I know this seems strange for the director of a digital giving platform to write on the inefficiencies of digital giving, but I think it is really important to understand a few critical components before you launch into a potential solution. Let’s begin by naming the question before presupposing the answer.
What is the real reason a church is looking to launch a digital giving platform? Is it because they heard that a digital giving presence will automatically increase giving by 10%? Surely it can’t be that simple. Is the basic drive to increase church revenue? Is the desire to be more modern in its approach? I think it is really important to name the question accurately first, before you choose an answer.
I would suggest the real desire behind the question is that church leaders are dreaming of a day when financial resources will not be a challenge, but a surplus. What we really want is not digital giving, but the result of overflow. If that is the real dream then how does creating a credit card form translate into the solution? If increasing generosity was as easy as preaching a sermon on tithing and everyone started tithing, wouldn’t every church being doing it? If the solution was to create the best fundraising campaign of all time, wouldn’t every church be doing it? If launching online giving was the solution, wouldn’t that book have already been written? We all know church leaders are still striving towards the answer of a resource overflow.
Now, I am a digital giver and have been for many years. I am passionate about the power of digital giving. However, I also know that it is a very limiting tool which is often misunderstood.
Let me expose some challenges when a church launches a digital giving platform.
- Over-expectation on the result of making a basic credit card form available to your people. I am not sure a credit card form has ever inspired or discipled a person. Then, when the person must click a button which actually takes them off the church website onto the landing page of an unknown financial institution the experience becomes coldly transactional. Transformation is long gone causing many people to close down the page without making a gift.
- The technology itself is old or cumbersome to use. Not every digital giving platform is the same. Many are dated. Most are transactional focused. Transformation and inspiration rate very low. The page has an unfriendly feel with fonts, colors, text, and a look the church can not control. Church leaders know how to lead their people, but now you are at the mercy of the limitations of your partner organization.
- Leadership often does not use the platform itself. When staff as a whole still give the “old-fashioned” way, believing the digital giving platform is for a small group of people, the result will be small in proportion to the leadership provided. What is valued by the leader is valued by the people. The platform is less powerful than the leadership being provided.
- The platform itself limits giving opportunities. I know this sounds strange, but kiosk giving is a dated experience and online giving is quickly becoming the same. Text and app giving are becoming far more common, needing easy enjoyable experiences. Every mobile device needs to be transformed into an offering plate by a few simple clicks with no pinching or stretching of the screen. Just think how often we use an app or text in our daily personal lives versus sitting at our desktop. Generosity must be extremely mobile friendly, not just kind of mobile, but not really.
- The platform limits the giving options. People regularly donate items of value to nonprofit organizations. The church is typically not set up to receive such gifts. The giving experience is often hard on both the giver and the church. Many people can have more value in their assets than in cash. The most modern digital giving platform needs to easily unleash noncash gifts. At Generosity by LifeWay a car, stock, real estate, business interest, and more can be given within our app. We will receive the item, liquidate it, and pass on the cash to your church.
- The digital giving platform is not capable of viral use. Today, people are setting up their own giving opportunities to support friends and causes they are passionate about. They engage a platform like Facebook or Go Fund Me to unleash giving within their social circles. Then these social networks take giving viral. The church is left watching their people make a difference without them, instead of fueling their passion to impact others generously. The Generosity by LifeWay platform actually has features that enable church leaders to set up cause oriented pages which your people can take to their social networks to unleash viral generosity. The potential is unlimited.
So if the underlying desire is to experience a resource overflow toward your vision and online giving is not the solution in and of itself, what does a leader do? Here are some steps.
- Name the desire to see a resource overflow and commit yourself to the right solution. Involve your team because it is going to take everyone to make this happen. Online giving is not enough. A resource overflow is possible. It will involve vision, planning, strategy, and discipleship.
- Gather your tools. These include church models, trends, and best practices that you can learn from. You will need to know where the most helpful resources are related to preaching, teaching, and leading. Then you will want some tools to help train your staff.
- Look for a trusted partner who loves the church, has the resources, and will stick with you for the long haul. Pastors are extremely busy people. You really do not have the time or expertise to lead all ministry areas on your own. Finding those who can help you quickly and easily with the best answer is critical.
Generosity by LifeWay is on a mission to raise up 500 generosity leaders in the local church over the next five years. We have gathered the experts, tools, and resources that you need in one easy location. Our digital giving platform is second to none. It is powerfully mobile like every other app your people use. The giving page is driven to be transformational not transactional. You can include videos, testimonies, and content specific to your church. People can give items of cash and noncash. Then, they never leave your website. Your givers stay in the safe and comfortable surrounding you have provided for them. If you need training tools, small group studies, or sermon outlines we have you covered. Finally, for no additional cost we have provided all the wisdom and expertise of a full time Generosity Pastor, delivered through virtual training experiences. We will cover everything from learning to lead with what you believe as opposed to what you need to creating a budget that returns on the investment to events that minister powerfully to key givers.
We believe in you and are dreaming of a generosity surplus for your church. You can check out all the resources available to you at www.lifeway.com/generosity.