We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – Organisations, charities, churches and anyone that relies on cash donations are really starting to take a hit now that we are turning into a cashless society. People tend not to carry cash, everything can be paid for with a quick tap of a credit or debit card – Half the time you don’t even have to enter a pin!
Because of this, it’s even more important to make sure that your church has everything in place for easy, efficient and accessible online donations.
So here are ten top tips for making sure your supporters and congregation can easily donate to your church online.
- Winning Website and Online Donation Page
The potential for online giving us huge, but research tends to find that online giving for churches is only at about 15%. The first step to increasing this percentage is your website and online donation page, and making it mobile.
People are always on their smartphones, and if your website doesn’t display properly when someone logs on then you’ll lose that potential donation. Your website and your online donation page should be optimised for mobile. Make sure that it is obvious where to go to donate – Have a ‘Donate Here’ button that stands out against the rest of the page, where people can easily click through to make their donation.
Make sure that branding between your church, website and online donation page is consistent. This creates trust with the donor and reassures them that their money is going direct to you. If possible, it’s also beneficial to keep website visitors on your page rather than leading them to a third-party site to make their donation. You could also consider using a .org domain as these are generally more trusted when making donations.
Once you’ve got your potential donor through your website to your donation page, don’t lose them at the last hurdle by bombarding them with a huge form to fill in. Ask for the least amount of information possible so it’s as quick and as easy as possible to make their donation. Don’t risk losing them – Keep it to the fewest number of steps possible.
- Increase Traffic to Your Church Website
Once you’ve got your website and online donation page looking snazzy, you need to encourage people to actually visit your church’s website. The more people that visit, the more chances you have to turn that visit into an online donation, and thus the more donations you are likely to get.
There are a few great ways that you can promote your church’s website:
– Talk about it during your services – You could even suggest they make their donation there.
– Promote it on your social media channels, and encourage your current supporters to share it with their friends and followers.
– Make sure your church SEO is upto scratch. If you’re not sure how to do this, ask for professional advice, or perhaps someone in your congregation has the skills to help you.
– Promote it in all of your direct mailings and emails.
– Talk about it during events, meetings, and youth groups and make sure it’s easily signposted.
– Add it to any flyers or marketing material you use.
- Create a Church Mobile App
Want easy online donations? There’s an app for that. Today is the age of the smartphone – We have apps for staying connected with friends, banking, booking taxis, ordering take away food, and paying our friends. We’d hazard a guess that the majority of your congregation have a smartphone and are already familiar with apps, so convincing them to download your church app shouldn’t be too difficult.
Imagine your entire congregation having your chuch app on their phone, with the ability to donate at the touch of a button.
Just like your website, your app should be branded consistently with your logo and colours so that they are confident they are interacting with your church. And it’s not just donations that having an app is good for – They are so versatile and open up lots of opportunities for staying in touch with your congregation. You could share sermon recordings, update a blog, advertise events and display information.
- Enable Recurring Donations
Once they’ve donated once, invite them to give on a recurring basis – Maybe monthly or even weekly each Sunday when they will likely have been to a church service.
Online donors are more likely to give more to their church, and also more often. On average, those who give digitally give 33% more than those who donate in cash. They also donate 44% more often.
It’s all about the tools. If they have an easy means of donating at their fingertips, then they can give whenever they feel inspired, and regardless of the fact whether they made it to church that week or not.
And what’s even better than this, is that if you enable them to automate their donations they don’t even have to think about it, safe in the knowledge that their donation will automatically be made for them each week.
Once you’ve done the hard work of inspiring someone to donate that first time, use taht opportunity to not just do it the once but to keep donating. After that you have the lesser job of maintaining a relationship with them and reminding them how much of a difference their regular donations make.
It’s also worth considering suggesting specific gift sizes (e.g. £10, £20, £50) as research has shown that this directly increases the amount that is given.
It is beneficial to make sure donors are aware that they can stop their recurring donation at any point – If they know it’s simple to stop, they are more likely to start!
- Use Text-to-Give Fundraising
There’s a few technological advances that are revolutionising fundraising, and Text-to-give is one of them. It’s super simple and great for organisations that meet regularly like churches.
The great thing about text-to-give is that it’s easy and immediate. No need to remind or hope that your donors will go away and forget to look up your webpage later. With this, they can send a quick text from their phone and make their donation there and then.
No rooting around your handbag for spare coins, no promises of I’ll do it later; just quick and easy donations in the palm of their hand.
- Follow Up With E-mail
It’s pretty clear that regular communication with donors is extremely important, and email is one of the most convenient way to do that, for your church as well as the congregation.
Just as with your website and app, make sure your emails are on brand and compel the reader to want to find out more, entice them to click through to your website, and direct them towards your donation page.
Always personalise your emails as much as possible, so that your members really feel like you’re talking directly to them.
It’s important to balance out your donation emails so not all communication is asking for money. You could alternate them over the course of the month with an email once a week, with fundraising only messages every other week, and non-fundraising messages on the other weeks.
After a donor gives to your page, also make sure that a thank you email is sent – This serves a receipt as well as showing your gratitude for their donation.
- Be Transparent With Finances
Just like with any organisation, not-for-profit or for-profit, donors expect transparency with finances so that they can see how their money is being spent.
You could start by giving your church members insight and access to your budget planning – Maybe set up a committee that helps with the finances where you all meet twice a year to go over the church budget. This also gives them the chance to voice any concerns.
If your church leader makes all the decisions about the churches spending, they will likely face less buy-in from their congregation when it comes to donations.
Be as transparent as possible with your financial reports – Tell them how much you have raised, how that money has been spent and what funds are currently available.
The more you involve them, and prove how much difference their donations are making, the more likely they are to feel comfortable donating.
- Encourage Engagement
Sometimes it’s about quality, not quantity. You would be much better off with an engaged congregation of 100 people willing to give, than with a group of 1000 attendees who were disengaged with your mission and unwilling to donate.
Your church is a community-driven organisation and as such, will likely have passionate members who care about your cause and are willing to mobilise and encourage their friends and family to be a part of that community too. And how better to become a part of that community, than by making a donation?
The more enaged people are with your church and your causes, the more passionate they will be about making your mission theirs too.
Fundraising largely stems from building strong relationships with your supporters and members. Use these relationships to empower your supporters and encourage them to fundraise themselves on behalf of the church.
Peer to peer fundraising is a brilliant opportunity to raise money as people really buy in to a cause when it’s being sold to them by a friend or family member. Seeing someone who is important to them, fundraising so passionately for a cause they really care about is bound to bring in donations. They are more emotionally engaged and more likely to give, and give generously. (See our previous blog on the Psychology of Giving – People love to look generous in front of their peers!).
Do it in the right way, offer the right tools for their fundraising, and support them the whole way and you’re bound to not just increase your donations but also your church growth and community.
- Keep Donors Updated
We spoke about emails earlier, but it’s important to regularly get in touch with your donors and let them know exactly how their money is having a positive effect. The more your donors feel directly connected to your mission, the more likely they are to keep giving. When they can see how much good change their donation is bringing, they will naturally want to keep helping. People nowadays really want to make a difference, and if you can show them that they are doing just that through donating, they will want to keep giving.
You should always use a donor’s gift in the way that they intended. So for example, if they fundraised to fix the church’s sounds system to make worship accessible for all, you should try wherever possible to only use this money for just that.
If this becomes impossible due to priorities changing and something else becoming more urgent, then make sure you are very transparent in what you are doing. This is where it really helps keep the trust if members of the congregation are a part of your finance committee.
If you have donors giving to different things, make sure that the communication they receive is specific to that area when you communicate with them.
- Be Grateful
Make sure your donors know that you are thankful for them. Let them know that you are grateful for their donations, and make the thank you as personal as possible.
Keep the process of how you do this as realistic as possible – Maybe you would like to hand write a thank you to each and every donor. But realistically, there probably isn’t time for that.
But whatever thank you you can achieve, letting your donors know they are appreciated is well worth the effort.
Devoting your time to your current donors and showing your appreciation of them will certainly pay off in the future.
It’s so important that churches have a succesful fundraising strategy, and bringing your donations online is a huge part of that. We hope that these tips will help you to highlight what things you could work on and what you are already doing well, so you can keep your mission alive.