Every Sunday, your church probably passes an offering plate around to the congregation. But if you’re anything like other churches nowadays, you’ve probably noticed that offering plate coming back with fewer and fewer gifts.
Not as many people carry cash or checks around in their wallets anymore, making it more and more difficult to collect funding for your church using this method. It’s not that they don’t want to give, but your congregation may just need a new platform.
Online tithing can help dramatically increase the funding you receive for your church.
This guide walks you through the top 10 lessons to create your online tithing strategy as well as to maximize its effectiveness. Read through the entire guide or use the navigation below to jump to the specific section your church needs the most:
- Make the online tithing process simple.
- Keep your online brand consistent.
- Encourage mobile tithing.
- Use strong imagery in your online tithing forms.
- Be thankful throughout the tithing process.
- Create a one-step tithing form.
- Remove the clutter from your online tithing form.
- Feature online tithing buttons everywhere.
- Accept recurring online gifts.
- Offer different levels of online tithing.
Tithing is absolutely essential to your church’s operations. You need money to continue to grow and make a difference in the community around you.
Let’s dive into our first lesson to maximize the effectiveness of your tithing process!
#1. Make the Church Online Tithing Process Simple
Many organizations don’t realize how complicated the church online giving process they’re using may seem to users. You shouldn’t need a degree in computer science in order to make a gift to your church. Consider your own church’s tithing process (maybe even walk through the tithing steps yourself) to evaluate whether or not you need to look into a better online giving solution.
Church members need to be able to easily find and complete your giving forms, or else they may leave without completing the process.
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In order to update this process, your church should:
- Update your church website’s navigation. Once your church members find your site, it should be immediately apparent to them where they should go to submit their offerings. Try adding a large “Tithe Here” button on the home page to draw their eye!
- Don’t require too much information on your giving form. We’re often tempted to ask anything and everything from our supporters on church giving pages. However, this can bog down the process for your church members. Make it quick and easy for them to give.
- Don’t forget about your mobile site. One of the common mistakes churches make when designing their website is not making the site mobile-friendly. While mobile giving may be another entity to concern yourself with later (lesson 3!), be sure your entire site is accessible from a mobile device for members on-the-go.
Takeaway: the most important lesson is that your online donation form should be the most easily accessible function on your church’s website.
#2. Keep Your Church Online Brand Consistent
The brand that you’ve developed should be woven into everything you do, including your donation requests and church online giving.
When church members are redirected to a third-party site that looks nothing like your brand, it can cause them to hesitate about giving because they’re not sure if their hard-earned money will go where it’s intended. This is because they’ve lost faith in the page! One way to keep this faith is to maintain your brand.
Some of the visual aspects of your brand that you should retain on your donation pages to prevent this problem include:
- Keeping your images consistent. While this doesn’t necessarily using the same image on every page, it does mean that keeping the same style image will help establish the brand of your church and your website as a whole.
- Transferring your slogan or mission. State your slogan or mission on your giving page. It’s likely already on the front page of your site, so it’s very familiar to your supporters. Therefore, including it on your tithing page will assure them that their offering will go to you.
- Using a uniform color scheme. You likely have two or three colors that you use to brand your church already. Be sure you have access to the hex color codes for each of these in order to include them on all your pages, including your tithing page.
Having a consistent brand and employing it across your church’s website and tithing page will make your members feel more comfortable about submitting offerings online.
If you want to go the extra mile, keep your brand in mind while writing church letters, creating signs for church events, and any other communication you may have with members!
Takeaway: Be sure your congregation feels at home when they’re on your site and filling out your church’s online tithing form.
#3. Encourage Mobile Tithing
Church members don’t always have cash to give when the tithing plate is passed around. This is especially true in a day and age when fewer and fewer people carry cash in general.
Mobile giving makes it easy for anyone to give wherever and whenever the mood strikes them.
Plus, offerings made on mobile devices are on the rise! In fact, tithing from mobile devices increased 205% from 2015 to 2016; and over 25% of all gift submissions were completed on mobile devices.
Make sure your church knows about their mobile giving options. From their phones, church members can give through services like text-to-tithe, mobile email giving, mobile donation pages, and mobile giving apps.
Text-to-tithe involves donors sending a quick text with their donation amount to a preset number set up by your church. Your church will need to choose a provider in order to set up this number.
Once your congregation member has texted their donation amount to the preset number, they will automatically receive a reply with a link to a pre-written email that, once sent, will submit their donation.
Include the text-to-tithe number in Sunday’s bulletin so your congregation can text in a donation right there from the pew.
Mobile email giving is key because emails are often opened from mobile devices. Therefore, include a tithing opportunity in your church’s regular email newsletter and as a part of the rest of your email communication strategy.
Incorporate a church online tithing button directly into your email campaign so donors can give via the email applications on their phones or tablets.
Mobile donation pages are essential for your church because so many people use their phones to access the internet. Your church members need to be able to view your website on their phones just as easily as they can on their desktop computers, which means:
- Buttons need to be larger and easy to click on.
- There should be fewer steps to reach your tithing page.
- Your website needs to be simple, clean, and easy to read.
Make sure it is easy to navigate from your website to your donation page on mobile, then ensure the tithing page itself is mobile optimized. When you’re looking for a donation page provider, keep an eye out for one that offers customized and mobile-optimized giving pages.
Mobile giving applications act as customized platforms on your smartphone or tablet. Donors can give through this easy application after downloading it on their mobile devices.
Donors can visit this application as often as they want, and give to your organization from wherever they are.
If your church makes donating easy on mobile devices, you’ll likely see growth in gifts across all your giving channels. You can read more about church mobile giving in our comprehensive guide.
Takeaway: Offering mobile tithing options for your supporters encourages more on-the-go church online giving.
#4. Use Strong Imagery in Your Church Online Tithing Forms
They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, which is why including images on your tithing forms is so important. When your church members are scrolling through your site, they’ll be infinitely more captivated by images of the good works you’ve been doing.
Humans are visual creatures. Our brains process imagery faster than text in many circumstances, making them especially effective to create a tone for an online tithing form. What exactly do we mean by “create a tone”? Well, your audience will likely feel something when they look at your tithing page, whether that feeling be empathy, joy, sadness, or any other emotion. Your image can help set this tone in order to convince your audience to donate to your cause.
Some of the most common images used by churches to set a tone include:
- The youth group’s latest mission trip
- People worshiping
- Last weekend’s charity build for the homeless
- Sunday’s service
- The worship band playing
- Vacation bible school
- Churchgoers happily greeting one another
- The plans for your next project
In addition to a more effective tithing page, using effective imagery through photos and other visuals also results in a higher likelihood that your supporters will share the message on social media.
Try to keep your images around 500 x 500 pixels and high quality. The more clearly you can see the subjects in the picture, the better.
Takeaway: Images leave a lasting impact on your members, and it’s always a good idea to include them in your church online giving correspondences.
#5. Be Thankful Throughout the Church Online Tithing Process
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18.
Showing thankfulness for the gifts you receive is pleasing in the eyes of your donors and in the eyes of God.
Everyone loves to be appreciated! After a church member gives, they are at they are excited about your cause.
However, over two-thirds of churches and organizations don’t have a “next step” once a donor gives.
It’s a huge missed opportunity to cultivate relationships with your congregation. Having next steps could encourage tithers to give again.
Thank your donors within 48 hours of their offering. That way, their gifts are still fresh on their minds.
On the “Thank You” page after tithers submit their offerings, include:
- Social sharing buttons
- How their gift will be used.
- Other ways to get involved with the church.
Your church members will appreciate being kept in the loop, thanked on social media, and invited to all of your latest events.
Some church online donation platform providers offer automated “Thank You” email messages that you can send to donors immediately after their gift is received. In these automated messages, you’ll create a template email, then the system will automatically populate the donor’s name into the heading.
Takeaway: Thanking your members quickly and sincerely is a great way to encourage them to continue tithing online.
#6. Create a One-Step Church Online Tithing Form
When presented with the option of going through an involved process to tithe or using a one-step process, people will always choose the latter. Even so, the vast majority of churches require online gift-givers go through at least three steps to submit an offering.
Requiring your members to take multiple steps will cause some to abandon the form without giving.
To reduce the risk of members committing “donation form abandonment,” make sure that your online tithing form involves the fewest number of steps possible.
Invest in a donation form provider with only very few necessary steps to complete the donation. For example, Snowball offers a solution with 2-click giving forms. These two steps are:
- Your church members click on the donate button (and fill out their credit card information if it’s their first time giving).
- They will then be directed to a prewritten email where they just have to click send to confirm their contribution. It’s that easy!
Resist the temptation to ask for a bunch of information from your donors on your donation page. Filling out unnecessary data may bog donors down on your page, encouraging them to leave without giving. On your donation form, be sure to ask only for the most crucial information (name, email address, number, credit card info, etc).
Takeaway: By keeping the church online tithing process as quick and easy as possible, you make it possible for anyone to give from anywhere.
# 7. Remove the Clutter From Your Online Tithing Form
It’s time for a spring cleaning of your church’s website! Studies show that viewers prefer websites that feature larger pictures with fewer words to smaller pictures accompanied by long blocks of text that tend to look “cluttered.”
To encourage church members to stay on your website long enough to tithe, you’ll need to remove a lot of the excess wording and any images that don’t add meaning or value to your site.
Here are some top tips to decluttering your website (while keeping relevant the important elements):
- Don’t fill up your website with chunks of text and tiny pictures. Use large visuals to supplement the limited text.
- Leave only the most important information on your site.
- Include an online calendar to visually represent your upcoming church events.
- Include a sleek, easy-to-use navigation system so finding all the elements on your site is simple.
Remember to include a button or some other visual element on the front page of your site so that donors can easily find the donation page. You may also include your church’s text-to-tithe number on the homepage for easy access.
Takeaway: If your members don’t have to fight against a pile of words on your website, they’ll be more likely to stay and tithe.
#8. Feature Online Tithing Buttons Everywhere
Be sure to embed a “Tithe Here” button on your homepage so that your form is easy to find. That way, you can also encourage all your site’s visitors to make a contribution.
Some best practices for the placement of your tithing button include strategies such as:
- Make your button stand out by making it a different color than the rest of your navigation.
- Place it in a prominent place and make it large enough to stand out.
- Not only should there be a prominently featured “Tithe Here” button on your landing page, but you should include the option to give on every page.
Add several online giving buttons throughout your church’s site, so members don’t have to search around too much to give. These additional donation buttons can be more subtle than the one highlighted on the main page, but they should still attract attention.
Takeaway: The more visible you make your online tithing button, the more likely churchgoers will be to click on it and give on the spot.
#9. Accept Recurring Online Gifts
Receiving a large one-time gift is incredible, but wouldn’t it be better to receive a long-term commitment for gifts, even if they may be a bit smaller?
These smaller gifts add up over time to equal the same amount as a major donation. They’re also an important option to include because recurring donations:
- Appeal to donors who may not be able to give a large donation in a single day for some reason or another, but still want to make a major impact.
- Create a consistent source of income for your church, making it easier to budget and plan for the future.
- Make it easier for donors because they don’t need to fill out their information online (or even log into an account) more than once.
Allowing your church’s members to set up recurring gifts means that your day-to-day projects will be more likely to receive funding because you have regular access to funds.
If you want to accept recurring gifts you need to find church online giving software that has this feature. Then, you’ll need to let your donors know about the option. Try adding a recurring donation button directly onto your online donation page so donors can sign up for this option while giving their first donation.
Takeaway: Recurring gifts are the gifts that keep on giving…literally! That’s why it’s important to learn how to encourage your members to commit to them.
#10. Offer Different Levels of Church Online Tithing
Research has proven that suggesting specific gift sizes ($20, $50, $100) leads directly to an increase in tithing. Most people, when left to make their own choices, will not give quite as much as they would if they were provided with options for how much to tithe.
Churches that switched over to suggested offering amounts on their website’s giving form rather than a fill-in-the-blank option saw an astonishing increase in their completed gift amounts.
The gift amounts that you suggest should correspond directly with your needs. You should also keep in mind the financial limitations of your congregation members. Always be sure to provide smaller offering options for those who would like to tithe but don’t have the means to contribute significantly.
Offer at least 3 options in order to provide a nice variety for your church members.
Don’t forget to also offer an optional fill-in-the-blank option for those who want to come up with their own donation amount. You never know, they may even give more than you suggested!
Takeaway: How much your church suggests is entirely up to you, but one of the most crucial elements to successful online church fundraising is to offer various high and low giving amounts.
For more church tips and tricks, check out our other resources below:
- Church Management Tips. From communication to finances and everything in between, these 45+ strategies can help you guide your church in an effective way.
- Church Fundraising Ideas. Offer more options than just the offering plate on Sundays. You’re fundraising strategy will soar with the angels with these 85+ innovative ideas.
- Church Newsletter Strategies. Newsletters can be an incredibly effective church communication tool. Read our advice for maximizing your newsletter potential!