call to action. Do you actually printed it in your bulletin? Do you actually mention it every week during your offering time? Does it physically, literally get mentioned that you can either give into the offering plate or text online? How does that actually manifest itself literally?
MATT: Sure. In that first season, really in the first year, and probably for the first six months, it was pretty loud and in a lot of places whether it was campus posters. We have some clean posters that are in our restrooms around the campus that just said, ‘TEXT GIVING: Now, available. Try it out and see. Here’s the number. Here’s how it works.” Just a good visual to show people how it looks like. So, that social media pushes, we have announcements slides that run before and after the services depending on what’s going on. And the Sunday Service, they roll through all of the offering and goes as well. So, that visual was always there usually during offering time unless something else maybe in its place for that week. Then, at the time we were also doing kind of some video announcements and so we would add that in as well, “Hey, text giving is now available at Thompson Station Church. It is as simple as sending a text. It’s just as secure as online banking. You know, that kind of thing. So, some of our internal people felt like they heard it a lot over and over again but that was intentional, you know. And, so, we probably back off now that it’s been in place for about a year. You may see some things kind of different seasonality. Kindrid really did great job. They will offer you tools to say, “Here’s a generic template and you can edit it.” or “Here’s a little bit towards Summer Time: Hey! Summer Time. Don’t forget. Text Giving is still available.” So, you can add that in there.
KENNY: Does your website prompt it?
MATT: Yeah, our website, last year, this time, we had a different template, so we’ve relaunched our website and kind of re-skinned it all and rebranded it and so, it still on the giving page. So if you click GIVING, it really just says, “Thanks so much. This is really what generosity means to us and it is in our culture when you give and here’s the ways you can give, 1 2 and 3.” And, so it really just spells out the traditional way, the online way and the text giving way. And even with a text giving, there’s a video. Since it’s the newest thing, there’s a quick little video that you can watch that just really explains how easy it is. That is always there, front and center we cycled that through and then the other ways that it’s probably gotten mainstage you know focus is a couple times. And this, last year, we’ve call people to give to a specific thing. There may be a local need that really rises up.
KENNY: Specific designated need.
MATT: Yes, so the cool thing is that we did is we rolled it out, gosh, for a while several months, just generic, and then, we introduced the fact that you could have associate it to a specific area. If you text your dollar amount and the word MISSIONS, this money will go specifically to this account.
KENNY: Got you.
MATT: And if you forgot to do that, you know, it will basically go to our general account but we have that time that we didn’t confuse the message around like, if I give is it always going to missions, if give it always going to the general fund to Thompson Station church. So, we’ve had some fun around just missions focus and missions conference and say, “There’s a local need, right here, guys, and what would happen if everybody in the room gave $5 to this.” I’ve got some,, if I could pull this up, we did that just as an example last Fall. Just ask people to give a small amount like $5 or $10, you know, to what was going on. Just in that one Sunday we came across, we had 156 first-time givers.
KENNY: First time givers?
MATT: First time givers. That was just, they never have given to the church at all before but that was their first entry. And, so again, it was something small. It was easy. We raised around like almost $4,400 in one Sunday for that specific cause. We thought it was really successful.
KENNY: How hard or easy it is to set up a keyword for that type of campaign?
MATT: Super easy. So, a couple of key people on staff you know kind of setup the desktop against tool version of this very simple, really easy to use and so, it was very simple. What we love about Kindrid is it’s kind of dummy-proof. And, so let’s say the key word was MISSIONS. You’re telling people and say, “Text to this number, dollar amount, MISSIONS”. Well, it doesn’t matter if you put MISSIONS dollar amount or dollar amount MISSIONS or a dollar sign or not. It’s going to take it. And, if you misspelled it, it will automatically generate back to you like, “Hey, I’m not sure what this meant. Can you confirm where you want this to go?” And so, we’ll give a clear direction of what to do but the backwards pairing of that goes through your way.
KENNY: Nice, that’s really good to hear.
MATT: Yeah. We’ve been able to do that and that was one example we did last Fall. And then, the Spring, we had another specific collection that we have coming up for just some campus renovations and just some new things that need to be.. We called it, we were in this summer flex period. And so, we were renovating a lot of space that needed to happen so, we just wanted to call people say, “When you give to this, it’s going to go specifically to these renovations to move. We’re moving some of our ministry teams around in new spaces, so they just kind of have to be re-purposed and remade for the age that’s going to be needing those spaces.” So, our ways, we left traditional online, or traditional giving, available You know, we all say, you can also text give and we just kind of gave that keyword. Keyword. Text amount to FLEX. And, it’s going to go here. So, we said that in communications and letters. We said that from the platforms to say, you can give that way as well. One thing that I went back and looked at is it when the giving was over, I looked at the number and you know, still traditional gifts were the highest amount of participation in the traditional gifts, but text giving had surpassed online giving in this. So, the number of online givers was the smallest group and text givers actually surpassed them in amount of participation. Traditional gifts, then, text giving, and then online giving just for that specific kind of offering for that specific fund. I thought it’s interesting that in less than a year, text giving have already surpassed that specific call.
KENNY: That’s so interesting. I wouldn’t never have guessed that.
MATT: And again, I just think because it’s easy and we’re just telling you how. And that’s people, you know, following the directions on putting that keyword in there.
KENNY: Nice. Thank you for sharing all those insights and experiences. Are you ready for our lighting round of questions?
KENNY: So, we got a couple of three questions. One is especially as a creative arts pastor, you’re in the thick of things, you’re always looking for inspiration, is there any podcast, book, resource, leader that you follow that you could share with our audience to help inspire them?
MATT: Yeah I mean, that’s kind of a loaded question. I mean, I love to read. I’m just not in the habit, right now. I’m actually finishing all the books that are on my shelf. One of the books in the last season that really helps bring clarity is a book that I love and is called Less Clutter and Noise by Kem Meyer. It’s just great for any person or any space that’s kind of in that communications or creative role of their church that really kind of help validate the cause of what you’re trying to do. Everybody’s got the same goal but sometimes it’s just the methodology or just the way that you’re trying to accomplish it may not be as successful as what you wanted to be. So, that’s a great read and then as far as just visually I mean I love just following other churches that are really just doing it well. Whether they’re in your area or across the country just via Instagram. Instagram is one of my social media just because it’s so visual and it’s got photos and videos and now stories a part of it. So, you can kind of get a glimpse of what other churches are doing and how they’re engaging their audience. You can just continually learn from and try to figure out how does that relate to you and your group and how can you relate to audience and just and your space and your region of how you can only do that. Just following along there is probably a lot of fun and I get a lot of great inspiration that way.
KENNY: Love that. You always want to be looking on things on Instagram as a perfect resource for that.
MATT: You know, does that belong for your group or does it not? Is it relevant or not?
KENNY: Okay, second question is dead or alive, if you could sit down and have lunch with anybody who would that be?
Wow. That was a tough one. ‘Cause I want to pick somebody like at this far-off place so I can just travel to like this you know like this castle in England and like here, you know, like, how the life was from somebody that’s completely different than me. Man, that’s tough. I may pick. Gosh, I don’t know if I could pick one person. I would pick maybe some awesome movie director like JJ Abrams or Peter Jackson like, go on location in one of the movies they film.
KENNY: Good choice.
MATT: Like you’re involved. You’re living in a different country for like seasons. And you are building this massive story that you want to be able to connect with audiences.
KENNY: Love that choice. Last one is, if anyone listening in today wants to get in touch with you directly, what’s the best way to do that? Is it Twitter, Snapchat, E-mail, snail mail, Carrier pigeon. How can they get in touch with you?
MATT: Yeah, probably the best way would be my email address which is email@example.com. That’s probably the fastest way to catch me.
KENNY: Awesome. Thank you so much for spending some time with us today. It really is a blessing for you to share your practical experience of walking through how you guys communicate and roll out text and online giving. Thank you so much for sharing with the community.
MATT: Yeah, thanks Kenny. Thanks for having me.
KENNY: Everybody thank you so much for joining us for today’s episode. Watch out for the next one. You’re going to be pleasantly surprised about what we reveal in the next interview here on the Generosity labs podcast. Get this interview transcript audio and video downloads and more at generositylabs.org or subscribe to our podcast on iTunes or Stitcher Radio. Thank you so much. My name is Kenny Jahng, host of Generosity Labs Podcast. Catch you next time here. Have a good day.
It is astonishing how many churches and nonprofits are still ignoring the trends that are happening NOW in front of everyone’s eyes, not just in “the future.”
One of the most critical shifts happening right now is how we use currency (or lack thereof) and how people are using digital devices for online and mobile payments for everything, everyday. That goes for charitable giving as well. People are using online giving, text giving and mobile giving more and more each month that goes by.
If you are raising funds and ignoring digital options, you are shooting yourself in the foot. Take a look at these 5 infographics that reveal more about the opportunity you have if you just started to adopt online giving and mobile giving this year.
What is holding you back? Your assumptions? Your theology? You laziness? Let’s be honest and have a conversation about why you are choosing to be left behind.