There are a lot of myths about the effects of digital giving. Some of those myths encourage churches to stay away from technologies that let members donate through text messages, kiosks, apps, and websites. Others paint an overly-optimistic picture of how quickly digital giving can grow a donation base.
It’s time to dispel seven of the most common digital giving myths. They are crippling your church by preventing you from making smart, informed decisions.
Let’s set the record straight.
1. People Prefer Donating Cash to Churches
As a kid, you probably watched deacons or other members of your church pass around collection plates. People added cash money and checks to the plates to fund the church’s mission.
Do you believe that people still prefer donating cash money? That belief could make it harder for you to reach your funding goals.
People Carry Less Cash Than They Used To
Surveys show that people carry cash less often than they used to. According to research from U.S. Bank, 50% of consumers carry cash less than half of the time. Even those who keep money in their wallets tend to carry less than $50.
As society moves away from cash-based exchanges, churches will find it increasingly difficult to solicit donations. Digital giving software makes it easier for people to give money to their churches without stopping at ATMs on Sunday mornings.
Digital Giving Helps People Track Tax Deductions
Donating to church can help people lower their tax burdens. They can only take advantage of the tax benefit, though, when they itemize and document their deductions.
The IRS doesn’t put a lot of trust in taxpayers. It wants to see a proof before it accepts deductions. With digital giving, your donors get electronic receipts. That means they can get their tax deductions, and your office staff doesn’t have to provide receipts to individuals.
2. Digital Giving Software Charges Too Many Service Fees for Churches to Afford
Companies that make digital giving software must charge fees to make money. Some churches believe that the fees will cost too much for them to afford. For most churches, though, that isn’t the case.
Increased Donations Make Up for Service Fees
The fees that you pay a software company will take a small portion away from your donations. Fortunately, digital giving can increase your overall contributions. When you increase the amount of money coming into your church, you make up for the service fees charged by vendors.
Trustworthy Processors Keep Fees as Affordable as Possible
Software companies understand that charitable organizations have limited resources. The most trustworthy payment processors, therefore, keep their fees as affordable as possible. They need to earn money, but they also need your church to thrive.
NewFire Giving helps make digital payments affordable by giving you control over the services you use. Some of the company’s most popular options include:
NewFire Giving doesn’t force you to use options that you don’t want. Instead, you choose the digital giving opportunities that you think will fit your congregation best.
In the end, you get affordable fees for giving software that matches your needs.
3. Only Big Churches Benefit From Digital Giving
Since digital giving software often charges a monthly base price and takes a small percentage of each donation, people assume that digital donations only work well for huge churches.
Big churches, of course, bring in more money because they have larger congregations.
Small churches, however, need to invest in software so they can accept more donations from people. Even with a small congregation, it doesn’t take long before you cover the monthly cost of a digital giving app.
Small Churches Benefit From a Larger Base of Donors
When your church can accept digital donations, you automatically increase your donor base.
The most recent data from the Pew Research Center Religious Landscape Study show a decline in attendance at church and other religious services. People are more likely to go to church a few times a year instead of attending once per week.
Members of your congregation probably don’t donate cash unless they attend a service. With digital giving, though, they can donate money to your church even when they can’t come to Sunday service.
Former Members Can Keep Giving Digitally
Former members of your church may still want to give you money and watch you succeed. If they have moved to a new neighborhood or city, though, they may find it difficult to visit.
You can use your digital giving platform to maintain relationships with former members and encourage them to donate.
With digital giving, you have a way to get more money without taking people’s time. Even people who have moved from your congregation to another church may see the benefit of donating to your small church.
4. Churches Can Expect More Donations as Soon as They Launch Digital Giving
Digital giving opens your church to a whole new way of receiving donations. That’s exciting news!
Which is why you need to keep your expectations in check.
Some members of your congregation will probably love the idea of text-to-give or donating money through an app. Others might dismiss the idea completely.
Most people will fall somewhere in the middle. After seeing other people donate digitally, they will give it a try. If they like it, then they will keep using software to fund your church.
How long does it take for congregations to adopt digital giving?
It varies significantly from church to church.
You can, however, help congregants open up to the idea by encouraging them in newsletters, emails, text messages, and after sermons. Explain the benefits that they get from digital giving. A lot of people will find those benefits appealing.
Some people will never try giving to your church digitally. That’s okay as long you grow your overall donation base and bring in more money.
5. Young, Tech-Savvy Church Members Don’t Have Much Money to Donate
A study from the Federal Reserve shows that Millennials typically have less wealth than their parents. Poor economic performance, high college tuition, and other factors make it difficult for Millennials and younger people to do things like buy homes and start families.
A lot of non-profit organizations assume, therefore, that young, tech-savvy people don’t have much money for donations.
When you assume that young people who are likely to use digital giving don’t have even money, it makes sense to target older people who prefer using cash.
Fortunately, Millennials belong to a philanthropic generation that enjoys giving money to worthy causes. They don’t own as much wealth as their parents, but they give a high percentage of their salaries to the causes they believe in.
Young Donors Are the Future of Churches
Even if young people can’t afford to donate as much money as their elders, churches still need to address Millennials. Eventually, young people will make more money, which means they will have more to donate.
Using digital donation software today helps young people develop the habit of giving. If your church shuts them out today, then they will find a congregation that welcomes them.
Instead, embrace the future by understanding that the donors you create today will continue to help your church in the coming years. Without the ongoing support of today’s young people, your church won’t have anyone donating money to it in the future.
6. Individuals Don’t Give Enough to Justify Digital Giving Apps
A survey by America Magazine finds that 25% of respondents donate $50 or more to their local parishes per week. Over a year, those respondents give their churches at least $2600.
An additional 23% say that they donate $21 to $30 per week, which comes to at least $1092 per year.
Only 14% of congregants say that they donate $5 or less per week.
The cheapest NewFire Giving plan that includes giving software costs $147 per month. Even if your donations stayed the same after adopting digital giving, it only takes one of your $50+ donors to pay for your software.
It’s more likely that investing in digital giving software will expand your donation base.
How many people donating $5 or less per week simply don’t have enough cash to pay more? Perhaps they want to give you $20, but they don’t have enough cash on hand. Digital donations would make it easy for them to increase their giving.
You can also use digital giving apps to remind members of your congregation to donate money. Members can even set up reoccurring donations. You get money from them whether or not they come to service this week.
As you can see, some individuals give more money than you think. A lot of churches rely on donations from individuals. You don’t have to get a huge amount of money from a business or business leader. The weekly money from your congregants adds up quickly.
The amount will add up even faster when you give people more ways to donate money.
7. Your Biggest Donors Want to Use Checks
Undoubtedly, some of your biggest donors will want to give you checks. Checks make it convenient for them to track their donations. Checks also make it possible for them to donate large sums without carrying a lot of money with them.
You can’t use this as an argument against adopting digital giving, though.
Churches Need Multiple Donation Streams
Would you tell your church members that they cannot donate cash because you prefer large checks? Of course not!
When it comes to cash and check donations, all churches understand that they need multiple streams of giving. You don’t deny one resource just because another option provides more money. You take as much as possible so you can keep your church funded and support your community.
Multiple donation streams have become more important than ever.
In 2018, 35% of the American population didn’t identify with any religion. Just 5 years before that, only 30% of Americans said that they didn’t identify with a specific religion.
The trend looks even scarier among young people. More than 40% of Americans between 18 and 44 identify as “nones,” which means that “no religion” has become the most popular religion.
Many of those young people will find their faith as they get older. Still, churches need to prepare for a future with fewer believers. As the religious population shrinks, churches will need as many donation streams as possible.
Digital donating gives you one more tool to reach your church’s financial goal.
Final Thoughts on Digital Donations
NewFire Giving creates new donation opportunities for your church. Request a free consultation from NewFire Giving to learn more about how digital giving options can benefit your church.
You may discover a new donation source that helps your church thrive.