More Thoughts on Online Giving

Online giving currently accounts for only 7-8% of all giving to non-profits, which begs the question, “Why bother?” The initial start-up costs are a pain, and the fees are sometimes exorbitant. So why start or encourage online giving, especially at church?

Your members increasingly want to give online. They don’t write checks for anything else, and they will wonder why they have to write checks to church. We have promoted our online giving option over the last year, and now one of every three dollars given at church is online. This is up from only 10% two years ago. Our members have found out how easy it is. They like it.

Online giving increases total giving. Last year, I started giving online exclusively. When December 1 rolled around I saw that I had given more to church by that date than any other year. I had less to “catch up” on than ever before. I make up my “deficit” every December. But not every person does that. A family at church bragged to me about how easy online giving was. They had previously been sporadic givers at best. Since we have promoted online giving, the total number of giving units has gone up quite significantly.

Think about the future. My mother has not made or will ever make a single online donation. Her older than he wants to admit son has started giving online almost exclusively. My college age son and philanthropy? He already makes a monthly online donation to Compassion International and doesn’t even have a checkbook. If we expect millennials to give, we really need to provide online options, including text giving.

People give more regularly. They set up the automatic withdrawal and forget about it. I am convinced the more people you have giving online, the fewer ups and downs you will have during the giving year. The summer slump will not be as dramatic. If someone gives you $12,000 in a given year, you will most likely receive it in 24 equal installments, not $9,000 through November and $3,000 in December. (Those who receive bonuses will still make additional gifts in December, however.)

In the next blog, I will offer a few tips about starting online giving at church.