I have visited many church websites, and read many church bulletins. There are many Catholic churches that do online giving very well. Other churches who do online giving could see a big jump in giving with a few quick tweaks. With that, here are the 4 don'ts of online giving.
...bury your online giving button.
If the button for me to donate is buried somewhere deep in your website, people won't know that it's there. For some churches, this may actually be a strategy saying something like, "if people can't find it, they won't use it, and we won't pay anything." It actually costs you money if you DON'T have online giving at your church. The rare exception, is if 100% of your parishioners attend Mass 52 weeks.
Make the button visible on the home page with a direct link to your giving page. A parishioner shouldn't have to dig for it, then search for your parish in a directory of churches. You should also have multiple places on your website that have a call to action for your online giving page.
...call it something different in print and on your website.
Whatever you'd like to call it, remain consistent. If it's online giving in print, make sure it's online giving on your website. Donate, give, donations, gifts, contribute, and give are all terms that can be used. Do not make it confusing by telling parishioners to go to the church's website to use our online giving program, then the button says something different.
...stop talking about online giving.
One of the biggest reasons for a church's success with online giving comes from not talking about it. You should tell people that it's available, convenient, and easy to do whenever you have the chance. Sending out a mailing, have a small blurb about online giving.
Make some goals with how many families you would like to have on it. 10% in year 1 and 20% by the end of year 2 are realistic targets. Focus on the family aspect, not the money. The money will come. Those families that are not the early adopters will also see that other people are using it, making them feel more comfortable with the donation.
Liturgical Publications has Engagement Managers that work with our church customers for a communication plan. 4-5 times throughout the year, there is a dedicated communication weekend for online giving.
...keep printing offering envelopes.
There is a cost of printing and shipping contribution envelopes. Many churches are printing and laminating cards for those people who feel uncomfortable not placing something in the collection basket. Those are placed in the back of church. WeShare online giving gives parishioners the ability to print their own donation slips and bring them along each week if they choose.
No matter who you are using as your online donation provider, these simple online giving tips should increase your giving and save you a few dollars to affect your bottom line.
Keith Alberts has been providing personal education to church staff for more than 4 years about the need for easy to use online tools they can simply manage themselves. This includes online giving, websites, social media, and a custom church app. Through LPi, he conducts Building a Vibrant Parish seminars to give best practices of parish communication for Catholic churches in a fun and open setting. You can connect with him on LinkedIn and Twitter.