Church panic 101: So I’m a first-time church visitor, enjoying the service, and then I see the ushers walking down the aisle with big brass collection plates.
My problem? No cash. And who uses checks anymore? The glum shake of my head signals bad news to the usher: No donation from me today!
Sound familiar? Truth is, cash and checks are going the way of the coin-operated payphone as online shopping and purchases through credit and debit cards become more convenient. Nearly a third of Americans never use cash at all, according to a survey last year from the Pew Research Center, with younger Americans leading the pack.
This poses big challenges for the multitude of churches still relying on checks and cash in the Sunday offering plate to pay the bills. In fact, about half of all church giving transactions today are done electronically, according to Nonprofits Source.
When churches offer an online option for giving, donations increase. When they offer multiple online and digital options for giving, then donations increase dramatically. Why? Because the more options people have to give, the better chances they will find the one they prefer.
For the uninitiated, the new world of digital giving can be confusing. Giving kiosks, QR codes, giving by text, direct bank transfer, credit card giving – the options are many.
If your church is considering this brave new world, here are some ideas going forward:
- Ask your denomination or judicatory for advice. They may be able to tell you how to get started, or even have a relationship with a vendor who offers special discounted rates. (For instance, ELCA congregations can get a special deal with Tithe.ly, a digital-giving vendor. Click here to learn more.)
- Check out the websites of churches in your area that have an online giving option. Study how they set up their donation pages and what outside companies they work with.
- Contact the churches that seem to have a good online giving presence. Chances are they have opened other doors of giving. Ask if their finance team could share their insights and advise you as you go forward.
- Go slow! Determine a first step that would be easy to take, and go from there. Add on as you feel comfortable going forward.
Whatever you choose, adding a digital giving option will help not only the people who (like me) who don’t carry a lot of cash, it will also help your ministry to God’s people.