5 Things to Consider Before Choosing an Online Giving Provider

As each year goes by, I guess less apologetic about saying that your church really needs to start offering online giving. Without more giving options, your church is missing out on resources for ministry, and people are missing out on the blessings that come through offering gifts to God.

If I haven’t convinced you, check out this great article from Church Marketing Sucks:

6 Giving Stats to Help Boost Your Church’s Offering

When you are ready, you will need a service to enable giving on your church’s website, via an app, or via text message. As you are choosing a provider, keep in mind these 5 Things to Consider Before Choosing an Online Giving Provider.

1. Set-up Costs

Many, if not most online giving providers advertise no set-up fees. That sounds like a good deal, especially for churches who still are on the fence about online giving. However, it is still worth looking at providers that charge set-up fees. Many times there is some benefit to that cost such as lower transaction fees, or enhanced customer service when getting started.

2. Monthly Costs (including minimums)

Again, $0/month sounds like a good deal and often it is. But it is worth a closer look. There are often advantages to monthly fees such as lower transaction fees and/or more features. Some services wave monthly fees but only if you meet a monthly minimum.

If your church is interested in text-to-give, you will also need to pay attention to that monthly cost. Some services offer it free, and others charge from around $5 to $20 per month.

3. Transaction Costs

Long term, especially as the number and value of transaction increases, low transaction costs are where the most money can be saved. There are usually two parts to the transaction cost, the credit card rate and the transaction fee. The credit card rates vary from around 2% to 3% of the total gift and they are often lower for ACH/eCheck transactions. Transaction fees are charged per transaction no matter the amount. These are usually in the range of $.30-$.45.

4. Giving Options (Recurring, Text to Give, ACH, etc.)

Before you lock into a platform, be sure they have all the options you need and understand if there are additional costs for those options.

Recurring Giving
One of the most important may be recurring giving. Many people would like to set up their giving so that it happens automatically weekly or monthly. All of the services listed below (except PayPal) offer this feature.

Online giving is great. Text-to-give can be even greater. The church I attend offers text-to-give. The first time I gave, I had to enter my credit card information. Now, I just send a text message with the amount I want to give, I get a confirmation, and I am done.

ACH / eCheck
ACH / eCheck allows people to give electronically using a bank account instead of a credit card. Most providers offer lower fees for these transactions.

Kiosks allow people to give electronically from a device in your lobby, office, or other on-site location. Personally, I wonder about the future of these. With such a great percentage of people who carry a mobile device and more with computers at home, these may eventually be obsolete. However, if this is an important feature for your church, make sure your provider can make it happen.

5. Features and Support

As you consider a provider for your church’s online giving, spend some time looking at the “extras” that come with the service. It is important to get the services you need. However, it is also important not to be paying extra for things you don’t. It is also important to consider the level of customer service you will require. Some of the services are DIY (though they try to make the process easy.) Others might offer a dedicated account executive who will walk with you through the whole process.

Here are some of the extras that are available from different providers:

Pledge Module – Helps you track your estimated giving.

ChMS Integration – If your church runs Church Management Software to track things like membership, attendance, and giving, some platforms can directly integrate into the software making tracking and statements simple.

Promotional materials – It takes some effort to get people on board with online giving. Some providers offer graphics, videos, handouts and other pieces to help get the word out and show people how the system works.

Giving apps – Some giving platforms offer a free giving app to make it easier for people to give from their smartphones.

This is a lot to consider, and it can feel overwhelming. Hopefully, a little explanation will make it easier to find the right fit and make online giving a reality at your church.

Stay tuned. Soon I will be posting my updated comparison of all the major providers.

In the meantime, if you find this useful, maybe someone else will too! Share it on social media or forward it along to a decision maker in your church.

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