A growing number of churches are now looking into different ways to raise much-needed funds. Gone are the days of simply relying on a collection plate to fund maintenance and staffing costs. Online giving for churches is more prevalent than ever.
But a lot of churches are struggling. In order to survive, they need to explore new and innovative ways of raising funds — many of which are online.
By promoting online giving, you can open up a completely new revenue stream for your church. Here are 10 tips to get you started.
1. Create an Eye-Catching Website
If you don't already have one, launch a website to create an online hub for all your charitable programs. Keep it simple and easy to navigate, and fill it with images of your church and your congregation. Most importantly, give people a reason to keep coming back, such as regular updates, a blog, and transcripts of your services.
Place a giving button in a prominent location on your website. Make it eye-catching, big, and obvious. If online giving for churches is simple and quick, more people will give.
2. Promote Online Donation at Every Opportunity
It's important to tell churchgoers about all the different ways they can donate online. There are several ways to do this, and they're all very simple. For example, you could make one or two announcements during a worship service. You may also want to mention online giving during the offering.
If you don't already have one, create a bulletin or newsletter. You can make digital and paper copies for regular distribution to your worshippers. Be sure to include detailed instructions about how to donate online. Use your social media accounts to keep people informed, and print informational flyers to hand out at the end of every service.
3. Hold a Digital Offering During a Service
Some of your worshippers may not be familiar with the process of online giving for churches. A great way to teach them how to give is by holding a digital offering during a service. Ask your worshippers to access your donation page on their phones, and take them through the process, step by step.
It's probably best to ask for the same donation from everyone to keep things simple. Start with a modest amount such as $5. Once people have given once, they're more likely to continue doing so going forward.
4. Make the Online Giving Process Mobile-Friendly
More than half of the world's internet traffic originates from mobile devices. If your online giving process isn't mobile-friendly, your church could miss out on a lot of precious cash.
While there are some very capable responsive website themes and platforms available, making a “mobile first” website is always the best option. There's a good chance that more than half of the visitors to your website use a mobile device for access. It makes sense to design your website specifically for smaller screens and adapt upwards — rather than the other around.
The use of mobile devices for online giving is at a record high. According to The Millennial Impact Report, 84 percent of young adults prefer to give online.
5. Drive Traffic to Your Website
You could have a fantastic church website, but if people aren't visiting it this counts for very little. At every opportunity, remind people about the site and what's on it. Talk about it during every service, and include the website address in every bulletin and newsletter you produce. And reach out across your social media channels to encourage people to log on.
Also, make sure your website is SEO optimized. This is a technical term for making a site attractive to search engines. There are several ways to do this, including the use of keywords, the inclusion of quality content, and the insertion of a few authoritative links. The most cost-effective approach involves hiring a professional to carry out an SEO audit for you.
6. Develop a Brand
Although you may not know it, your church already has a brand of its own. But unless you take control of the branding process, you could be missing out on donations. There are several ways to brand your church, including the creation of a logo, the use of a color scheme, and the use of a particular type font.
As StoryBrand-certified guides, we reference the StoryBrand framework to inspire giving. We create a clear, concise message that connects with worshippers. We can help you to maximize your church's fundraising potential.
According to Network for Good, branded giving pages perform around 67 percent better than unbranded pages. While the idea of creating a brand identity might seem a little strange at first, it could encourage a lot more people to give on a regular basis.
7. Introduce Automated Giving Options
A lot of people like to ensure they give to their church regularly. In the past, this mostly involved cash and check payments made in person. But you can make the process of recurring giving a lot easier for your worshippers.
Use a payment provider that gives people the option of making recurring payments with a debit or credit card. This functionality gives worshippers the opportunity to decide how often they give and when to stop.
8. Thank Your Donors… Every Time
It's important that you show your gratitude every time someone gives to your church. As well as being the right thing to do, it leaves givers with a sense of accomplishment. And an appreciated donor is often a regular donor.
There are several ways you can express thanks. For example, you could direct donors to a “thank you” page immediately after their payment goes through. Or you can send them a warm-hearted and personalized “thank you” email. It's even possible to thank people by text using an option within the payment provider's software.
9. Add Printable ‘I Gave Online' Cards to Your Website
The last thing you want to do is make online givers feel awkward when people are passing around the collection plate during a service. One way to alleviate this tricky situation is by giving online donors an “I gave online” card. This doesn't just put people at ease, it tells others in the congregation that online giving is an option.
10. Choose Technology Based on Your Desired Outcomes
There are many new and exciting technologies that can inspire people to give. But how do you know they're right for you? Rather than concentrate on the features included with apps and other technologies, think about your desired outcomes.
Consider why your worshippers decide to give. Sometimes giving is inspired by human connections. Other times it's about fostering community spirit or helping the less fortunate. The emotions that prompt giving are very important. If your technology helps you to appeal to these emotions, there's a very good chance you'll achieve the results you're looking for.
This is a lot to take in. Managing online giving for churches takes a lot of time and hard work. But you can make more time for your worshippers by managing the entire process with a giving software solution such as NewFire Giving.