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6 Mistakes to Avoid with Online Giving

Church leaders are faced with the growing reality that less and less people are regularly carrying cash or checkbooks. This dilemma is causing more organizations to adopt online giving in conjunction with the traditional method of passing the plate. However, there’s a catch. Most churches are misusing their online giving, which results in a significant loss of giving potential. So what’s really the giving solution in a cash free world?

Here are six ways you may be missing out on giving potential.

1. Monthly Subscription and Processing Fees

Is free really free? 

Free software is a tempting offer. While it may appear to be the most bang for your buck to use a subscription-free software, that may not always be the case. Check the merchant processing rates. These are the rates that are associated with each transaction done through the platform. Different cards have different rates. So do different giving methods, like card transactions versus ACH transactions. Most free platforms offer flat processing rates, but they are high processing rates.

So why does this matter? It’s still cheaper, right?

Most likely, you are paying more in merchant processing fees alone than you would if you went with a monthly subscription company. For example, SecureGive does have a monthly subscription fee that is determinate on the plan you select but does have the lowest merchant processing rates across all major online giving platforms. So while the monthly subscription isn’t free, you will save hundreds if not thousands of dollars a year on merchant processing fees. Guaranteed.

Ultimately, you’ll be saving more money with lower fees than by forgoing a monthly subscription.

2. Diversity and Comprehensiveness

People like options. 

By implementing a variety of online, mobile, text, kiosk, and inservice giving, you allow your donors the ability to give whenever, wherever, and however they’d like. The Johnsons can give online during their summer vacation. Mrs. Smith can text to give when she forgets her purse at home. The Allens are reminded to give by seeing a kiosk in the lobby. 

While online and mobile giving are great options, kiosks are the most preferred way to donate for first time donors. Placing a kiosk in your church lobby, not only diversifies your giving options but it is also a visual reminder for people to give. By having comprehensive giving methods and visual reminders for your members to donate, your giving potential will increase. 

3. Transparency

It’s a fact, people are more prone to give when they feel like they are apart of something. 

Caring for and serving others is at the heart of Christianity. Donors want to know that their money is going to more than just paying operational costs for the facility. Donors want to see the funds they give to the ministry help rebuild a single mother’s home that was just lost to a fire. Donors want to see their money go to dream centers, where under resourced teenage girls can pick out the perfect prom dress at no cost to them. Donors want to see their money paying off church debt so the ministry can truly flourish.

Donors want to know where their money is going and to be able to choose where those funds are directed. You can do this easily by establishing multiple giving categories with your online platform. Set up ones for tithes, debt reduction, backpack giveaways, child sponsorship, etc. This will allow donors to choose where their money is going. As a bonus, if you have the ability, you can add a description to the donation category for donors to get a bit more information about each cause and how their donation is helping.

Multiple donation categories and descriptions allow donors to give to the causes the Lord places on their hearts and to know exactly how their funds are going to be used. This creates open and clear communication with donors, which will ultimately increase your giving potential by prompting more individuals to give.

4. Language Barriers 

Don’t let language be a barrier to giving. 

The Lord calls us all to be good stewards of what He has given us in time, talents, and finances. But, language barriers could be preventing some of your members from fully embracing stewardship. Online giving can be difficult and scary to navigate for donors who are non-English speakers or do not have full mastery of the language. 

Did you know 41 million people in the US speak Spanish as their primary language? Check to see if your software offers multi-language features. It’s an added bonus if your software will allow you to customize terms used across the site to best reflect the unique language and phrases of your church. The features give everyone the ability to be good stewards unto the Lord. 

5. Customer Service

There’s nothing more frustrating than hearing Press 1 for Hours of Operation, Press 2 for Billing, Press 3 for Customer Service, especially when you have a question that requires timely attention. 

Let’s say one of your donors has questions about their recurring transaction. Or your church accountant needs help reconciling the monthly donations. Or you have questions about using the software to issue giving statements. These scenarios need real time evaluation and results. If the answers and resolutions are not time efficient, the donor may abandon their online transaction, book-keeping records could be off, and features of the software designed to benefit your organization left unused. Evaluate your platform’s customer service to make sure a real person is answering every time and that the conversation is friendly, informative, and quick to offer results.

Going beyond help with questions, are you aware of what features your online giving offers? See if your current provider offers individual training calls to walk you through their dashboard. See if they offer marketing materials to promote online giving for donors. See if they will create a specific implementation strategy for online giving and your organization. Utilizing these additional resources will help you evaluate your current giving potential and create a plan to increase it.

6. Values 

Does your online giving company share the same Christian values and foundation as you?

This can play a key role in what is offered, how services are rendered, and the tools that are provided. 

While giving tools are important, a culture of generosity runs deeper than what any platform can offer. Before your donors will fully utilize the different giving options you provide, they must first know how to be a good steward, why they should be good stewards, and what it looks like to be a good steward. To help with this, find out if your platform has a blog dedicated to resources that teach stewardship and promote church growth. Download eBooks that are available and sign up for free webinars hosted by the platform. Check to see if the giving platform has a pastor on staff that prays over you, your church, your members, and your giving.  All of these resources will equip you with the tools needed to instill a spirit of generosity in your church which will ultimately increase your giving. 

Putting it into Practice

Recently, the leadership at a mega-church in Maryland used the above steps to examine their giving platform and donation options. They realized their platform was not able to keep up with the growing infrastructure of their church. There were holes, software features needed, and additional stewardship resources required to increase donation potential. So they gave SecureGive a call. Immediately after switching to SecureGive from the previous provider, they saved over $10,000 from merchant processing fees and subscriptions for the year. They found the tools they needed to engage more donors in their church. With the stewardship resources offered, the church has been able to grow and continue to strengthen the culture of generosity, increasing giving potential even more. 

That’s thousands of dollars you can invest in your church building. Thousands of dollars you can invest in your ministry. Thousands of dollars you can invest in your community. What could your church do with an extra $10,000 in 2020? 

Want to learn about how SecureGive guarantees to increase giving at your church? Click here to learn more.

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