The collection of “tithes and offerings” seems like it has always been a part of worship.
Yet the offering plate only became commonplace in the 19th century, after the American government ended state support for churches in the 1830s. After that, the collection of offerings gradually became a fixture of each service, and many have come to expect it just as much as they expect prayer, singing, and preaching.
Passing the church offering plate, as it's called, has become the primary way for members to support the mission of their church. However, this method of giving hasn't been perfect.
Not only can the plate only accept physical assets (like cash), but also many followers desire greater transparency, simplicity, convenience, and privacy when giving their money. Additionally, there are plenty of stories that reinforce negative perceptions about the church offering plate.
Given the rise of mobile technology and online donations, it makes sense for churches to digitize their giving. It will make people more comfortable to give money and it will expand the reach of your offering plate.
Every year, churches miss out on lots of money because they don't meet their donors where they are. After all, 54% of donors prefer to give online with a credit or debit card, and 25% complete their donations on mobile devices.
So, if you want to implement other ways to collect donations, consider these seven alternatives to the church offering plate.
As one of the largest online and mobile payments platforms, PayPal makes transferring money from one party to another fast and easy. Folks will be able to donate from their phone, computer, and even in-person to your PayPal account. Also, your members can easily track what they gave and you can maintain an accurate picture of how much you've collected. PayPal also supports churches through their Giving Fund and provides tax receipts, making it one of the best alternative s to the church offering plate.
Churches must set up a nonprofit PayPal account for accepting donations. PayPal offers discounted rates on fees for registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations. Rates are currently 2.2% + $0.30 per transaction, and you won't have to pay a monthly fee.
2. Website Donations
Go to the Red Cross website. Within seconds, you can donate money to the organization. They make it straightforward, transparent, and quick.
You must do the same for your church. By setting up an online giving platform on your church's site, you could increase your recurring giving by 39%, according to data from NewFire Giving. That's more money for church services and activities, mission work, community service initiatives, infrastructure upgrades, and more.
A sleek payments app for P2P transfers and purchases with merchants, Venmo literally makes giving money fun. Owned by PayPal, the app is incredibly popular with millennials, and therefore could encourage members from that generation to start supporting the church's mission.
Setting up a Venmo account is free and easy. Keep in mind bank transfer limits Venmo has, and remember to track contributions for tax reporting.
4. Text to Give
You certainly know that texting to give has become common, especially for helping out during a natural disaster. There are many tools out there that you can integrate with your church's bank account or giving platform.
For example, NewFire Giving has created the SecureGive platform, a free app readily available in app stores. Through the SecureGive App, members can search for your church and then donate money with the click of a button. This streamlines giving at your church, and gives you a private, seamless avenue for collecting the money you need to support your ministry.
5. Giving Kiosks
Looking for a physical (yet digital) alternative to the church offering plate? Then set up giving kiosks at your church. Compared to a church offering plate, a kiosk is less awkward, more secure, feels less forceful, and enables your volunteers to focus on more meaningful activities.
Having a giving kiosk on site will also bring in more contributions. According to research from NewFire Giving, the average gift when using a church donation kiosk is 24% higher than when using mobile. Clearly, major donors like the tangible nature of a kiosk, as well as the control it offers compared to a giving plate.
6. Online Fundraising Platforms
You've definitely heard of how people have used GoFundMe to raise money for a personal issue or cause. Such platforms give you access to a broader audience and enable micro-giving on a large scale. No wonder folks can have so much success on them (if they do their campaign right).
When thinking about alternatives to church offering plates, consider online fundraising platforms designed specifically for donation campaigns and nonprofit organizations. For example, Donate.ly, a fundraising tool for nonprofits, offers reduced fees for churches and a great user experience for donors, who can easily set up recurring donations.
7. Church Donation Management Software
With so many alternatives to church offering plates, you may worry that the giving process will become disconnected and tough to manage. Thankfully, church donation management platforms can help you unify the entire operation so that you can improve efficiency and maximize donations.
NewFire Giving has created an innovating church giving software solution. Through NewFire Giving's platform, you can:
- Receive donations online, via mobile app or text, or from a giving kiosk (aka an “ATM for Jesus”)
- Create donation categories, organize giving campaigns across multiple campuses, and generate giving reports each quarter
- Develop custom church branding (studies show donors are 42% more likely to give when the donation page matches the look/brand of the church)
- Ultimately surpass your church's funding needs
Optimizing Giving at Your Church
Digital tools, like donation apps and giving kiosks, will encourage giving and streamline the donation process at your church. When combined with the church offering plate, you'll ensure your church offers everyone a way to contribute in a manner that's appropriate for them. And this will make maximizing funding at your church much more likely.
The only thing left to ask is: Are you doing everything possible to meet your church's funding needs?