More and more churches these days are offering online donation options on their websites. It’s true that there are many factors to consider when doing this: security, payment methods (credit/debit cards or PayPal), accepting donations via text messaging or a mobile app, and more. This is not a technical article. This is about more of the fundamental mindset behind online donations. That is: why? Should your church even provide such an option?
Even if you are a small or relatively low-tech church, I believe that you should strongly consider offering online giving. The technical aspects can be worked out once you and your church leaders have come to a decision that online can giving can benefit both your church and your congregation.
1. People can give on days besides Sunday
There’s definitely power in corporate giving, just like corporate worship or prayer. Offering online giving options is not intended to take away from tithes and offerings given on Sunday morning. If a church member is not able to attend one week, or is simply motivated to give and it’s not a Sunday, then having a donation button on the church website provides an easy solution. Some people might prefer to give their tithe on payday, which likely is not a Sunday. Online giving enables these people to give right away, rather than having to wait till Sunday. This not only makes it easier for the one giving, it also gets the money to the church faster than waiting for the once-a-week donations.
2. People don’t use cash or checks as much anymore
The socio-economic and moral implications of a society that relies primarily on digital money instead of hard cash is a topic for an entirely different article. But whether we like it or not – and whether you as a pastor encourage it or not – the fact remains that fewer and fewer people use cash or checks on a regular basis. Credit cards, debit cards, electronic transfers through banking services like PayPal – this is how a lot of people handle money. Many churches do have offering envelopes with space to write credit card information, but this can be tedious. Keep your envelopes for those who use them for cash and checks during the service. But for those who want to pay electronically with just one or two clicks, an online donation capability helps them to stay connected to the idea of giving.
3. People from all over the world can give
Some churches have a national or even international reach simply because they offer the sermons online or they have a powerful presence on social media. If your church’s mission has prayer support from people all over the world, then the next step is to make it possible to receive financial support. Also, some churches have members who have moved away, whether short-term for a job or military deployment, or permanently. Even if these people regularly attend a church closer to their current location, many still love the opportunity to continue to support other churches and ministries where they once attended.
4. People are encouraged by ease and convenience
See point numbers one and two. Convenience is a major factor in many people’s decision-making process, and that includes their decisions about tithing and giving to the church. For those who are accustomed to moving money around digitally – whether it’s traditional online shopping on retail websites, or buying apps and music on their phones – they want it quick and easy. If someone is moved to give, the easier it is to do so, the more likely they will be to actually follow through on their generous impulse. Many people have the best of intentions, but there are so many factors in today’s society that can derail even the most generous person: they were late to church that day and missed the offering, they forgot the checkbook, they stopped to get gas and used up all their cash, and so on. Online giving options help to remove some of these hurdles so that people can give quickly and easily whenever they are inspired to do so.
Widening your church’s giving options benefits both your organization and the people you serve. The easier it is for people to donate to your church, the more likely they will be to do so. Your church can receive donations from many different sources on a constant basis.
If you have decided to take your church to the next level with online donations, then take the time to research the various technical aspects of this, as well as budgeting for the cost. Even with an initial time and money outlay to get your website set to receive donations, the long term results will benefit your people, your mission, and your organization.