I’ve spent a lot of time on church websites recently. Like, dozens of hours on hundreds of websites! Along the way, I noticed some digital giving practices that are trending. Having grown by 21% in 2020 alone, online giving is an area of leadership that deserves our full attention.
8 Effective Digital Giving Practices For Your Church
1. The giving link must be easy to find.
In the early days of the internet, churches were hesitant to put a big clear “GIVE” link at the top of their website. It felt too pushy.
But as online giving grew to 40%, 60%, even 80% in some churches, and web developers started looking deeply at the pages on your site that people actually spend time on, they made an interesting discovery:
Lots of people are just clicking around until they find the giving page.
They also discovered that when you make the online giving button easy to find, overall giving goes up! The digital giving practice to apply is to work with your platform to add that giving button to your site.Don't make potential givers dig around your church website to find the GIVE link. Data shows that making it visible will increase giving. Click To Tweet
2. Cell phone user experience must be considered first.
If you only check how your giving link looks on your nice 15-inch MacBook Pro, you are serving less than half of your people. That’s because nearly 55% of all web traffic happens on mobile phones these days.
Most websites built today look different based on the device you are on. For example:
That beautifully planned-out menu structure sprawling across the top of a computer screen becomes a hamburger-style menu in the top right corner on a cell phone.
And that shift in screen size requires that hard decisions be made. This is not the time to relegate the GIVE button to a sub-menu. Even on the smallest iPhone, GIVE should require one click only. If I have to scroll or search, the likelihood of giving goes down.
Most will say:
“I wanted to give, truly! I just couldn’t figure it out, so I gave up and figured I’d ask someone later. But then I never did. And then three months passed by.”
3. Have a memorable “text-to-give” option.
First of all, do you have a text-to-give option? This is non-negotiable digital giving practice for effective digital giving.
I like to start with the end in mind, and often the end is the ‘out loud communication’. For instance, imagine it’s the end of your Sunday gathering, and the Executive Pastor is doing announcements today. The “offering moment” comes and he does a great job communicating the church’s values and vision and celebrating generosity. And then he says:
“…and if you want to learn more about giving here at our church, just go to this website, click on giving, scroll down, etc., etc., etc.”
You’ve lost them. On the other hand, if you can simply say “and if you want to learn more about giving at our church, just text this word to this number.” Done.
End-of-year giving tips: How to Finish Strong by Driving Recurring Giving
Any online giving platform worth a look is going to have a text-to-give option. Usually, you can work with the company to choose what word people will text to give.
Pro Digital Giving Practice: When determining your church’s text-to-give word, the choice is critical because a lot of people are going to be saying it from the stage with great frequency.
So if you choose “rvr_church.give” and you have to explain what an underscore is and that it’s like River, with the vowels taken out because the creative team rebranded last year and apparently vowels aren’t cool anymore. Well, you just lost people again. But if you can say “just text thisisriver to 797007” then people can actually remember that and do it. So, brainstorm some ideas, practice them out loud, make a wise choice upfront.Choose carefully the text-to-give word for your church's online giving. If it's confusing or forgettable, people won't make it to the final step of giving. Make the process friction-free. Click To Tweet
4. Communicate your generosity language on your giving page.
So, once people get to your giving page online either through the website directly or via text, what will they find?
If it’s just a place to fill in data on ACH or credit card, you’ve missed an opportunity to share your heart. Don’t make the long-time giver dig too much, but at the same, don’t miss the chance to reinforce the language that your church uses to talk about generosity.
For example, a simple phrase like: “Here at River Church, we believe that giving should be . . .” A small amount of carefully crafted text is the minimum, but you could also consider a very brief 60-90 second video of a Pastor sharing the heart behind giving at your church. Not everyone will click on it, but those who do will appreciate it and have a better sense of the big picture.Don't miss the opportunity to share your church's heart and vision on your GIVE page. You can craft a little statement or include a brief video from the pastor, or any option in between. Click To Tweet
5. Link to your most recent teaching on giving.
Most generous churches are doing some kind of giving sermon once a year or so. Often, the teaching pastor will put a ton of effort into crafting that language well because — truth be told — many pastors are a bit nervous about the generosity and stewardship sermon.
Why let all that work get buried in the sermon archive? Take the YouTube or Vimeo link and get your web person to drop it right onto the giving page with a sentence above it that says:
“Here is our most recent sermon length teaching on giving if you’d like to go deeper.”
This is especially helpful for the new people at your church, and even more so if they came from an unhealthy giving culture.On your church's GIVE page, link your pastor's most recent teaching on the subject of giving. Why let all that work and research get lost in the shuffle? Also, it will help cast a vision for every potential giver. Click To Tweet
Innovative online giving ideas: 7 Ways To Increase Online Tithing For Churches
6. Make it clear where people can go to ask questions.
Often, the giving page isn’t just for giving. Other items that might live there include:
- Annual report
- Fundraising campaigns
- Church finance questions
- Budget updates
All you need here is one sentence like:
“If you have further questions about the financial side of our church, just email . . .”
The interesting thing, based on my experience, is that hardly anyone will ever actually email that person with questions, but the very offer of a follow-up demonstrates transparency and gives people peace of mind.
Don’t forget, the follow-up contact person should be someone who has a clear and detailed handle on how the church’s finances are being stewarded. They also need to be a strong enough communicator to explain it well to someone with questions.Create transparency and peace of mind by having a contact listed on your church's GIVE page. The individual should be both apprised of the finances and able to clearly communicate it to a lay person. Click To Tweet
7. Integrate online giving into your church management software.
Again, any online giving platform worth a look will be easily able to integrate with your other platforms.
For one thing, this will make the act of generating giving statements way easier throughout the year. Fair warning, this can get a little snarly on the back end as you try to make various things work together.
One digital giving practice includes covering your bases. Before you sign up with an online giving platform, find out what kind of tech support is included during the implementation phase and beyond. Trust me, you’ll have questions.Before you choose your church's online giving platform, find out what kind of tech support is included during the implementation phase and beyond. Click To Tweet
8. Finish well and thank the donor.
After a person completes an online donation, what happens next? If it ends with “Your transaction has been processed,” you’ve just missed a massive opportunity to express gratitude. Also, you’ve overlooked a chance to cast vision once again and remind them what kind of difference their gift will make.
In most cases, a good online giving platform will have customized options available for the confirmation text or email. That said, the person who set up the online giving may not think to tell you that you have options to make it a little more warm and fuzzy. Make sure you ask questions like:
- How much space is available in the text area to include a thank-you?
- Can we embed into the thank-you email a 30-second video from the Pastor?
- Could creative people make a new video once or twice a year talking about recent ways that your generosity is having an impact?
This is a moment where you want to make sure you really get the language right. It’s the last thing your people experience after having just taken a step of faith with their finances. Make it a good moment that strengthens that faith and points them to a greater dependency on the cross of Christ and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
There you have it! I’ve seen these effective digital giving practices used successfully in churches, and I believe your mission will also benefit when you shine a light on the area of giving.