New technology has revolutionized churches. From the way congregants relate to one another, to the processes involved in hosting a church service, and even to the manner in which we read the Bible, almost every aspect of our lives have been impacted by the digital age. Why should church giving be any different?
You’ve likely heard of text-to-give fundraising— a popular technologically-driven method for gathering donations with just a few taps on a smartphone. Nonprofits and other charitable organizations have seen huge successes with this fundraising strategy. And here’s the best part: so can churches!
Tithing is an important practice in most Christian churches, and yet according to a 2018 study, only about 5% of churchgoers actually tithe. While the reasoning behind this statistic surely varies, one can assume that a significant factor is the inconvenience— whether that’s writing a check or remembering to carry cash every Sunday.
That’s where text-to-tithe comes in! By providing a simple, fast, and convenient way to give, requiring nothing but a cell phone and a credit card, churches that implement this unique strategy begin to see substantial increases in revenue.
That’s why we’ve put together this comprehensive guide to fully explore new giving opportunities and note any room for future growth. We’ll walk you through the following topics:
Feel free to skip around to the sections that interest you most, or read along from the top to really strengthen your understanding of church giving solutions and, specifically, the text-to-tithe process. Let’s get started.
Online Giving for Churches: FAQ
Before we jump into all the detail about the text-to-tithe process, let’s answer any questions you might have about more general online giving practices for churches like yours. Whether you’re a sizable congregation that’s fairly in-the-know about church technology or a quaint neighborhood church that tends to do things the “old-school” way, we think this guide can help.
What are the main types of church giving?
Generally speaking, church giving encompasses any contributions one might make to a local church— whether that’s putting a few dollars in the offering plate as it’s passed around on Sunday morning or sponsoring a student planning to attend an international mission trip.
However, most church giving tends to fall into one of the following categories:
- Tithing: Tithing literally means “a tenth.” That is, tithing is the practice of giving 1/10 of your income to the church. Although there is some ambiguity surrounding the specifics, (such as, “Am I supposed to tithe according to my gross or net income?”) most agree that to be considered a tithe, it must be 10% or more.
- Offering: While tithing tends to come with certain strings attached, offerings are much more open and inclusive. An offering is seen as a “bonus gift,” often going above and beyond the required 10% for a tithe. However, churchgoers who choose not to tithe may opt to participate in church offerings instead.
As far as text-to-tithe goes, (despite the name!) churchgoers can use such mobile giving tools to contribute in any way they feel called— whether that be a tithe or an offering.
What is the purpose of tithing?
Tithing has been a long-kept religious practice, going back as early as 1400 B.C. While this was originally a Jewish tradition, tithing has carried over into the Christian faith as a way to give back to both God and the church. As a church leader, you likely already have a solid understanding of tithing practices.
However, here are a few verses that can boost your knowledge and provide a framework you can share with your congregation as well:
- Genesis 28:20–22: Then Jacob made a promise. He said, “If God will be with me and take care of me as I go, and if He will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return in peace to my father’s house, then the Lord will be my God. I have set up this stone as a pillar to be God’s house. And I will give You a tenth part of all You give to me.”
- Proverbs 3:9–10: Honor the Lord with your riches, and with the first of all you grow. Then your store-houses will be filled with many good things and your barrels will flow over with new wine.
- 2 Corinthians 9:6-8: Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
The bottom line that’s consistently present between these verses is that giving should be done with a generous heart and a grateful spirit. While originally a requirement of Jewish law, many churchgoers believe that tithing instead should be an act of good faith and free will. As a display of trust and honor, congregants contribute a portion of their incomes to support the mission of the church.
How do churches use tithes?
One very common question among churchgoers is “What exactly do churches do with the money we tithe?” If your congregation is unsure of where their hard-earned money is going, or they believe it’s not being used responsibly, they’re not likely to keep contributing. That’s why ensuring transparency between the leadership team and their congregation is crucial for maximizing church giving.
Although the specifics will vary from one location to the next, much of a church’s budget is spent in one of these three categories:
- Salaries: A large percentage of collected tithes tends to go towards paying the salaries of church employees. Depending on the size and organization of the church itself, this can include the pastor(s), worship leader(s), administrative staff, janitorial team, and more.
- Operations: Operating expenses such as mortgage/rent and other facility fees, as well as basic utilities like air, water, and electricity are important for keeping the church running— and the congregation happy!
- Outreach: A final portion of tithing proceeds may go to support any additional community outreach programs in place, although some churches may collect a separate offering for those funds. This may include projects like a youth program, food pantry or soup kitchen, or community service.
One practical way to ensure financial transparency and accountability is by making your church budget available to the public— or at least your church members. This way, congregants can see that their contributions are being put to good use and continue to give in new and exciting ways!
What is digital tithing and why does it matter?
Digital tithing is a relatively new church giving strategy that utilizes technology to collect weekly tithes. It’s a catch-all term that can include methods such as text-to-tithe, online donation forms, and even on-site giving kiosks.
Now the big question is why does digital tithing matter? Well, here are just a few key reasons to consider:
- COVID-19 has led to digital operations. We know that COVID-19 has disrupted almost every aspect of our lives, including the sudden move to digitizing everything. Maybe your church meetings have been disbanded since March, or perhaps you’re just beginning to reintegrate in-person services. Either way, digital tithing offers a hands-free, remote opportunity to support the mission of the church during a difficult time.
- Live-streamed church services are on the rise. Even before the coronavirus outbreak, churches all over were transitioning to digital services. Thanks to easy-to-use virtual church software and high-quality live-streaming tools, online services have become a popular replacement (or supplement) for traditional in-person services. And in order for viewers to contribute financially from their off-site locations, digital giving tools are a must.
- Extra giving options allow everyone to give. Even for individuals attending your in-person church services, providing more options is never a bad idea. Imagine how many people simply pass on the offering plate because they forgot to stop at the ATM on the way to church! With digital tithing, they can either give right from their seat with a mobile device or make a gift from home later in the week.
Digital tithing provides all-around increased flexibility for everyone involved. Even if you’ve only introduced digital tithing options, such as text-to-tithe, as a response to the global pandemic, it’s still a useful resource that will continue to bring value to your church for years to come.
What is the best way to collect tithes?
Now you might be asking yourself, “Between digital and traditional tithing, which is the best?” To answer this question, let’s look at a few different methods that can be used for church giving.
- Collection baskets: This is the most basic form of tithing collection that has been present in churches for hundreds of years. Typically, a basket or plate (or several for large churches) is passed through the rows mid-service from individual to individual— each having a chance to give via cash or check before handing it off to the next person.
- Giving kiosks: Giving kiosks are physical stations set up in churches that offer a central location for digital giving. Although elaborate machines can be set up in your church lobby, all you really need is an anchored tablet with internet access! This type of giving tends to occur before or after a church service, rather than during the “offering invitation,” which can lead to a loss of giving momentum.
- Online giving forms: Online giving forms are popular with nonprofits and churches alike thanks to the ease with which supporters can give. Your donation forms should be easy to navigate to from your church website and quick to complete— only requiring minimal necessary information. The simpler the process, the more likely people will give!
- Text-to-tithe: Take this simplified process one step further with text-to-tithe. Congregants can text your specified mobile tithing phone number with a predetermined keyword and receive a link to an online giving page in seconds. Once they fill out their payment information once, future tithes can be sent in just two clicks, making it more convenient than ever.
In most cases, the answer to “what is the best way to collect tithes,” is going to be a combination of many tactics. Introduce online giving for churches and promote your text-to-tithe number, but don’t remove the option for physical, in-person donations. That way, everyone can give in the way that’s most comfortable for them. And after all, the money all ends up in the same fund!
Top 10 Text-to-Tithe Tips
If you’ve decided to implement text-to-tithe in your church’s overall giving strategy, you might be wondering what is the best way to go about it. Here are some tips you can follow to bring about maximum results in the simplest way possible.
1. Promote text-to-tithe in multiple ways (especially at first).
Be sure to promote text-to-tithe across as many marketing outlets as possible, including your social media pages, website, church newsletters, service bulletins, and any other forms of church-wide communications. That means getting the word out about your unique text-to-tithe phone number and the keywords you choose.
Plus, be sure to explain in-service (during the call to offering) the benefits and process involved in mobile tithing for the first several weeks of implementation. Then, continue to feature your text-to-tithe information on the screen during giving times going forward.
2. Clearly explain the giving process for new users.
It’s important to explain the text-to-tithe process in great detail across all marketing avenues and in-person situations. Especially for older and less tech-savvy congregations, users might be nervous to try out a new giving method.
Walking through the process step-by-step can help reduce some of those concerns, although you’ll want to emphasize that other giving methods will continue to be available as well. Plus, visual aids like this one help explain the process in an easy-to-understand manner.
3. Clarify that it is appropriate to use your phone in-service.
Another potential issue to address with your congregation is the fact that it is appropriate for churchgoers to use their cell phones amid the church service for this purpose. Again, especially for congregations that tend to skew older, pulling out a mobile device can be seen as a big taboo.
However, thanks to constantly evolving technology, this has become a non-issue in more contemporary church gatherings. For many users, they might take out their smartphone for mobile giving and keep it out as a Bible to read along with the service!
4. Communicate how tithes are being used.
This is more of a general tithing tip than one specific to text-to-tithe practices, but it’s an important note nonetheless. As previously mentioned, churchgoers are not likely to financially support a church they believe to be engaging in shady business practices.
On the other hand, communicating above and beyond your financial practices goes to show your congregation that you prioritize transparency and openness. When people know that their tithes are being used in valuable ways, they’ll feel more invested in the mission and inclined to continue giving— as opposed to the idea that tithing dollars go into some mystery fund that no one ever sees!
5. Choose easy and memorable keywords.
When it comes to setting up text-to-tithe, choosing keywords is arguably one of the most important parts. After all, you want it to be something easy to type, as it’s what your guests will have to input in their own devices to make a donation.
Long strings of letters and numbers are not only difficult to remember, but they’re more likely to result in misspelled words and misplaced funds. On the other hand, words like “DONATE,” “TITHE,” or “GIVE,” are both easy to remember and type.
6. Create separate campaigns for separate funds.
Speaking of keywords, did you know you can set up multiple keywords to segment giving by purpose? For example, donations with the word “TITHE” could go toward a general church giving fund— covering things like staff salaries and operating expenses.
A different keyword— “MISSION,” for example— could direct gifts toward a specified collection funding international missions, local outreach, or short-term mission trips. This feature is great for churchgoers who want to choose exactly where their money is going!
7. Encourage churchgoers to set up recurring gifts.
Recurring gifts are one of the most powerful fundraising tools for any nonprofit organization— churches included. Relying on week-to-week tithes and offerings to fund church operations can be dangerous, as giving patterns often see huge levels of fluctuation— especially during difficult economic circumstances.
However, churches are likely to collect significantly more recurring donations since tithing tends to occur on a regular basis with one’s pay schedule. This is not only convenient for your church budget, but also for your churchgoers who don’t have to worry about manually tithing week after week.
8. Explore gamification methods for goal-based campaigns.
If your fundraising campaign has a specific goal, (such as a renovation project or a mission trip) it’s a great idea to incorporate gamification elements to further engage your congregation.
For example, you can embed a digital fundraising thermometer in your online donation page so supporters can watch in real-time as you approach your goal. They’ll be all the more likely to contribute themselves when they see how close you are to funding your mission.
9. Be sure to thank congregants for their gifts.
It’s hard to personally thank churchgoers for their tithing contributions when they put their money directly in the offering plate. After all, how can you know who gave what? And while the purpose of tithing is not for human recognition, it is always nice to feel appreciated.
That’s why it’s a good idea to personally thank your churchgoers who give via text-to-tithe. Consider sending handwritten or emailed thank-you letters to show your appreciation, especially as your church first implements text-to-tithe practices!
10. Integrate your text-to-tithe tool with your CRM.
A CRM is a powerful tool for any church or nonprofit. It helps you manage your supporters by tracking giving histories, engagement levels, and donor profiles. For best results, it’s important that your CRM is integrated with all of your other giving and church management tools. This way, data can seamlessly transfer from one program to another without the risk of errors and typos.
When you integrate your text-to-tithe tool with your church CRM, your giving data can flow easily into your central management system for safekeeping. Plus, it can help with things like writing personalized donor thank-you letters, providing year-end tax receipts, and more.
By following these simple steps, your church can get started with a successful mobile tithing program in no time. And when you adopt the top software providers to do so, it’s a win-win situation for everyone involved.
Choosing the Best Text-to-Tithe Software
When it comes to making any big decisions concerning church software, it’s important to take a careful look at your options. Consider what you’re looking for, what different providers can offer, and compare the two to find the best value for your church.
Text-to-tithe features to look for
Let’s walk through some of the most important features to look for in any text-to-tithe software considerations.
- Security: Be sure any church giving software you adopt is at least PCI-compliant (although PCI-certified is even better!). This way, churchgoers can give without worrying about falling victim to fraud through an insecure donation platform.
- User-friendliness: Especially for churches with populations who might not be so technologically adept, user-friendliness is key to ensuring churchgoers can actually use the new giving platforms.
- Low fees: Although there are certainly free online giving tools available, they tend to be more restrictive in terms of how they can be used. On the other hand, platforms with outrageously high prices can cost more than they’re worth. It’s a good idea to find something in the middle that works best for your budget!
- Streamlined processes: If the text-to-tithe process takes too long, you risk churchgoers giving up before ever submitting their gift— especially amid a church service, where users don’t want to miss anything important being said! The quicker you can make a donation, the more likely gifts are to go through.
- Recurring gift functionality: As previously mentioned, recurring gifts provide churches with steady income and donors with a more convenient giving practice. Make sure your text-to-tithe provider offers recurring gifts in order to boost revenue.
Then, it’s a good idea to rank features based on what’s most important to you. Depending on your church budget, you might be able to opt for a pricier provider that offers more of the features you’re looking for. On the other hand, you might have tighter financial restraints and should choose the one that fits best in your price range.
Top text-to-tithe provider
While there are several text-to-tithe providers for churches like yours to choose from, Snowball Fundraising is going to be the top pick. As an all-in-one fundraising solution, you can get your mobile tithing, online donation pages, CRM dashboard, and event ticketing tools all in a convenient, centralized platform!
Snowball is known for the ease with which donors can give to the causes they care about— including your church. After all, an unnecessarily complex giving process is unlikely to increase church tithing levels to a significant extent. On the other hand, a streamlined process (such as the one offered by Snowball) can result in substantial increases in revenue.
Unlock the Premium Plan for only $549 a year and receive access to unlimited text-to-tithe campaigns, fundraising thermometers, online donation pages, and more! This investment into your church giving strategy is the key to modernizing your tithing practices and will lead to a high ROI— meaning, over time, it essentially pays for itself.
Getting started with text-to-tithe
So you’ve decided that text-to-tithe is a must for your church, but you’re not sure how to get started. Just follow these simple steps!
- Choosing a provider: After researching top text-to-give tools, you have to make your selection. Then, simply register with whichever software provider you chose.
- Getting a phone number: The software provider should then assign you a unique phone number specifically for text-to-tithe purposes. This is the number that church members will text to make their contribution!
- Setting keywords: Now it’s time to set your keywords. You might choose the name of your church (FIRSTBAPTIST), a word relating to giving (TITHE or DONATE), or the title of a specific campaign (MISSIONS2020).
- Promoting your text-to-tithe: Finally, it’s time to get the word out about your new giving option! Not only should you let users know that text-to-tithe is an option for your church, you need to share your assigned phone number and choice of keywords. Then, churchgoers have everything they need to make their gifts.
Once you’ve completed these steps and begun marketing text-to-tithe to your church audience, you’ll start to receive funds in no time.
Leading a church can be hard work, and ensuring sustainable funding is only one piece of the puzzle. In tough times, just remember why you do what you do— to share the Good News and further the mission of the Church.
For more information on mobile church giving and other powerful church tools, take a look at the resources below:
- 85+ Awesome Church Fundraising Ideas For Your Congregation. Pairing text-to-tithe with unique fundraising ideas is a great way to earn more money for your church. Here are some of our favorites!
- 15+ Best Church Software Solutions for Virtual Success. A big part of establishing effective church practices is dependent on the church software at your disposal. Check out Double the Donation’s list of top providers.
- Church Management Tips: 20+ Ways To Grow Your Ministry. Are you looking to expand your church and reach new people? Growing a ministry can be difficult, but we’ve put together some suggestions to help.
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