Churches need financial resources to operate. One way to solicit those resources is via your church website. To craft an enjoyable giving experience, you need to account for all of the types of giving, as well as what motivated people to give.
In my previous posts, I talked about supporting content for your donations page. I urged you to put information about why they should donate, what impacts it will have, and proof as to how it will be wisely spent. No I will delve into what kind of donations you need to consider. Each has unique aspects; including motivation and expected outcomes. Below I will delve into the finer points of each.
One Time Donation
These donations are often because of a special need that the church announces, or a special event in a person’s life. They are often above and beyond your typical weekly offerings, and should be treated with special care.
The church may ask for a special Year End gift around Christmas time. You might have a special drive to accomplish a goal, such as buy a new furnace or finance a mission trip. Regardless, content that describes these one-time donations should be present somewhere on the site. With this type of donation, there is an expected outcome. The furnace will be purchased and everyone can stop wearing coats during the service. The mission trip will happen, lives will be changed, and photos will be posted on Facebook. Just be sure to follow through and use these outcomes as content for the next revision of your donations page.
These donations often involve a special circumstance in a person’s life. It may be a donation for flowers for Mother’s Day, a memorial donation in honor of a deceased loved one. Or the person may have received a bonus at work or won a large sum of money, and they decide to donate a percentage to the church. Either way, try to ask for a description as to why they donated. That information is invaluable when it comes time for your pastor to talk about tithing and giving; since they will know what motivated giving in the past.
Weekly giving is the manna by which the church truly survives. It is this faithful giving that members help sustain ministries year after year. Although this is only one type of donation, I do have two concerns for setting up recurring donations.
Make it easy to start
Many services offer ways to auto-bill a customer. They agree to a certain dollar amount to be charged to their account, which is often connected to withdraw from a checking account, or charge to a credit card. This is a great way to “set it and forget it”, and let technology aid you in your tithing. Make sure you fully explore the service you want to use, and that the process truly easy to set up.
Make it easy to stop
Although you may not want to provide this, there are many reasons your members will want to stop automatically contributing. From moving to another city to switching banks, there may be a variety of good reasons for someone to stop their donations. Regardless of their motivation, be sure to follow up with communication thanking them for their support.
Before you jump head first into accepting online donations, you need to consider what content should support each of these types of giving. You should check with the processing service you are considering to see if they support all of the donation types you wish to accept. You might require different pages for formats of forms, and multiple terms & conditions depending on the agreement you are setting up. Go slow, do your homework, and pray for guidance as you proceed!
Photo courtesy of José A. Warletta