Due to the COVID-19 crisis, churches all across the country are learning how to host worship and fellowship online instead of in the sanctuary. In making this switch, many church leaders are facing the unprecedented challenge of relaying the importance of continual generosity to their congregants without being able to encourage them in person. Online giving is becoming a key tool for churches to sustain their efforts while the church building may be closed.
The current pandemic has escalated church costs in the form of expanded outreach, even though many members are giving less. Churches need to encourage congregants to keep giving. A new survey from Faithlife found that, among the survey participants, one in five churches saw an alarming 50% or more decrease in the expected number of givers. However, there was an increase in online givers for 24% of churches for the last week of March. Evidently, implementing a virtual giving feature is one of the most effective means of increasing generosity during disasters like COVID-19 and beyond.
To successfully incorporate remote giving among their churches in a way that results in increased generosity, leaders should embrace the following three ways to increase online giving:
#1 – Equip All Members to Give Online
Many individuals prefer virtual giving and have been doing so for several years. However, there remain people who prefer to give via in-person methods such as passing the plate or leaving a check in an offering box. In addition to simply preferring the traditional way of giving, some folks are leery of possible pitfalls with online giving, such as a security breach or their bank information being mishandled.
To address these valid concerns, seek to educate members on not only why they should engage in online giving, but why they can trust the method. Consider doing a live stream tutorial for donating online that allows congregants to send in their questions. Incorporate different ways to give virtually, such as adding a text-to-give feature. Include an FAQ page on your church’s site about what type of giving platform is used, how it works and why it is safe.
#2 – Meet Congregants Where They Are
Despite the apparent benefits of online giving, some individuals will continue to prefer traditional methods of giving, and that’s okay. The most important aspect is that people are being generous and not necessarily through which mediums they prefer to give. Even during times like these when churches may be forced to commune virtually, find ways to accommodate members who do not prefer online giving. Perhaps that looks like allowing members to mail checks to the church accountant. Consider sending someone to collect gifts while adhering to social distancing guidelines from those who would like to give a physical check.
#3 – Keep Generosity Top of Mind
Transitioning to digital giving can feel like a big change for some people. It may feel as if they are learning to do something completely new. They will need to be reminded quite often to give online before it can be assumed that they have made virtual giving part of their weekly routine.
When making the switch to online giving, be sure to announce it to the church in a few ways and several different times so that nobody misses the message. From there, continue to strategically incorporate reminders to give online such as by including a large donate button on the website home page, email reminders, and communicating it throughout the streamed sermon.
This tip is pertinent year-round, whether seeking offerings virtually or in-person and not merely during COVID-19. Church members require regular reminders from their leaders that their given finances, on which the church depends, are much needed and being put to a purpose. The more people continue to play their part, the more outreach can be done for those in the community who need it most. There are many families with parents who have been laid-off or the many kids who depended on their school to feed them lunch every day.
With the current pandemic, every day is different. People have become accustomed to changes on an almost daily basis. It is something most everyone is learning to get comfortable with. As a result, this season of social distancing is the ideal time to make the switch to virtual giving. Everyone has more time on their hands to get familiar with the new system. We can all stand to be reminded of the importance of giving, no matter what the world is going through.