Welcome to the year 2021. Your place of worship has endured a challenging year, and folks still need a spiritual connection and community. And that’s not all. More than ever, you need an online church giving strategy to support your mission.
- In person church attendance is down due to COVID.
- People don’t carry cash like they once did.
- Church operating expenses remain even if attendance is low.
- People want the convenience of online giving.
- People want to track their giving for tax purposes.
- Only 3 percent of churches currently have worship attendance at or above pre-COVID levels.*
- Four out of five churches have reopened. Larger churches are reporting worship attendance at about 35 percent pre-COVID levels. Smaller churches are about 50 percent pre-COVID levels.*
- Church Answers, an online church resource, is projecting 20 percent of people that were attending will never return. This figure will be bigger for larger churches.*
- These lower attendance trends will affect giving in 2021. In short, you cannot bank on things returning to normal at some point next year. Almost every church will be smaller in 2021.*
Online Giving Increases Funding For Your Church
Don’t be too discouraged about the statistics listed above. Offering more options meets the needs of your mobile congregation. Givelify found that 85 percent of church giving in the last month took place outside of physical church buildings. Church online means your message is likely reaching individuals outside of your typical audience, even across the nation. Inspired giving has no zip code. In fact, 1 in 4 churches on the Givelify platform receive donations from 20 miles or more outside of their physical location. This is not surprising, given that on Givelify, you immediately expand your donor network and are discoverable by nearly one million generous givers.
The problem is you aren’t sure where to start. There are so many options these days. Paid platforms, crowd-sourcing, snail mail, Facebook. It’s enough to make any faith leader feel overwhelmed.
Bottom-line, the church is still the church with or without in person worship services, and your church still operates on a budget. Your congregants should be able to participate in giving. Givelify understands how overwhelming becoming a digital church can be, which is why we’ve developed an online giving platform for churches and nonprofits.
If you plan on offering online giving, creating an online giving strategy will help you adapt to the new church online culture so can continue to further your mission.
Your Church, Your Strategy: 7 Easy Steps to Create One
Online giving is more than just a link on your website. It’s a strategy that touches all your potential donors where they happen to be at any point in time. Considering our current state as a culture, the likelihood of givers being online is great. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
1. Write a Strategy Statement
The first step to any good strategy is to write a statement that encapsulates your giving plan. Here’s a template for writing it:
The online giving we offer helps our church accomplish _______________________ <mission/s> by providing multiple ways for our members to give, so that they can experience ___________________ and to _________________________________.
2. Determine Your Objectives for Giving
What is your monthly operating budget? Is there a particular mission your church is trying to support or accomplish? Write each of these objectives as SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.
Example 1: To raise $19,500 before Q2 in order to pay the pastoral salary of $6500 a month.
Example 2: To raise $X before June 1, 2021 so that our church can continue to offer VBS to our community.
3. Be where the people are.
Determine where your audience is and meet them there. Are they on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram? Are they on their mobile devices primarily? Or on desktop? Are they attending church services in person? Or are they watching Live Stream services instead?
You can survey your members or just ask around. Depending on the median age of your congregation, you can always guesstimate. The younger your audience is, the more likely they are on SnapChat or Instagram, and on mobile devices. The older they are, the more likely they are on Facebook.
- 63 percent of all US online traffic comes from smartphones and tablets.
- 95.1 percent of Facebook user accounts were accessed via mobile devices in 2017.
- 96 percent of Americans own a cellphone of some kind.
- Mobile accounts for 70 percent of digital media time.
- Mobile traffic will continue to grow, but desktop traffic will remain relevant.
- Younger users tend to use smartphones more than older users.
- According to a study done by Twitter, users between the age of 18 and 24 are more likely to spend time on their phones than on a desktop computer. However, based on the mobile vs desktop statistics for age groups between 55 and 64, they too are leaning more and more toward smartphone usage as opposed to desktop.
Here’s a list of places your audience could be:
- Church Website
- Livestream Platform (Facebook, YouTube, Embedded into Site)
- Email inbox
- Mobile device
- Church Pews
4. Create Awareness of Your Giving Platform.
In order for people to take advantage of the convenience of using an online giving platform like Givelify they need to know it exists! Consider where they are and determine the best way to get the information out there. Here’s a few ways to make sure they know:
- Announce it during your worship service
- Mention online giving during the offering (include the option to give online while also passing the plate.)
- Include instructions on how to make an online donation in your bulletin.
- Include the information in your newsletter, emails, or social media
- Hang informational posters in your foyer
- Leave flyers on your informational table
5. Motivate Your Audience to Give.
Tapping into what motivates people to give generously is really the key to opening up people’s wallets. Do they give out of obligation to God, inspiration from stories of transformation, mission to the poor, connection to your community? Here’s a few ways to motivate your congregation:
- Tell impact stories. (How has your ministry impacted specific people?)
- Be transparent with your financial situation. People give to organizations they trust.
- Offer a secure way to give. Trusted by more than 45,000 places of worship and nonprofit organizations, Givelify meticulously verifies the identity of every organization in our records and utilizes the most robust secure payment processing methods.
- Celebrate the giving that has already happened.
- Give statistics on how and why your mission matters.
- Tell stories about the needs of people/ministry. (Emotions are the great motivator.)
- Thank your givers. With these 10 simple, creative thank you options we previously shared, you can share the love and make your supporters feel more appreciated than ever.
6. Create Opportunities for Your Audience to Give.
For each location or platform you find your audience, create an easy way for them to give. Be sure not to add extra steps. Each opportunity should include your giving link and a clear call to action: Give now, give here, Click to give, donate now, or Donate for _________. Here are some ideas for creating those opportunities:
- Include your unique giving link in your newsletter, emails, or social media
- Allow for time in your online service to ask for an offering
- Give a direct link to your donation page in the comments section of your live stream. Here’s how to add a donation button to Facebook live stream events
- Include direct links to your donation page on your website, social media profits and in every email
- Include a link to instructions on how to download the Givelify app. Don’t make it complicated. Givelify already has instructions so use those!
The true goal here is to make it easy and convenient for folks to give. The best part of social media and email is that by nature it’s all shareable. Encourage people to go beyond the “Like” and share, retweet, and forward your content. Your passionate supporters can do a great deal to amplify your message and increase your chances to fundraise via online giving. Other ways to optimize your giving can be found here.
7. Offer Recurring Giving
Looking at charitable donations as a whole, interesting research shows the value of recurring giving. Nonprofits Source found that donors who set up recurring donations give 42 percent more in a year than those who gave one-time gifts. One charity expert explains recurring giving is good for donors, too.
It’s a simple matter of setting an automated monthly or weekly giving. The beauty of Givelify, is once congregants make a donation, they can automatically set recurring giving. This feature is one quick tap on their app.
Churches of all Sizes Need an Online Giving Option
Don’t forget. You don’t have to be a mega-church to offer online giving or even to have an online giving strategy. While you don’t have the funds for an in-house web team or to hire a high-end design firm, you can still invest in your online presence. Looking good and offering an online giving strategy takes a little effort, but it doesn’t have to take much money. Signing up for Givelify is free, with no monthly fees and no contracts.
Grow Your Online Giving Now