Last week at the close of the year we were attempting to make a final contribution to our church. The problem was that we had run out of checks. We typically only write a few checks a month and those are to our church. With no checks to put in the mail before the 31st I told my wife to go online and see if we could contribute there. Our church, which has a good website, has no ability to allow donations online. So, we had to go to the bank, get a cashiers check and drive to our church before their offices closed. How many donors in your church would go to that much trouble? Very few.
Lest you think I am being unfair to my church let me tell you that few churches have online giving available to their members. Those that do often tuck the site away where you have to hunt for it. When you make it difficult for people to give you should not be surprised when giving declines.
Think about it. How many checks do you write? Most people now pay for nearly everything electronically. Yet the church, ever behind the times, refuses to admit the obvious, that how people utilize money has changed. We have changed from cash to checks from checks to plastic and now from plastic to electronic in a relatively short time span. With the rise of Smart Phones we will soon see the replacement of billfolds. That is not something in the future it is happening now, today. Entrepreneur magazine reports in their January 2012 edition that in 2011 mobile commerce sales hit $5.3 billion up 83% from the previous year!
How will this impact the church? We are in the midst of a technological revolution that is changing the way we live. Few people now carry cash or check books with them. Yet churches still primarily depend upon the offering plate or basket to bring in the majority of their donations. Unless churches change the amount taken in the weekly offering will continue to decline as we become more and more antiquated in our approach. We have to make it easy for people to give!
Five Ways to Make it Easy for Your Members to Give to Your Church
1. Have an online giving portal that is clearly visible and easy to use. If you have to hunt for it then it is not easy. Online giving is easy to set up and will generate additional funds if used properly. Don’t just set one up and leave it, advertise it and drive people to the site. As we approach the winter season and services potentially are cancelled an online giving portal could save you from losing all of that cancelled services donations.
2. Consider installing giving kiosks at all key locations around your church. One of my clients takes in $2K a week through their giving kiosk. They are now considering adding additional sites utilizing iPads that allow people to easily access their website and give while at the church. With services like Square http://squareup.com you could easily design your own giving kiosks utilizing iPads.
3. Design an App for your church that also has a giving option within it. I am right now working with a group of guys to provide this service to our clients. In the next few weeks we will be announcing a webinar that will give information about this. Email me at Mark@TheCharisGroup.org if you would like to be included.
4. Set up automated giving. EFT’s (Electronic Fund Transfer) are not difficult to set up. Your church then receives regular gifts from your members even when they are on vacation!
5. Include postage paid offering envelopes in every snail mailing you do. I know this article is mostly about online giving. Yet the fact remains that direct mail still generates millions of dollars a year to charity. The same can happen for you if you provide donors the ease of simply mailing back to you their offering.
Touch to Pay Offering Plates? I no longer use my Starbucks card when purchasing coffee. I simply pull out my phone hit the Starbucks app and then hit the Touch to Pay button and have them scan my iPhone. What if we could do that for our offering plates? I just got off the phone with a guy that is working on that design! Holy Smokes, the future is indeed now!
Its affordable for even the smaller churches. Don’t think that these things are only for larger churches. You would be amazed at how relatively inexpensive it is to do all this. So don’t think it is only the large church that can pull this off. You too can do it too.
It is time we make giving to the church easy. When you make giving easier then you will receive more donations. The times are changing. Are you?
Founder and President
The Charis Group
PS. If you want to be included in our upcoming webinar about Apps for churches then email me at Mark@TheCharisGroup.org