Passing the budget at my childhood church was always a bit of a production. The proposed budget was presented to the congregation, and people would debate over it. Different elders and deacons would talk about why some programs got more money than others, and, slowly, convinced the church members to vote to approve the budget. The meeting always included a brief side conversation about tithing, and many people offered ideas to help boost tithes.
Back then, digital giving wasn’t a “thing.” In the years between then and now, lots of churches have adopted online giving methods that are helping to boost their bottom line (and, hopefully, shortening congregational meetings).
These methods are ways some of our clients are effectively increasing their tithes and offerings using digital giving, and how you can use them, too.
1. Develop a Giving Strategy
Before you do anything, your church is going to need a giving strategy. How do you plan on promoting online tithing to your congregation? Are you going to try mobile giving as well? What about a giving app?
Figuring out exactly what will work for your church might take some time. Your church’s leadership will need to have several meetings to discuss the right giving options.
If you want, you can even open up the conversation to the rest of the congregation. Find out what giving methods they would prefer. You’ll gain much more insight by having a discussion about the types of giving options that are available to your congregation.
2. Allow recurring donations
At my church, tithes were always lowest during the summer. Families were on vacation, not in the pews, and that meant that they weren’t present when the collection plates were passed.
Luckily, many online giving platforms allow donors to set up recurring donations. Members can schedule a payment to process, say, once a week, and those transactions are processed whether they’re in church or on vacation. It also helps mitigate the risk of congregants forgetting their cash or checkbooks.
3. Offer different tithing methods
What floats one member’s boat might not float another’s. If a member doesn’t want to set up a recurring donation but doesn’t carry cash or checks, offering another way to give may be useful to them.
Consider including options like giving apps and one-time online donations that will appeal to members who want to use different methods.
4. Tell your members how they can give
A while ago, I was working with a nonprofit who had set up a donation page online (he wasn’t a Qgiv client!). He couldn’t figure out why nobody was giving to his organization on their website, so we spent a few minutes trying to troubleshoot why no donations had been coming through. We talked about social media posts, newsletters, and email campaigns, and I finally asked how he’d told his supporters that online donations were an option. He admitted that he hadn’t, really.
It’s easy to fall into the “if we build it, they will come” mindset. Be careful not to!
Your members can’t give digitally if they don’t know that they can! Be sure to tell your church members about their different tithing options, whether it’s during your announcements, in the church bulletin, or using volunteers.
5. Add optional donations to events
If you’re using an online giving platform, you might also be using it to accept registrations for different church events. If your platform allows you to enable additional donations when someone registers for an event, turn on that option! People who register for an event may well decide to give an additional donation before they finish their transaction.
6. Let them give with their phones
My mom would have killed me if she’d caught me in church with a cell phone back in the day — but when church members are using smartphones to do everything from take sermon notes to read along in the week’s passage, those rules no longer really apply.
Letting people give from their cell phones, either by allowing text giving or by having a mobile-responsive site, is one way to engage your members.
There are lots of ways to engage your church’s members digitally, and these are only a few of those strategies. How do you use digital giving in your church’s strategy?