Your church website can serve many purposes, from recruiting new members to serving your local community. One purpose that is met with some apprehension is soliciting donations. In this article I will discuss some approaches to creating compelling content that will alleviate concerns and encourage joyful giving.
Be honest, we get nervous when money leaves our hands. In commerce, we want to be sure we are getting a good deal, and are getting a quality product. When it comes donations, we want to be sure the cause we are giving to is reputable, and that the money will be properly stewarded. Churches need to consider all of these when asking for donations online, as we are indeed selling something. It is just not something that we can hold in our hands.
With those things considered, what should you put on your donation page? This is the page where you intend to house the forms or the call to action that launches a 3rd party service. Here are three things you need to address.
Why should I bother
Consider posting content that addresses why Christians tithe. Post some written content, but audio and video content would be best. When preaching about giving money, you do not want to make your users work! Accompany these with Bible verses that nudges your Christian audience to act.
What will my money enable
List all of the ministries that are getting these resources as well as the impacts they are having. Some people have a heart for local efforts, while others feel a pull for those in more dire circumstances around the world. Present content that tells users what ministries they are helping, where those ministries are located, and the lives it has changed. Probably the most powerful message are testimonials. First, have someone your ministry has helped tell their story of how God stepped in and saved them. Then ask someone who is engaged in the ministry tell how serving God has changed their own heart.
How will it be spent
Two ways you can convey how you are stewarding the money are transparency and effects. By providing a view into your budget and allocations, you let people know where their dollars are ending up. People often do not comprehend the expenses a church faces. Listing out what it takes to run a particular ministry, keep the church building up and running; even something as the cost of refreshments offered at an event helps paint that picture. The benefit may be twofold. Not only can a member set their sights on something like “I will at least strive to pay for the heat & lights at the church”. But they might see the cost of refreshments and realize their catering business could offer food at a discount and help save the church money.
Before you start designing your site or begin the technical implementation of a donation service; consider what will actually drive people to give. Start developing that content in advance or at least in parallel to those other parts. Getting an online donation tool in place with these consideration greatly increases the odds of people actually using it... and I have yet to meet a church that would turn down an opportunity to increase their financial resources!
Photo courtesy of Corne Snijders