By: James Lawrence
You don’t need statistics to know that mobile usage has exploded in the past five years. All you need to do is look around your lobby after a service. But, just for fun, let’s look at some statistics anyway:
-81% of adults use their phones to send and receive text messages
-63% of adults use their phones to access the Internet
-58% of adults are smartphone owners
-34% of adults say their phone is the primary way they access the Internet
Even more shocking, is this prediction: by 2018 it is anticipated that 80% of all web traffic will come via mobile devices.
And yet, for some reason, many churches continue to view mobile technology as a threat as opposed to an opportunity. This is especially true when it comes to giving.
Four years ago, as the CIO of The Rock Church in San Diego, I proposed that we take a proactive approach toward mobile usage on Sunday. As a result, we built out our Wifi access to accommodate thousands of simultaneous users, introduced interactive features in our bulletins, and we made mobile giving a visible priority to the congregation. Since that time, our online engagement and electronic giving has grown exponentially.
Whatever situation you might be in at your church, below are four more reasons why you should start getting serious about mobile giving today.
1. Because micro giving can have a major impact
One of the best examples of this principle in action is the Haiti earthquake back in 2010. In the months following the quake, The Red Cross raised over $43 million in text message donations alone. One $10.00 pledge at a time. Better still, 56% of the Haiti text givers went on to donate again from their phones in the future. This illustrates another signature benefit of a mobile giving strategy: it is an on-ramp to new givers and repeat giving.
The Rock Church has also focused on micro giving by encouraging its people to give up something and text a financial gift instead of spending money. We’ve received thousands of gifts, some of which were actually quite large. The amount isn’t important. It’s all about the heart. And, the fact is, when you use mobile tools to create new opportunities for your members to give, those little gifts can add up in a hurry.
2. Because faster giving leads to more giving
I read a study recently claiming that 80% of online donations which take longer than 30 seconds to complete are abandoned before they’re submitted. This underlies an important reality that we’re all well aware of: attention spans on the Internet are measured in seconds, not minutes. Within this paradigm, even the seemingly speedy act of going to a computer, navigating to a website, and filling out an online form may be enough to scare off potential givers.
This is the power of mobile giving. Text gifts can be completed in less than ten seconds. Giving apps and mobile-optimized forms allow donations to be made in as much time as it takes the barista at Starbucks to finish your latte. Consider the success companies like Amazon and eBay have unlocked with their one-click checkouts and other time-saving techniques, and ask yourself, “What can we do to make generosity that easy?” If I can pay my phone bill and update my Facebook in under 30 seconds, it shouldn’t take me more 60 seconds to give to your church.
3. Because generosity shouldn’t be limited to Sunday morning
Here’s one thing that has always confused me about the approach so many churches take to giving: they’ll talk frequently about the importance of stewardship and of “living a life defined by generosity” but then they relegate the moment where generosity is actually practiced to the fringes of their Sunday morning service. They sneak the offering in between the announcements and the sermon while a soloist belts out “Amazing Grace” and then they move on. (As an aside, the Rock Church moved its offering to the end of service and no longer passes the plate. This has resulted in greater giving and more folks using technology to give.)
Mobile giving expands the “generosity moment” to encompass every minute that a potential giver is in contact with their mobile device. Which is to say: 24/7/365. By turning mobile devices into conduits for giving, churches are able to capitalize on the best intentions of their givers. There is no disconnect between the desire to give and the action. Wherever and whenever an opportunity for generosity presents itself, your givers can respond. Quickly. Conveniently. Generously.
4. Because “all the other kids” are doing it
Remember those statistics I mentioned earlier about mobile usage? Well, it should surprise no one to learn that those numbers get even more extreme when we focus only on 18 – 29 year olds.
-85% of Millennials are smartphone owners
-94% of them use the Internet everyday
-Among Millennial smartphone owners, 87% say their phone never leaves their side
-And over 1/3 of them (34%) say they have entirely replaced their personal computer with their mobile devices
Not coincidentally, these same individuals are also some of the least engaged givers in your congregation. But they don’t have to be. While Millennials are often (and unfairly) labeled as selfish and apathetic, much of their lack of involvement can be blamed on churches clinging to out-dated methods and language with their giving. Mobile technology can do much to bridge the gap.
Your members are already using their mobile devices to read their Bibles, take notes, and follow along with the sermon. Why not provide an opportunity for them to exercise generosity using those same devices?
About the Writer
James Lawrence currently serves as Executive Pastor of Innovation at The Rock Church in San Diego, one of the largest churches in America. James is also a co-founder and board member of Mogiv, a mobile and cloud-based giving technology for organizations engaged in ministry. He blogs at JamesLawrenceBlog.com. Check out Mogiv on Facebook: http://facebook.com/mogivinc and Twitter: https://twitter.com/