How much cash do you have in your wallet right now? If you’re like most of us it’s probably significantly less than it used to be. The Internet and online shopping have revolutionized the way people spend, save and give and we in the church need to keep up. A 2018 study in Money magazine found that 70% of people have less than $100 in their wallet at any given time – 42% have less than $40. No matter how people handle money, churches are impacted. If your church only passes a plate on Sundays, you are missing a huge and growing source of income: online giving.
The generation that does everything in cash is gone. The generation that writes a check before heading off to church is also disappearing. College students and young working adults often function entirely with plastic. Debit cards are the new check-writing. They will not throw their debit card into the plate and they don’t have any cash, especially on a Sunday morning.
Additionally, your audience is now much larger than your Sunday attendance or those in your community. Due to Covid, very many churches are now providing online worship experiences that reach far beyond the church walls. People are consuming worship experiences at their convenience, and not solely at “the one hour that God prefers to be worshipped” (as my dad used to say). If they are watching worship from home, you need to help them be able to give from home.
Churches MUST expand the ways in which parishioners and guests can contribute to their ministries. Here’s a quick list of avenues your finance committee should explore:
- Encourage direct deposit to the church through an individual’s “online bill paying” portal at their bank. Make it easy through your website.
- Contract with an online giving company to receive and transfer funds to your church. Then by putting a link on your church’s website and Facebook page, or putting a QR Code on the back of your bulletin, folks can click and donate to your church online, and at their convenience. In one of my churches, a gentleman used his “miles” credit card to make his donation each month. He paid off the card with each billing cycle, and he reaped the benefit of all those miles gained because of his using the card to give to the church.
These two options are the bare minimum every church should start with. Studies have shown that the increase in giving more than pays for any fees incurred. Once you have these in place then you may want to consider:
- Offering a “giving by text” option, where a worshiper can go to their phone and text an amount of giving to a designated phone number and instantly transfer funds to your church or third-party facilitator.
- Having a desk or kiosk giving center in your lobby or narthex, where worshipers can simply have their cards swiped electronically, and determine an amount they want to give just like a purchase in a store. With “Square readers” attached to a cellphone or phone line, you can make giving as easy as buying lunch after church.
If my small, part-time church has set up online giving so can yours. Contact the Foundation if you would like resources to help you get started.
Rev Dr Bruce A Jones
Pastor, Concord UMC, Seaford, DE