To launch a thriving software, curriculum, process or platform, it takes careful planning, a big vision and great communication. Lifeway Generosity shares some important points to plan for when you are launching a digital giving platform.
I know this would appear to be a strange blog post focus for one who directs a digital giving platform. However, I need to be straightforward and honest. Here is the premise, digital giving opportunities are on the rise, yet they are not reaching the automatic 10% increase that is often expected. First let’s look at the facts, then we will address the possible reasons.
LifeWay Research recently reported that 74% of churches offer some version of online giving, yet only 15% of all giving is being received via online platforms (E-Giving Vs. Old Giving: New Research on Church Donations). Digital giving opportunities have certainly increased in dramatic fashion over the past five years. Churches are jumping on board at a rapid pace, but an overflow of resources is not the repeated result.
At Generosity by LifeWay we are helping churches see 50-75% of their gifts arrive through digital channels. So why is it that so many are experiencing so much less?
Here are several possible reasons that we encounter when helping churches unleash giving.
1. Not all digital giving platforms are created equal
Many churches that offer online giving have simply executed a credit card form that is being provided via their church management software or a credit card processing company. The ability to transact a credit card is not as inspiring as one may think. When church giving feels like a bill pay experience you still have some work to do. Think through the eyes of a giver and what they are hoping to experience. Re-create your giving web page focused on the giver not the transaction.
2. Online giving is so 2010. Kiosk giving is even older. Mobile giving is the present
The modern generation does not spend their idle time surfing the internet via a desktop or laptop. They are clicking apps from their mobile devices. These apps are dedicated to a topic of interest and connect them directly to their preferences. No pinching and stretching to enjoy the experience. No “x-ing out” of unwanted content. Just what they want, the way they want it, seamless on all their devices. Go mobile to engage modern givers.
3. Stuck on the transaction while forgetting generosity is transformation
Unfortunately, when churches turn on their digital giving platform often times the goal is singular. We want to see an increase in giving to the church. See how to engage with your people by integrating your giving into your Church Management System.We engage a modern tool that is miles ahead of what we have previously offered. However, often times we do not unleash a growth process that is the real fuel. The engine is newer, but we have no gas. When the focus is on what the church needs instead of what God has in store for the giver, the result will be a church-focused transactional culture which most churches try to avoid. Take the time to lean into a few biblical stories of generosity. There are some real giving heroes in the Bible that can help us transform the giving experience.
4. Security is a concern
When people traverse the internet arriving upon their church website comparisons begin immediately. Your web experience is either creating a feeling of excitement and security or it may be communicating something else. If the church website feels more dated than most other websites a giver enjoys, that could be a problem. Then when they click to make a gift, if the experience is a non-inspiring form, they are blocked by a login screen or they are exported from your web domain to a financial services page that is not good. All of these cautionary experiences create friction for the giver. Friction slows things down, even causing the giving process to halt because the experience has just become unfamiliar and insecure. Look into a digital giving platform that keeps the givers on your website. Also consider a web partner that can keep your church site updated for you.
5. Limited giving options
Digital giving comes via many channels these days. People can give via text, app, or online all with the same login and giver friendly experience. They can give both cash or noncash items. They can give via ACH, debit card, credit card, Paypal account, and more. They can even give virally via social media campaigns or crowdfunding platforms. The church that relies on a simple credit card form hosted on a financial services site thinking its work is done will be mistaken. The marketplace is decades ahead which means your people are giving far more conveniently and creatively to other causes.
If you lead only with offerings it will create both a limited response and short term giving culture. However, if “year end” is a part of an “all year” strategy the results will overflow. Begin to unleash generosity this year