As with anything new there always seems to be a little pushback. The best strategy to introducing something new is to start with the why? Why are you now offering online giving? Is it because everyone else is doing it? Is it because mega churches offer it and we want to be a mega church? I believe we need a more factual why.
The fact is, more and more people are caring less and less cash. With every new deposit account opened fewer are ordering checks. So that means fewer people even own a checkbook. Passing a plate on Sunday as a primary means to collecting tithes and offerings is only allowing a portion of the people to participate.
Why do we offer online giving? It allows everyone an opportunity to be generous. Equal opportunity generosity.
Here are 4 ways you can kick start your online giving:
1. Explain It
Always start with your leadership and core team. Then move to the congregation. This allows for buy in and the opportunity to answer questions that may come up later on. Online giving is an opportunity for people to give who wouldn’t necessarily carry cash or a checkbook. It also allows an opportunity for people to give when they are unable to attend a service, whether they’re sick or on vacation they can still be engaged. It may also be important to explained what online giving is not. It is not a plan to get everyone to use plastic. Ensure people they can give and continue to give in whatever fashion is best for them. That is their call. We’re only adding an opportunity for more people to engage with generosity.
2. Demonstrate It
For the first few months of announcing online giving, we suggest you take some time to demonstrate it to a large portion of your people. Most of us have a designated offering time during the service. This is a great way to show the simplicity of the processes and how to reach the giving page from a computer or mobile device. Plus, it may also be a great time to get the Youth Pastor in front of the congregation doing something they may feel comfortable with.
If you can’t connect your computer to the video screen during a service and show what the system looks like and how easy it is to give. You may want to make it a point to visit small groups and classes to demonstrate in smaller settings.
There are tools like Reflector that allow you to mirror your phone screen on the main screen in your auditorium. Make a quick donation in a web browser or by text.
3. Promote It
This is the ongoing process. You certainly don’t need to explain and demonstrate online giving on a regular basis in your church. but you do need to mention it. Assuming your like new visitors in your church, you want them to know their giving options. Having a slide or a video (we can provide both at no cost to you) is a great way to keep the option out there. Having a mention in your bulletin or in your newsletter or printing it on your offering envelopes.
My favorite is to mention during the offering time with something like this:
“We’re going to invite the ushers to come forward to collect our tithes and offerings, I know some of you like to give online throughout the week, thank you for doing that. I also know there are some who came prepared to give today so I’m going to pray and the users are going to pass the buckets.”
Call it passive aggressive if you want, but it does 3 things: Lets online givers know you know they give, reminds people that there is an online option available, and allows everyone to feel comfortable about the way they choose to be generous.
4. Online ONLY Offering
Here’s the fun one. Try a Online Only Offering. Set a vision in front of the people. For example, as a church, you want to bless a specific missionary as they are working on a project. They fly to the mission field on Tuesday, so you would like the church to pray for them and bless them financially. Challenge people to get up on Tuesday, pray for them and give to the project online. Explain to them that only the funds that come in online on Tuesday will be sent to the missionary. (Be as strict on this as you want of course, if Phil calls the church office on Tuesday morning and says “I prayed for them today but my internet at home was down, can I bring a check on Sunday?” I’m not going to say, “No.”)
Create a fun opportunity to make an online only offering.
A pastor I know got up to introduce online giving in his church for the first time on a Sunday. He walked his congregation through the steps on the screen and gave $10 to buy a Fire Bible for a kid. Then he told the people, “Let’s see if we can break this thing! Everyone get out your phones and go to our website, click Give, and give 10 bucks for a Fire Bible.”
He failed in breaking the system, but they did raise $14,000 that morning for Fire Bibles.
Creating a process to explain, demonstrate and promote online giving will help your church get off to a great start and open opportunities for more people to connect with God through giving.