As the director of business development for an online and mobile giving platform, I’ve had the privilege of a front row seat to the many new tools and technologies introduced in recent years. Tools that make it easier, faster, safer, and cheaper for churchgoers to give to their churches.
Online giving, text giving, mobile apps, crowd-funding pages, kiosks, widgets, gizmos, gadgets, you name it! It seems like every month there is a new “game changing” technology that is poised to “redefine church giving as we know it.”
In this rapidly changing environment, I’ve often felt the same frustration that many pastors and church leaders wrestle with: Where do I even start? Trying to keep up with an ever-changing carousel of “latest's and greatest's” can be an exhausting proposition. Many of the pastors that I talk with are looking for the one thing they can do to impact giving at their church.
Despite tremendous advancements with online and mobile technology in recent years, the most important giving tool churches can employ is one of the tools that has been around the longest: Automated giving.
Mobile giving apps are fantastic tools. The convenience and speed of text giving is tough to beat. But, when it comes to making an immediate impact on your church’s bottom line, there is no better place to focus your efforts than on implementing (and then communicating) an effective recurring giving program.
Here are four of the things scheduled giving can do for your church today:
1) Increase Overall Giving
Any new giving tool or practice you implement should serve to increase the volume of giving that is occurring at your church. It just so happens that a recurring giving option is perhaps the most effective way to do so. And that’s not just an opinion. A 2012 survey of over 1,000 churches found that “the ability to accept automatic, recurring donations” was the single most important factor shared by financially healthy churches. Plain and simple: It works!
2) Smooth Out Seasonal Dips in Giving
With recurring giving, empty seats don’t have to equal empty bank accounts. The “Summer Giving Slump” has long been the source of weeping and gnashing of teeth in church finance offices. But it doesn’t have to be! When your members have the option to automate their giving from one month to the next, their gifts don’t have to travel with them when they leave town for a couple weeks of vacation. Effective scheduled giving programs mean the summer months can become some of the best giving months of the year.
3) Enable Your Team to Plan for Future Giving
Automated giving is reliable and consistent, which is advantageous not only for your givers but for your finance team as well. Cash flow becomes steadier from one month to the next. Recurring giving reports (provided by most giving platforms) make budgeting a breeze. Committed givers allow ministry leaders to more confidently plan future events and outreach opportunities. A true win-win-win for everyone involved!
4) Turn Occasional “Tippers” Into Consistent “Tithers”
I’ve saved the best for last because, ultimately, this is what it’s about, right? It’s not about more money, or bigger buildings, or fatter bank accounts. It’s about helping your members discover a life of disciplined and consistent stewardship. Not the kind of giving where a wad of bills are haphazardly dropped into the plate each week (i.e. a “tip”), the kind of committed, sacrificial giving described in 1 Timothy 6:17-19, 2 Corinthians 8:3-4, and elsewhere in The Bible. Recurring giving alone, won’t bring that about, but it will go far in helping some of your givers get there. I know because that’s exactly what it did for me.
When it comes to recurring giving, there’s no wrong answer. Electronic funds transfers (EFT), physical pledge cards in the offerings, or a quick and easy recurring giving option on your website, they’re all winners. Find the one that’s the right focus for your church and encourage your members to begin automating their giving today.