Calling on your community to support your organization’s work and inviting them to draw closer to discipleship in the process must be handled in a mindful manner. Faith is no casual matter, and you’ve probably noticed that approaching members with a heart full of care for your cause is essential.
However, in a fast-paced, overscheduled world, care may not be enough to maintain and inspire growing engagement with your supporters and members. Growing—and not to mention maintaining—engagement with your community is an entirely different story. Care alone might not be enough when there are so many other activities, worries, and distractions in our daily lives!
Whether to support your daily operations, annual mission trips, or charitable deeds, your religious group needs an engaged community to continue your good work. Luckily, there is a way to streamline this giving process and help maintain these essential relationships! Choosing the right church giving software and following a few best practices is sure to help.
Check out the following tactics sure to strengthen engagement between your organization and its supporters and members:
- Use dedicated church giving software.
- Meet congregants where they are.
- Offer multiple, intuitive giving methods.
- Provide easy recurring gift options.
- Fully integrate the giving process.
- Keep your giving platform familiar.
Implementing all of these tactics may seem like a huge task, but a well-designed faith-based giving platform can help. Follow along for a breakdown of the above points to learn how.
1. Use dedicated church giving software.
The first of these 6 steps, using a faith-based giving platform, will actually allow you to accomplish the following 5.
Church giving platforms are a type of software that facilitate online giving to your organization. These online platforms allow members to conveniently express their generosity while also allowing you to conveniently process and gather financial reports on the incoming gifts.
Designed with the specific needs of these organizations in mind, religious giving platforms are optimized for online giving of all forms, including mobile and text-to-give options as well as check and cash options. Most importantly, these tools make it easy to modernize your tithing practices all while maintaining the very personal nature of faith-inspired giving.
Read on for more information on how these faith-based giving platforms can help the management of your organization.
2. Meet congregants where they are.
Just as many religious organizations have started simulcasting services for members near and far, you want to approach giving in the same fashion.
At each service, meeting, or gathering that you host for your community, you probably provide a way for members to give in person—whether through taking up an offering or through another manner. There’s nothing wrong with these tried and true methods!
However, you’re now living in an ever-connected digital world—it’s not always convenient to give in the traditional way! By providing options that allow for members to donate where they are, wherever that may be, you’ll provide a convenient option that’s sure to increase engagement.
You can expand this idea to both physical location and platform of choice by optimizing your giving platforms for both mobile devices and general online giving. This will allow members to donate both on-the-go and through whichever device they prefer!
There are a few popular ways of giving that you can (and should) optimize your tools to support:
- Online giving allows members to give to your organization at any time and from any place through a fully-customizable giving page on your website.
- Mobile giving relies on having a webpage that’s optimized for a mobile browser. By organizing your mobile webpage to show the same informative instructions as shown on a desktop, they’ll have the freedom to make a contribution without a computer! Just make sure your giving form works just as well on a small screen as it does a larger one.
- Text-to-give options allow members to make contributions by texting a keyword to a number assigned to your organization. Following a few prompts, they are then easily able to complete their gift without having to hunt down a webpage!
By making use of one or more of these giving methods, you’ll invite every member– near and far– to practice generosity through giving to your organization.
Bonus! For more information on church giving software and other tried-and-true tips for raising funds, check out an exhaustive list of ideas here.
3. Offer multiple, intuitive giving methods.
While creating a framework allowing both online and physical giving is a great start, there are ways you can further optimize this process. There’s no point in optimizing the online platforms for members to give through if you’re going to risk driving them away with an overly-complicated giving process later on!
Accepting multiple giving methods through which your members can exercise their generosity is one of the easiest ways to increase engagement.
When you think of online and mobile giving, you probably think of credit/debit card-based transactions. In fact, most of your congregants will probably use this method! However, there is likely also a subset of your population that prefers more traditional methods—like checks—when giving. That population needs to be served as well!
Some popular methods of giving that should be included are:
- Credit/debit card is an option growing in popularity, allowing members to donate even if they may not have cash or check on their person at the time.
- Check scanning and processing, including money orders, traveler’s checks, personal checks and business checks allows for members to donate in a way that might be more convenient, familiar, and trustworthy for them.
- Cash envelope scanning and processing allows your organization to track cash gifts just as you would checks, scanning the envelope containing the contribution and gathering information on the member such as name and their intended purpose for the gift.
Choosing a church giving software that allows for each type of contribution will welcome gifts from all members—both those equipped with card and pen.
4. Provide easy recurring gift options.
You probably have many members that already give with some level of regularity, whether through tithing or a weekly offering. You can further simplify your already inclusive mobile and online giving platform for these members by providing easy options for recurring gifts!
Prioritizing a faith-based giving platform with options for these recurrent gift-givers is vital. A platform with fully customizable recurring gift options will allow them to exercise this generosity without the added stress of remembering to complete their gifts each and every time!
Providing convenient options for these members also benefits your organization, as you can track this regular support and plan accordingly.
5. Fully integrate the giving process.
The idea of a fully integrated church giving platform is actually two-fold in that it benefits both your members and your organization’s internal systems.
Often, large religious organizations are spread across multiple campuses in multiple cities. This means there are a ton of gifts, both for the whole organization and for each individual campus, that need to be properly processed and recorded. Tracking all of this can be incredibly difficult!
An interconnected giving platform becomes vital for both keeping record of and correctly allocating these contributions. You may have funds intended for one particular campus, or maybe one particular initiative, and these would be difficult to allocate if each campus used giving tools that weren’t able to communicate effectively with one another!
To help relieve this, tools such as Vision2’s online giving platform ensure that members are able to choose which campus or initiative they are contributing to. You’re then able to track giving by campus/initiative and ensure that the funds are allocated as intended.
Even more impressive are giving platforms that can integrate with the software systems you’re already using for management. Seamless integration of your giving platform with already-existing systems such as those handling membership and overall finances gives you more reliable and easily-accessed information.
Check out a comparison between the various faith-based giving competitors, including PushPay, Vision2, and others.
6. Keep your giving platform familiar.
In addition to maintaining a strong social media presence and sharing inspiring personal stories that highlight the work your organization is doing, it’s important to maintain a familiar presence in your giving processes. There’s no point in raising funds for your organization if you’re losing your central spiritual message in the process!
Customization allows your organization and its values to remain at the forefront of the giving process rather than the platform hosting the giving itself. It shows members that the platform is trustworthy and actually connected to your organization, and it provides a familiar, positive experience that they associate with in-person gifts.
Some methods for customization include:
- Including a link to your giving page within your already-existing website
- Customizing your giving page to include your organization’s familiar branding elements
- Including information on current initiatives on your giving page
- Acknowledging each individual member’s contribution
Something as simple as linking to your giving page right on your website, and then outfitting that page with branding elements familiar to your members, will bring authority to the process and keep your cause front and center. Further, a personalized appreciation note–rather than a software-branded, pre-written option– ensures the experience is a positive one for the supporter.
Bonus! Looking for more fun ways to supplement your online giving and raise funds for your organization? Check out this list of 25 new ways to fund your ministry by Funds2Orgs!
Increasing engagement between your faith-based group and its community members needs to be handled with care– you don’t want to lose the values of your organization in the struggle to fund it!
By utilizing a giving platform created for religious organizations and following these 6 best practices, you’re sure to encourage generosity within your membership, foster deeper engagement and build more meaningful, long-term relationships along the way.
Guest author: Kingsley Allen
Kingsley Allen, VP of Product Development, has been involved in designing, developing, and operating software for over 25 years. Much of his recent career has been invested in helping churches leverage technology to grow and reach people. Kingsley worked with the Fellowship One church management system for 10 years, leading the product and development teams from startup mode through the acquisition by ACTIVE Network. Post-acquisition, he served as general manager of the Faith business unit and strategy and partnerships for ACTIVE’s Communities division. As VP of Product Development at Vision2, he helps guide the continued development of Vision2 into a world-class giving engagement platform.