Last week, the pastor at my hometown church did something new. I was so impressed and engaged. I immediately gave an offering and sent a kind note to the pastor. I’m sure you’re wondering what amazing act he did. Well, it was simple. He went live on Facebook. The go-live culture on social media today is more prevalent in churches than it’s ever been. With more opportunities for services virtually, there will be more opportunities for giving donations. Places of worship have been swift to adopt virtual options to broadcast services. If service can be accessed anywhere, the opportunity to give should be too. Giving kiosks are not an option in our current shelter-in-place environment and text giving is nearly impossible to commit to memory from a distance. And let me be the first to tell you, there is no check your donors can write and mail in that will deposit into the church’s bank account the next business day.
The giving options in an era of social distancing are not all equal. As a back-office staff member or volunteer, you may be concerned about handling checks that come in through the mail and visiting the bank every week (or even every day) to deposit the funds due to the pandemic. Anything you touch, including checks in the mail, could present harm if you’re not careful. You may be equally as shocked to find out your donors’ paper checks aren’t as secure and safe as they might think they are. Don’t put yourself through this stress when you don’t have to. Read on to learn five reasons why online giving is better than writing a check to your church and share the word with the members in your congregation.
Convenience Leads to Action
The more inconvenient a task is, the less likely we are to complete it. The same applies to heartfelt actions like giving to our places of worship. In today’s environment, anything that requires leaving the house is probably inconvenient. From longer-than-usual lines at the grocery store and the post office to drive-through-only service at some locations, we have to find creative alternatives to do important activities in our lives.
When it comes to church giving, convenience plays a factor in whether or not we do it. Here are some things to consider about convenience in online giving vs. check giving.
Remote giving options include online giving, social media giving, and mobile giving apps. Many of these platforms allow one-time gifts and recurring gifts. They also accept major debit cards or credit cards. Giving via check, on the other hand, requires much more physical interaction with people and money for your donors to complete their gift.
Giving via check requires the person making the gift to have access to up-to-date checks, postage, and stationery, like an envelope, to mail the check. From there, the check should be made out to the correct place of worship or ministry account. (And how often is this step done incorrectly at your place of worship? A lot, we know!) It is then delivered via postal mail to the church a few days later where you or someone else in the back office will retrieve it and deposit it into the church’s bank account. This process usually takes about a week, sometimes longer. It also requires a lot of physical interaction where the check can get lost, stolen, or be a conduit for germs and illnesses.
Here’s the break down of online giving platforms, social giving platforms, and mobile giving apps:
- An online giving platform is usually found on a place of worship’s website. It is used primarily in an internet browser like Chrome, Safari, or Firefox. They allow one-time gifts and recurring gifts directly to your place of worship using your debit or credit card. This process is instant, secure, and funds are deposited into the church bank account as quickly as the next-business-day.
- A social media giving platform is very similar to an online giving platform. The main difference is a social media giving platform might be linked to a place of worship’s social media site like Facebook. However, it still opens in an internet browser like Chrome, Safari, or Firefox. Social media giving platforms allow one-time gifts directly to your place of worship using your debit or credit card. Like online giving, this process is instant, too. Funds can be deposited into the church bank account as quickly as the next-business-day.
- A mobile giving app is a giving platform that can be downloaded, usually for free, from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. A mobile giving app allows one-time giving and recurring giving using your credit or debit card and provides a personal giving history of all your donations made through the app. This instant process can deposit funds into the church bank account as quickly as the next-business-day.
Let’s compare. One week before funds from a check are deposited vs. one business day. We know for a fact that cash now is better than cash eventually, so why wait? The value of digital giving options is clear when it comes to convenience for the church staff and the members making the donations. We’ll dive deeper into fees next.
The True Cost of Giving
There are fees associated with all types of giving, even giving via check. Some mobile giving apps charge monthly fees directly to the church and transaction fees to the donor. Other mobile apps like Givelify charge low processing fee on the market with no monthly, sign-up, or hidden costs to churches. Writing a check incurs fees, too. Purchasing stamps and envelopes and even signature-required delivery can add to your donor’s gift with no added benefit to your church.
Let’s look at what makes these fees different.
- Online and Mobile Giving fees can go as low as 2.9% + 30 cents per transaction. That means on a $100 donation from a member of your congregation, $96.80 will be given to your church.
- Check “fees” for your donor include the cost for stamps or mailing the check priority or with a signature-required option. With the lack of security on mailing checks, it’s always a smart idea for donors to know that their gifts arrived at your church safely, so the extra cost they incur may be a smart choice when going this route.
Speaking of security, how secure are these online giving options compared to good old-fashioned checks?
Security is Priority
These days, everything is accessible online. We should be even more vigilant about how our information is used and stored. Security of our personal information and financial assets should always be balanced with the convenience our online society provides. You may know someone at your place of worship who’s opted to forgo online giving altogether because they fear the unknown. “Is it safe? Is it secure? Am I better off just writing a check?” All of these thoughts are valid, but we should challenge them.
What makes giving safe and secure?
- Online and Mobile giving is secure because it gives control to the person making the donation. They can see in real-time that their donation has been processed and taken from their account and deposited into the church’s account. There’s no waiting for receipts and no follow-ups. Their giving history is in the palm of their hand on their mobile device. Encryption, world-class security, and customer support for online and mobile giving make fraudulent activity hard to come by which is good news for you and the church’s donations.
- Checks, on the other hand, may seem safe. We’ve been writing checks for years. However, the moment the check leaves your donor’s hand, neither of you are in control of what happens next. Checks can get lost in the mail, or worse, they may end up in the wrong hands. There is much more room for error with this method of giving because no one can automatically track its arrival to the church once it’s been mailed.
That brings us to tracking and record keeping.
Tracking and Record-Keeping
In addition to security and convenience, record keeping is a hot topic among the generous people who give to their places of worship. Whether it be for personal tracking or tax purposes, having this information handy is important. Online and mobile giving options like Givelify provide an option for donors to enter their member numbers directly into the app to instantly record each gift they make and provide donation history on demand. Your church can easily connect each gift to the donor’s account in any church management system (chms) you use. Mobile giving apps may also send an annual summary of your donor’s generosity every year which makes generating year-end statements easier for you.
Giving via check leaves the church and the donor with less control. You must provide each donor with a manual receipt. Because there is less control over a check making its way to the church bank account, reconciliation on your end can become difficult if things get lost and don’t arrive by the date you expected. Even if you offer donation forms to donors who give via check, those aren’t much help when service is no longer happening in person.
Staying consistent from a distance when giving is easier with online giving. Donors can accurately manage their giving directly from their desktop or mobile device when they choose online giving over writing a check. You and your back office staff or volunteers can see real-time donations come in through dashboards and robust reporting suites like the ones Givelify provides to all churches and nonprofits using the platform.
Social Distance Giving, the Safer Way
It’s clear now more than ever that keeping our distance from one another will help us stay healthy and safe. But distancing includes more than just person-to-person contact. We should be mindful of conduits for germs like cash and checks. These items are often handled by several people before we receive them, and then we pass them on to someone else.
WebMD says this about how long the virus can live on paper surfaces, “The length of time varies. Some strains of coronavirus live for only a few minutes on paper, while others live for up to 5 days.”
And while many early studies are inconclusive about the transmission rate of the virus through money and paper, Dr. Susan Whitter, Clinical Microbiologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital thinks the risk just isn’t worth the reward, “Anytime you decrease coming in contact with contaminated surfaces, you’re decreasing your risk of coming in contact with viruses.” Taking such a risk in this environment just isn’t necessary when better alternatives to receive donations exist.
Luckily, mobile apps and online platforms make contactless giving simpler, faster, and cleaner than traditional giving methods. These forms of giving show consideration for the place of worship staff and volunteers like you who risk their own health and safety each day to check the mail to retrieve donations from your congregants. Digital giving options make safety a number one priority for your donors and your place of worship.
When it comes to convenience, security, low fees, and accurate record-keeping, online giving is leading the charge as the preferred giving option for churches across the country. These benefits are applicable now, but can add value for years to come – even after in-person services resume. Safety is the number one concern on most church and place of worship administrator’s minds and giving with a check pales in comparison to giving online. Social, mobile, and online giving options from a mobile giving app platform like Givelify can be added to your church website and seamlessly connected to your church management system (chms). Compared to writing a check, online giving is the way to go every time.
Did you know Givelify has no sign-up fees, monthly fees, or hidden fees?
It’s true! Our app has the lowest cost to places of worship, and more than 30,000 people have rated the Givelify mobile giving app 4.9 out of 5 on the App Store and Google Play Store. Start accepting donations in as little as five minutes and learn why the most generous donors love doing more good, together with Givelify.