If you pastor or lead in a church pay attention closely.
Digital Giving is not Optional
If your church does not have a well defined digital giving strategy you are shortchanging the mission and potentially robbing people of the opportunity to be good stewards!
Face it, we live in the digital age.Â You can purchase anything online and probably do.Â You can pay all your bills online and probably do.Â You rarely see anyone use cash or write a check to make a purchase any more.Â Why would you expect people to consistently write checks to your church, or give generously with cash they no longer carry.Â People pay online and they use bank cards to make purchases and giving should be just as easy!
Let me clarify what I mean when I say digital giving.Â I’m not talking about a paypal “donate now” button stuck on your website (although that can be part of it)Â I am talking about a strategy that enables people to give consistently and conveniently using various digital component.Â At Crosspoint nearly 70% of our giving is through digital methods.Â Â I think there are 3 areas you have to focus on (in order):
1) Recurring Online Giving using ACH (automated clearing house) transactions.Â This is where you want the bulk of your digital giving!Â The most important thing you need in digital giving is low transaction fees and consistent recurring gifts.
Low Fees via ACH: Credit/Debit card transactions can be close to 3% of the transaction.Â If someone gives $100 you pay $3 to get it.Â An ACH transaction is processed like a check and the fee is more like $.45 regardless of the amount.Â So if someone gives a generous $1000 donation, you pay less than 50 cents to handle it instead of $30!
Recurring Gifts: A good biblical stewardship plan includes giving your first along with your best.Â People should give a percentage when they get paid.Â With recurring giving people can set up their gifts to draft on payday.Â (monthly, 1st and 15th etc.)Â This is crucial because of what happens when people need to be gone on vacation, for work, or illness.Â Most givers intend to be consistent but if they miss a week or two, making up that gift is difficult for all but the most committed givers.Â A recurring plan solves this problem for them and levels out the income for the church.Â At Crosspoint we know how much our giving will be within a few hundred dollars every week!
With services that have recurring giving plans, you can also receive debit,Â credit and one time gifts.Â This is the first priority in your digital giving strategy.
2) A Giving Kiosk. A giving kiosk is sort of like a redbox vending machine.Â It’s a touch screen ATM like device that allows a user to swipe a debit/credit card.Â This device will allow people who do not carry cash or checks and like the convenience of using a bank card to give easily.Â Roughly 10% of Crosspoint giving comes via our kiosk in the lobby.Â This has been very helpful for people who were not consistent before and helps some people make their first time gifts easier.Â A kiosk does have an initial investment for the equipment. (a purchase or lease)Â There are also merchant account fees, vendor fees, and transaction fees.Â There is a cost to do business here but the benefit outweighs the cost.Â We paid for our kiosk within months and the additional gifts we receive more than make up for the costs.Â Would you rather have $97 of a $100 gift or no gift at all?
3) Mobile Giving.Â We only recently added mobile giving to our digital options.Â It already pays for itself and has new givers adopting it.Â The nice thing about mobile giving is you can use it as a cheap kiosk solution by installing iPads in your lobby with the mobile site configured.Â Some vendors may even be able to configure a way to swipe a card rather than entering the numbers.Â Â Mobile giving offers the opportunity for those not connected with recurring giving to give conveniently when they want to on the go with a mobile app.Â They can give spontaneously during the week and if they have to be out, they can still give where ever they are.Â A good mobile giving site will offer recurring giving and may offer ACH giving – lowering transaction fees.
Other ways to supplement digital giving:Â
- Paypal.Â Paypal is convenient for the few that will use it, but the disadvantage is no recurring gifts.
- Square.Â Square (a company founded by the guy who founded twitter) is a super easy way to process credit cards.Â Transaction fees are reasonable and money is deposited the next day in your account.Â It would be simple to use square as a cheap kiosk – however the swipe device can be finicky to use.Â It takes some practice to swipe a card consistently.
What we use: At Crosspoint we have two vendors.
- Church Community Builder:Â CCB is our church managment system (ChMS).Â Online Giving (through BluePay Merchant Services) is included in the price.Â Most of our digital giving is through recurring online gifts via CCB.Â Check with your ChMS vendor about their online giving module.
- Secure Give:Â Secure Give is our Kiosk Vendor.Â The thing I love about Secure Give (besides amazing customer service) is they operate out of a local church and are an extension of the church.Â They smoke what they sell!Â They also enable our mobile giving through their free app in the iTunes App Store and Android Market.Â All transactions through both methods automatically tie into CCB making accounting easy for us.