Some time ago, we surveyed 1,078 churches to get an idea of how churches are doing financially, and what was influencing their giving. What we found was surprising. We learned that 86% of churches are either broke, or behind budget.

But, the 14% that were above budget all shared something in common. All of them offered online giving as a means for their congregations to easily contribute. The impact on these churches’ financial health was so big in fact, that they ranked online giving as having the greatest impact on their budget. So, that prompted us to do an experiment.

We made online donations to 100 different churches, and tracked everything to learn what we could about the online giving process. Here are seven takeaways from the results that you can implement right now:

1. Don’t make it impossible for people to give. Passing the offering plate on Sunday is great, but it’s not the only day of the week people give. Make sure your website is set up for people to give when it is convenient for them.

2. Make the GIVE button easy to find. People are impatient when it comes to looking for things online. If we don’t find what we’re looking for quickly, we give up. So make sure the give button is visible.

3. Speed it up already. Don’t have too many steps for a user to go through, or too much text to read. Again, we’re impatient when it comes to doing things online.

4. Accept credit cards. Yet again, this is a matter of convenience for your congregation.

5. Turn one-time donations into recurring contributions. For the churches we surveyed, enabling recurring donations was the biggest factor in exceeding their budgets.

6. Say thanks immediately. When someone in your congregation gives, you have the opportunity to appreciate them, and educate them on what God is doing in your church. The best way to do this is with a confirmation email, not a confirmation page.

7. Go the extra mile. Of all the churches surveyed, only nine took the time to write a handwritten note, or letter. While we live in a world of text messages and emails, it’s personal notes that go a long way with making someone feel appreciated.

Online Donation ReportWant to learn more about our findings? Download the free ebook, The Online Donation Report. In it we unpack the seven action items listed above in more detail. We also explain how to increase giving using online giving, and provide real examples of churches applying these principles.

So, what if your church falls into the 86% group that needs help with your finances? I’d like to invite you to join hundreds of other churches in the Giving Rocket community.  You can get a 7-day free trial right here.  Should you decide to continue, we’ll help you create a system to increase your online giving, attract new givers and appreciate your current givers.

 

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