Contributing, tithing, giving. Whatever you call it, freely donating to the church is vital to the ministry and growth of churches.

In fact, it’s so important Jesus stated we should be happy to give our share.

However, in today’s fast-paced, hectic world, tithing can sometimes not be as simple as it once was. Making it easier for congregants is vital in the 21st century to ensure you’re making budget and, in turn, expanding the scope of your ministry.

But it can be done.

scrabble givingA lot of churches have some form of online giving software already. So, the point isn’t just about using online giving. But rather maximizing all the benefits online giving can provide. However, what if there were systems that could be controlled as a database and allow users to seamlessly give online as well?

Churches and organizations miss huge opportunities when they manage two, three or even four or more different sets of data. Keeping online giving records and interaction data separate from your chosen church management software database, or ChMS, creates a missed opportunity and unnecessary work for your staff. Online giving and ChMS need to interact and integrate so you can more effectively manage your data.

In reality, there are problems when online giving and ChMS do not interact and properly sync.

Problems from not syncing include: double entry; missing information; duplicate information; human error; and wasted time from manual entry.

Conversely, the benefits of syncing are many. They include: easier reconciling; saved time; automated reporting; and improved record accuracy.

These things are imperative when choosing an online ChMS right for your congregation and it’s important to evaluate the options out there for your church.

In total, here at ACS Technologies, we’ve found there are four steps that will help you maximize your use of online giving. Keep in mind that the timing for the launch of online giving is a key element of maximizing your system. Since the majority of churches experience a summer slump in giving and attendance, have the system in place and in use before the summer season starts. Likewise, since most donors tend to contribute more at year-end, you might want to consider launching in the fall so that the users are comfortable with the system by the time the holiday season rolls around.

These four steps are as follows:

1.       Sign Up For a Merchant Account: The first step to getting started to using the online giving solution within a ChMS is to sign up for a merchant account.

2.       Choose the Right Settings for the Congregation: Once the merchant account has been created and approved, the next step is choosing the online giving settings that best benefit your ministry. The following options will be available when setting up online giving:

a.  The ability for members to use debit cards, credit cards or ACH (bank accounts) as their source of online giving

b. Allow comments on donations

c. Specific limits for one-time donations

d. The best time to activate online giving for the congregants

3.       Market Online Giving to your Congregation: Once the administrative aspects of online giving have been established, the next step is to show people that it is both easy to use and a completely secure connection.

4.       Be Proactive and Be Prepared: When implementing any new online giving solution, it is understandable for members to have some additional questions. Combat those inquiries by preparing an online FAQ. This can easily be posted within your ChMS.

Using online giving within your congregation is easier than you think, especially with a solid launch plan. It’s imperative to have a timeline which includes planning backward from six months prior to launch. Also, it is very important to have follow-up in the days, weeks and months after launch to ensure congregants are utilizing the tools available to them.

Online Giving, In Reality

A great example of a church fully utilizing the proper tools for online giving is The Bible Chapel in McMurray, Pennsylvania. They utilize ACS Technologies products and have an integrated online giving module in place.

We have had online giving implemented for several years at The Bible Chapel. I was an early adopter of using it and I love it. I use it to give weekly through scheduled giving. This removes the hassle of remembering the checkbook and writing a check,” said Cory Rush, congregational database administrator for The Bible Chapel. “Also, I like that I can easily indicate different funds where I would like the contribution allocated. With online giving, we never miss a week even if we are not there. On the occasion when I want to know where we stand on giving for the year, I can easily see all of giving (offline and online) without having to contact the finance folks.”

Let Us Help You Better Communicate

ACS Technologies can help you better streamline your opportunities with online giving. Whether you’ve already implemented a ChMS and need an online module, or are just getting started, we can help.

To learn more about online giving opportunities, including stories of how other churches have succeeded, download “Five Sundays: The Power of Online Giving” today.