This week we visited a landmark in the town, mainline denominational church.
The architecture was historic and beautiful. As expected, almost everything inside felt like a time warp. Homage to tradition and legacy. But not much evidence of evolving and contextualization with current culture.
There’s much sadness when stepping into these ministries that seem destined to become museums as this last generation of booomers and older disappear.
One of the things that I always look for is signs of the church giving its congregation options for giving.
Well there was no mention of text to give, mobile app given, or other mobile directs option to give immediately, the service bulletin did make reference to an online donation button on their website. “YES!” at least they do take donations online.
The next step would’ve been to make it easier for people to give in the service, not on the web. Finding the donate button on the church website and going to the process of giving online was tedious. This time consuming. And unnecessarily distracting from the worship service anyone would be sitting in.
That said, this church did have a bulletin insert which featured an option for people who do give electronically. You could use that quarter page insert to place into the offering basket as a symbol of your commitment to support the church financially.
I’ve seen this in a couple of churches before. There are two perspectives on how you can look at this practice:
The first way is to knowledge the awkwardness of receiving the offering plate and having other people see you pass it along without contributing anything. While you should not be concerned about how others perceive you, especially if you are actively giving to the ministry, there is a part of you that wants to make sure no one mistakes you as a slacker in the community! You get it, right?
The second way is to think of it from a very positive participation point of view. I think it is an interesting way to physically involve everyone that is giving during the offering time in the liturgy.
There is something to be said for the physical ritual of everyone putting something into a shared plate that gets passed around to every single person that’s part of the church body and membership. There is sort of a “Book of Acts beauty” to such as shared participation activity by everyone in the community.
Personally, I might consider using some sort of simple open ended question form that captures a prayer or space for encouragement to the ministry that people can write on the card that they drop into the Offering Plate during the physical giving time via check or cash.
In the end, I am encouraged that this church is offering some sort of digital giving solution for other people.
Let me know if your church does something similar or if you have seen this in the past elsewhere.
LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW TO SHARE WHAT YOUR CHURCH enough church leaders are talking about the nuances of embracing online giving with details such as the online giving placard for the offering plate.
One of the most common comments or hesitations that I hear from church leaders regarding adopting credit card giving pertains to credit card transaction fees.
Typically the price you pay for being able to take credit cards is usually about $.35-$.50 per transaction plus somewhere around 2.9% of the actual transaction amounts.
Ask any CFO, they hate that much money leaving the church without any other options.
Today, I had a chance to visit another church in my area.
They had a woman host the announcements and offering part of the Order of Service.
This church does offer texts to give as an option, but curiously did not push it or even mention it from the stage. So that’s not the part that they are doing well.
But I did hop onto their giving page which was printed on their giving envelope available in the back of seat pockets.
There, they had a FAQ list that stuck out when I was scanning the page:
WHAT THEY ARE DOING WELL
The question they decided to include asked:
Will 100% of my online giving go to the church?
And then they used that opportunity to explicitly list their transaction fees for taking credit cards online.
I think this is a great tactic to help address the internal concerns that usually come up arguing that by offering online giving, you will end up giving up a significant chunk of it to fees unnecessarily.
SIDE NOTE: This base argument is a fear-based and scarcity minded approach. Experience shows that overall giving increases as soon as they pull the trigger in offering credit card based giving options. You will receive more giving incrementally than the 2.21% utilized to receive funds through that channel.
WHAT THEY CAN DO BETTER
While it was great to be transparent about the transaction fee so that some supporters will proactively use other methods to maximize every penny of that goes to the church directly, I don’t believe it is then only or best counsel they can provide.
Pushing people to go to a physical check or cash methods in order to eliminate 100% of transaction fees seems odd and very shortsighted.
Instead I would reword that FAQ to contrast credit card giving versus ACH giving (giving via echeck). For this church, that’s only a 0.64% fee. Saving over 71% of potential transaction fees.
PLUS, most leaders don’t consider the cost of collecting cash and checks, sorting, counting and sending someone to physically deposit them. It doesn’t seem that you could do that for less than 0.64% of the cash & check collection amounts in most cases.
So I would also use it as an opportunity to reinforce the option of recurring. electronic giving.
Regardless, the tactic to appreciate here is how they explicitly shared the specific transaction amount credit cards would trigger.this allows them to present the options in the way that’s not guilt infused and puts the options in the hands of the giver.
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.
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!
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.