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The Give and Take of Giving

Your members want to be generous.  But as more of their daily activities involve smartphones and the Internet, and fewer of them carry cash and checkbooks, sometimes churches make it hard for their members and visitors to give how, when and where they want.

When we surveyed more than 1,000 U.S. churchgoers about their attitudes and preferences toward giving to their church, one finding that jumped out was their desire for exactly this type of engagement – for churches to meet them where they are with the giving options they expect. This is an especially important consideration as you prepare for your most-attended services of the year.

All churchgoers – whether regular members or visitors, and no matter their age — want to feel welcome, and one of the ways churches can create a welcoming atmosphere is to have a range of convenient giving options available. Asking your members to simply fall in line with traditional giving isn’t just off-putting; it also doesn’t set up your church for long-term financial success.

Who wants the convenience of e-Giving?
Your members who want e-Giving may not be who you think they are. While electronic giving has traditionally been viewed as a way for members to give when they can’t attend services, many frequent churchgoers also want alternatives.

In fact, active churchgoers expressed the highest demand for e-Giving in our survey. They sometimes can’t attend services because they’re participating in other areas of their church’s mission, but they still want to offer their financial support. Members who most prefer e-Giving take part in two or more activities per week, hold leadership or committee roles, or have children involved in Sunday school, afterschool or youth sports programs.

And don’t forget about your occasional visitors, especially during Easter when attendance at services may be as much as 50 percent higher than normal. These visitors tend to give more on average than regular members. They don’t have pledge envelopes and are also more likely to have their smartphone instead of a checkbook. Churches need to offer other ways to give, or risk losing their financial support.

What e-Giving options should your church offer?
Our findings also show that members want multiple options, similar to the various ways they have to pay for purchases at retail stores. Sometimes they prefer to make a credit card donation online, through a text message, or at a kiosk. Other times, they remember to bring a check or cash for the donation plate.

While 25 percent of the survey respondents said their churches offer electronic giving, 60 percent said they would prefer to use e-Giving if they had the option. Asked about specific ways to give, four times as many said they would prefer to give through text or kiosk than said those options were available.

Method of Giving Available Giving
Preferred Giving
Recurring electronic donation via credit card 17% 34% (2x)
Smartphone (app, text or mobile browser) 12% 22% (2x)
Text Giving 7% 29% (4x)
Kiosk Giving 6% 22% (4x)

Surprisingly, the demand for text and kiosk giving, the options least offered by churches, was even higher among respondents in the 35-44 age group – not the millennials perhaps you’d expect. Of churchgoers in this slightly older group, 37 percent expressed a preference for giving through a kiosk and 30 percent preferred text giving.

Churches have to consider offering a variety of giving choices to engage their members where they are and how they prefer to give.

How can Vanco help?
Vanco’s e-Giving solutions integrate seamlessly with ACST software and allow members to donate using the modern, convenient options they prefer.

And, when your members take advantage of electronic giving, your staff receives one detailed contribution report that provides insights into their giving habits and saves hours of processing time. This year, help members fulfill their intentions to give.

Churches need to know how their members feel about giving so they can make informed decisions about their stewardship and offer the methods that will best support their mission. Our mission is to help them recognize the Giving Gaps in their programs and understand how their members feel about giving — that’s why we’ll always work to provide them with the most updated strategies, tools and data.

Download report

This blog was written and provided by Jan Jasmin. Jan is the Senior Vice President of Faith-Based Sales for Vanco Payment Solutions, a leading provider of e-Giving solutions to more than 20,000 churches.

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