Recently, we took a look at questions small churches ask about Church Management Systems. The small church world comes with a variety of challenges and struggles not seen in larger churches, so we wanted to take a look at some questions those churches ask about a variety of tech solutions. This week, let’s take a look at some online giving questions.
The short answer, “yes.” The more nuanced answer, though, is “most likely, but not necessarily.” In today’s world, even in more rural settings, cash is no longer king. Plastic rules the day and people are more likely to give if it is convenient. It’s not that they don’t want to give. They just don’t carry cash and checks have long been gone as a common form of payment. The question you need to ask is who in your church is likely to give online. If your church is mostly from the older generation, it may not fit your culture. But if your church has a strong portion of people under forty, it is definitely something you should give consideration.
But we’re rural…
It used to be that rural communities were quite a few years behind in technology and culture. With access to social media and smartphones, that isn’t the case anymore. Just five or six years ago, I was the only one in my church with a smartphone. Now, we have elementary schoolers with them! With the popularity of things like Amazon, people are used to making purchases online, so giving online is an easy step.
How much will it cost me?
There is a cost involved to every online giving system out there. Those costs can vary from per transaction fees to monthly fees to a percentage, but are usually some combination of those three things. In this case, every church is going to need to crunch some numbers and figure out what works best for them. My recommendation here, though, is to go with a system designed for churches. That way, you get better reporting and customer service reps who understands your needs. Paypal works and a lot of churches use it, but it is not designed for them and falls short in a lot of areas.
Is it worth it?
By all accounts, yes, online giving will increase your overall donations. Quick example for you to consider. How many people in your church who miss a Sunday morning give double the next time? Some might, but few do. They have a heart to give, but after a week they don’t think about giving extra. That same person might catch the audio podcast online on Monday or Tuesday on their lunch break and remember that they didn’t give in the offering Sunday, so they pay right from their smartphone. You’ve provided a way for them to participate and they’ve blessed your church. It’s a win-win.
Not only that, but many online giving services allow your members to set recurring giving. They don’t even have to think about it or be at church. It automatically pulls it from their checking account or charges their debit card. Many people already do this with the majority of their regular payments and bills, so it is natural for them to move to that with their church giving.
How does the reporting work?
This is the area where your research ahead of time pays off in spades. Some services have excellent reporting options that can be exported into your financial software with the click of a button. Some, like the aforementioned Paypal, do not. Make sure that the online giving service you choose works well with your ChMS or other financial system.
What other questions do you have about online giving, especially as it pertains to small churches?