"Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.”- Matthew 5:42
As members of a church, we understand how important it is to tithe. The gratitude we feel for all that God has blessed us with spills over into the ways we support the church and our community. An important part of how we participate in the growth of the church is financial support. We get to be a part of what God is doing through our local church by contributing our financial resources. We all know this and try to live it out and encourage our congregations to do the same.
But since you work within the church, you see a whole different side of giving. You see the power of this gift. And, in the best way possible, your job is to build a platform to make tithing and giving easier for your church. Online giving has become that tool in the ever-growing, more-tech-savvy, globally-minded church we have become. You should want to make online giving a convenient, integrated part of your church website experience so that more members will see the tie to your church mission and easily support the work of your church.
So let’s talk about the most basic aspect of giving online: getting started. Here is your how-to guide for setting up online giving for churches in a way that blends with your website aesthetic and feels natural to your members.
Choosing Your Online Giving Platform
Your first step in setting up online giving is choosing the correct online giving platform for your church. There are plenty of online giving tools out there, but it's important to do your research and choose the tool that fits your church's needs, budget, and vision of your church.
When researching tools, it's important to look beyond the price tag. While one tool may cost more monthly, it may offer exceptional customer service or more options for giving methods. Also be aware of any hidden fees or setup costs.
Be sure to read online reviews from church communicators and to learn about their experiences with these tools. As a church communicator myself, I know how hard it can be to present your choice to your leadership team. Read our online giving buyer's guide for more tips on how to present your choice to your leadership team.
Personalize Your Giving Platform
Once you’ve set up the technical and security details of your online giving tool, think about the user experience (often referred to as UX) your members will have when they make a donation. You can’t just slap a form in a sidebar and hope members understand how important it is. By giving context to your giving, you can make tithing a more dynamic, meaningful experience for your members. Going digital simply provides a way for giving to feel even more integrated in our daily lives.
Here are a few ways you can optimize this online context for your members:
- Have a menu navigation item or a prominent button on your homepage saying, "Give," “Support,” or another active verb. This will attract those who are interested in tithing and start them on the path.
- This button should lead to a page that explains how tithing connects to your unique church mission. Which aspects of your ministry would be impossible without the financial support of your community? Where does this money go, and how does that fuel your church mission?
- Include a story, picture, or video––something that visually demonstrates how important this is and makes an emotional connection. Show the user a story of how tithing spurs change in the church and in the community. Motivate your visitor with love, service, or scripture.
- This page should also have instructions for navigating the actual giving form, such as, "Click here if you're already an online giving member" or, "Click here if this is your first time giving online with us."
- Keep the branding consistent between your website and the giving platform. It is important to ensure everything looks secure and matches the rest of your website––just like they are used to seeing. If your members feel like they’re being directed to an entirely different website, they may question the safety of inputting their account information.
- Include a thank you message for your donor. They’ve contributed something very special to your church, and this is your chance to thank them for their support. In this pop-up message (or follow-up email), thank them and remind them how the money will be spent. Be sure to address any possible next steps as well. Note what the name of the transaction will be when it appears on their bank statement. Especially if it is processed through a third-party, some transactions may not appear with the specific name of your church. Help your donors feel good about what they’ve just done. :)
Promote Your Giving Path
Now that you’ve created these smooth steps for your donors to follow, don’t let your online giving tool gather dust. There are many ways you can promote your online giving path––whether it’s by featuring it on even more pages of your website, putting a button in a sidebar, including it into your sermon series or newsletters, or simply talking about it regularly and openly in your church.
The fact of the matter is, financial support is an essential part of keeping your church functional. The good news is that there are ways ways to communicate giving without feeling tacky or pushy. If you keep your church mission at the heart of your giving messaging, you take the focus off of the dollars and cents, and keep it on spreading the love of Jesus and the growth of your mission.