I Forgot My Checkbook Part 2

On Friday December 30th as 2011 was winding down I wanted to get our tithe check into my church before the year ended. Amazingly we could not find any checks in our house. We only write a few checks a month and two of those are to our church. I told my wife to just go to our churches website and pay our tithe online. My church, which runs almost 1,000 in attendance with a nearly $2 million dollar annual budget does not have online giving! Now what do I do? We went to our bank, had a cashiers check made out and drove to the church office before they closed to get our tithe in. How many people would have just forgotten the whole thing?

What amazed me was when I went in to give the check to the financial secretary I commented about our trying to give online. She commented, “We tried that a couple of years ago but our members really did not like it.” She gave one of the biggest objections to online giving that I commonly hear. We tried online giving and it did not work. The fault lies not with online giving but with the church and how they implemented online giving.

The timing was not right. We tried it a couple of years ago in the technological age we live in is like saying you tried it a decade ago. Things are changing so fast that it is often difficult to keep up. I read a blogger’s post the other day where he said that the tools he was using today in his business did not exist five years ago. What did not gain traction two years ago might be wildly accepted now. Interestingly studies have shown that two thirds of the churches offering online giving have offered it for only two years or less.

Online bill payment has surged in just the last few years. In fact online giving to charities has increased 13% year over year. Every nonprofit sector has seen double digit online fundraising growth since 2009. If you tried online giving a couple of years ago it is time to try it again!

The tool was not properly used. This is the second and in all probability the real reason a churches attempts at online giving does not succeed. Online giving is a tool. Like any tool left unused or improperly used it does not fulfill its intended purpose. You cannot simply set up online giving and hope that your members find it. They won’t. You have to work at it. Here are two quotes from church leaders that I am working with about their online giving.

“Our online giving in March was 46k and in April it was 72k – 57% increase in one month, we are on the right track, but need to continue to take it up. We are promoting online giving weekly.” I underlined that last quote as that is the key!

Recently one of my clients emailed me about the online campaign we have been running and said, “The online giving in March was 46k and in April it was 72k – 57% increase in one month, we are on the right track, but need to continue to take it up. We are promoting online giving weekly.” That is the key. I have several clients right now that are seeing online giving represent between 30% to 50% of their total gifts.

A pastor in a small church commented to me, “We generally take in about $4,500 a week. In the summer there were times where we would have an offering of less than $1,000. As we moved into summer we began an initiative to get our members to set up recurring giving through our online portal. Now 50% of our giving comes online and our offerings this summer have stayed consistent. It has taken away the Monday morning panic!” Again notice what I underlined. They talked about online giving from the platform and worked to sign people up.

Why set up something that will not net you an increase in giving? After all online giving does cost you a fractional percentage fee to the processing companies that allow the ease of use of this new tool. So, unless online giving increases your giving why bother? Online giving does indeed increase your total gifts. One reason why this is true is that online giving allows for recurring gifts to be set up. This allows for consistency in giving and thus brings an increase in giving.

One of the major keys to successfully implementing online giving is to continually keep it in front of your congregation. 

I have a small shed attached to our house. In that shed I have a lot of yard and garden tools plus my lawn mower. Those tools help us keep our lawn in order. Yet if I did not use those tools properly the fault is not with the tool but with me. The same analogy is true for the church and online giving. Properly used this tool can and will help increase your giving. Would you like to have the Monday morning panic removed from your life? Online giving can do that for you.

Mark Brooks

Founder and President

The Charis Group