Parishes rely on the donations of their congregation to not only be able to operate but to be a blessing to the community. That's why generosity is very important to parishes. The beautiful thing is that when people give, others are greatly impacted.
But just because parishioners might know it is good to give, they don't always do it. Some simply don't understand the reason why it's important to give; others operate under the misconception that parishes aren't going to do the right thing with their money.
To help encourage people in their generosity, share what the Bible says about money, tithes and offerings, giving, and generosity. Along with this, mention all the convenient ways to give so that your parishioners know how they can participate. Flexible payment options simplify the process so donors can give easily and regularly.
This is where online giving for parishes comes in.
Sixty percent of donors are willing to give to their parishes digitally. In fact, parishes that accept online tithes and offerings can see a 32% percent increase in their overall donations.
In this post, we will talk about what online giving is, the various types of digital giving options, why parishes should use online giving, and how to utilize these platforms to grow your parish and minister to those in your area and beyond.
What is an online giving platform?
Online giving platforms help parishes collect and manage money in an efficient manner. It is the software that allows parishioners to give their tithes online and contribute to specific giving campaigns electronically. It is a paperless transaction allowing contributions to be transferred directly from a donor's bank account or debit/credit cards directly to the parish.
With online giving, there are multiple ways to give outside of dropping cash or check into an offering plate as it passes by. It's convenient for donors and saves time for parish staff. It can also encourage more giving because people can contribute from anywhere at any time right from their fingertips.
When choosing an online giving platform, be sure that it integrates smoothly with your general church management software (ChMS) because this will make it even easier to track finances and view trends in giving.
Types of Digital Giving
One of the most utilized forms of giving is through your parish website. Create custom payment forms within your giving web page. These allow donors to easily input information, like their name, contact information, the amount of money they desire to donate, the frequency of their gift, and which ministry or campaign they would like it to be designated. Don't forget to make it easy for people to find your giving link, whether that's through tabs and buttons on your homepage or directing people there from email or social media.
Parish Mobile App
Parishioners can send donations, schedule recurring giving, or contribute to a giving campaign all through their smartphone via your mobile app. Meet the needs of an on-the-go congregation with this mobile-friendly giving option. They can manage their giving on their phone and contribute during the offering moment at Mass, during the week, or wherever they may be.
Text to Give
Support successful stewardship with text giving. People always have their phone, so texting to give is a hassle-free way for parishioners to donate right from their fingertips. They simply text a keyword, like GIVE, to your parish's designated number. Then they will be prompted to fill out a giving form to submit their payment in only a few seconds. And once they're in the system, they'll be able to give even faster by simply texting the amount they desire to give.
Giving kiosks have been around for a while, and for good reason. Parishioners have the ability to give in the moment with their debit/credit cards using a touch screen kiosk that is moveable. They can be placed in the lobby, the back of the sanctuary, or even in classrooms. They can be used for more than giving, too. Kiosks make registration and child check-in a breeze.
Why Parishes Should Use Online Giving
Giving electronically via websites, apps, texting, or kiosks can help lessen the administrative burden on clergy and parish staff, increase generosity among the congregation, and promote overall parish growth.
When people have easy access and multiple options to give, they'll be more likely to contribute even more to the great work your parish is doing. Below are some of the reasons why your parish should use an online giving platform.
People aren't really carrying cash/checks
In this digital age, few people have cash on them and even fewer write checks. In fact, in a recent study, fewer than 16% of people that were polled carried cash on their person. These days, your parishioners are increasingly reliant on online banking, often using debit and credit cards and automating their spending and giving.
Some still utilize the envelope and drop their tithe in the offering plate, but parishes who aren't also using online giving are missing out on the vast majority of people who prefer to give electronically.
Easier for donors to use
Giving online is convenient. Multiple ways to give helps parishioners donate in the way they prefer, whether through your parish website, by texting an amount, or submitting payments through a mobile app.
And since these methods accept debit cards, credit cards, or bank transfers, the giver can choose how the money is transferred. With complete control over the source of their giving, your donors will experience an even greater freedom to give.
Easier for parish staff to manage
Using an online donation platform greatly improves organization and management when it comes to parish finances. Administration is simpler because the entire giving process is automated. Your admin team will be empowered to keep giving transactions and records automatically and accurately.
Another time saver is that parishioners can even manage their own giving accounts, lessening the workload for accounting staff. It will also save money on printing and mailing costs with online viewing of personal contribution statements.
The majority of parishes who have implemented online giving have seen an increase in overall donations. Because it's easy and convenient to use, more people are willing to give. In fact, one study found that online giving grew 20.7 percent in 2020 with the most funds raised coming from online donations.
Setting up recurring giving (more about this below) also encourages consistent donations (which can increase overall giving) because it automates what people would give anyway but might forget otherwise.
Today's parishioners are busy and on-the-go. Most of their finances are already automated so they don't have to constantly remember to send payments. Having the capacity to give whenever people feel led, regardless of where they are, can really benefit the Church.
Even if somebody cannot attend Mass in person, they can still give from the comfort of their home, the marketplace, or wherever generosity strikes them. It encourages giving even if people miss Mass.
Integrations with other software
Save time and effort with an online giving program that integrates seamlessly with the other software your parish is using. It's much easier when your programs can “talk” to each other so you spend less time inputting duplicate information. It also helps to minimize errors.
With software integration, you can streamline event registration. Export transaction data for use in your accounting software. Connect with and manage donors with integrated church management software.
Smart, Simple and Integrated Church Management Software
Recurring giving options help to stabilize giving trends and reduce slumps in slower seasons. It's easy-to-use for donors and beneficial for your parish. Simply include a button or checkbox in your online giving form for people to easily indicate they want their gift to be automated.
It makes parish budgeting easier, too, because your team can have a better idea of what to expect throughout the year with consistent, monetary donations.
Various fund categories can help to encourage people to give to something specific. Yes, they can still choose the general parish fund, but you can provide a drop-down menu to specify ministries, goals, projects, campaigns, or buildings that you might be raising money for.
Often, people want to get behind a certain project or ministry that they're passionate about. This can inspire even more people to give.
Managing ministry finances is already challenging enough. Simplify things by creating valuable giving reports for leadership and track data to help predict progression and fluctuations.
Graph monthly trends, recurring giving, and forecasting. Generate reports by person, date range, funds, or transactions.
How to Make Online Giving Effective
Share the heart behind giving
One way to assist your parishioners with getting on board with giving is to help them understand the heart behind why we give in the first place. Giving is biblical, so share with your congregation how being generous means we are walking in faith and obedience.
God calls us to have a heart of generosity. Let your congregation know how they can also have an eternal impact through their financial contributions. Below are some Bible verses to help share God's perspective:
Scriptures about Giving
What does the Bible say about giving? There are literally hundreds of verses that talk about money.
When people understand the why behind giving, and that it is more of a spiritual thing than a money thing, they'll be further committed to giving. As a parish leader or clergy member, you are probably very familiar with these verses. But maybe consider reteaching or expounding on these topics in your sermons, in emails, or devotionals.
Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7
But who am I and who are my people that we should be able to offer as generously as this? For all things come from You, and from Your hand we have given to You. 1 Chronicles 29:14
A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. Proverbs 11:25
Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Luke 6:38
Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops. Proverbs 3:9
Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. Malachi 3:10
Talk about online giving
In order for your parishioners to know about giving, specifically that you have an online giving solution, you'll need to mention it. Share from the pulpit about why we give and how to do it. Talk about the options on your webpage or in email campaigns that you send. Share social media posts with your giving link or the number to text to give.
Leadership as an example
If your staff and volunteers are leading by example, it will encourage your parishioners to be more consistent in their giving. How can we expect to build a community of generosity if the leaders aren't paving the way? Maybe even have a pastor demonstrate the online giving process from the pulpit to show how easy it is.
Make it easily accessible
Sure, you have all of these convenient ways to give, but if they're not easily accessible, people might miss out on the opportunity. Highlight your giving page on your website with tabs and buttons that are clearly defined. Include links from your parish social media posts and email blasts that direct them to your giving forms. People shouldn't have to search high and low to figure out how to contribute.
Recurring giving is an easy way for donors to give of their first fruits because they won't have to be reminded. If they automate their donations, it will reduce the chance of them forgetting their tithe at Mass. They can select how much and when their money will be transferred. This is one way parishioners can help the overall vision of your parish, and they can give even when they aren't at Mass.
One beneficial feature to online giving is having various funds for people to give to. With fund management, participants can choose which ministry, project, campus, or campaign they want to support. Host a giving campaign during seasonal slumps or when you're trying to raise money for a special project. People love to get behind ministry that they're passionate about.
Stories/testimonies about giving
Sharing stories about the faith and obedience behind giving can help move others to do the same. Explain how somebody had given financially and how it impacted not only their life but especially those whom it served. Tell stories about the community influence a certain giving campaign funded. Publish testimonies on your parish blog or send updates in donor emails.
Thank your donors
Another great feature of digital giving for parishes is the ability to track who has donated what because it's automatically updated. With this, you can send emails and letters to thank donors for their contributions and update them about how their gift is expanding ministry throughout your area. Send customized thank you and receipt emails. This will help encourage more giving because they will feel appreciated, thus furthering your parish's mission and honoring God in the process.
If you want to inspire generosity and save valuable time doing less administrative work and more time for ministry, check out Online Giving through ParishSOFT. We'll help make it easier for your congregation to give by offering a robust, integrated digital giving platform.
Parishioners can give easily, from anywhere. Parish staff will appreciate the donation management and reporting features, too. Sign up today to see how seamless online giving is with ParishSOFT. Let us help you reach your goals by reducing administrative work, increasing generosity, and growing your parish.