Donations on your Church Website (Part 4): Tools and Services

This article finishes up a four part series about online donations. I hope that after reading parts one, two, and three you realize that it is not acceptable to just put a donate button and call it quits. There are many factors you need to consider, and here I will tie it all together along with some services that were mentioned by peers in a LinkedIn group.

First I asked that you consider what content will support your donation page(s). Think about how you will not only persuade your members to give, but show they why they need to and what their contributions will help enable.

Second we looked at the different types of donations and what initiates or motivates them. They can be one time gifts, or a recurring weekly tithe. They can be self-initiated, or called for by church leadership for a specific cause. You need to consider all of the options you wish to accept before you select a service provider.

Third, I talked about how to present your gift options. Should it be completely open, pre-determined donation sizes, or a blend of the two with suggestions. Depending on what type of donation it is, different models work better than others.

Finally, you need to select a service that will process your donations. During a discussion on LinkedIn, several services were recommended. Although PayPal enjoys the largest usage as it is a strategic partner with the auction site eBay, many of these services offer lower transaction fees, and/or cater exclusively to churches and non-profit organizations. Here they are in alphabetical order:

  • E-Giving: Catering specifically to churches and non-profits, they have no set-up costs, contracts or minimum number of members or transactions.
  • Givelify: A mobile application that currently is for churches only (a non-profit version is in development); with an easy interface, great fund tracking, and low transaction fees.
  • PayItSquare: Adds an additional layer of features on top of PayPal, with tools for events, fundraisers, and groups.
  • PayPal: The industry leader in 3rd party payment services, mostly in part to their strategic partnership with eBay.com
  • SimpleGive: Another service that caters to non-profits, they also feature no set-up costs or contracts; just a monthly fee for use of their software.
  • WePay: A 3rd party service that offers not only payment integration on your site, but the ability to host payment pages & store fronts on their own servers.

Note that these services and business models may change over time, so please obtain information from the vendor before deciding which one your church will utilize. Also, it is imperative that you consider all of my suggested points before settling on a provider. Lastly, before you contact a provider, plan ahead:

  • Have all contact information such as addresses and locations consistent across the board for your profiles on your website, social media, printed material, and your official tax documents
  • Create a job-specific Email address that is not tied to a specific person (i.e. Donations@ChurchName.com) so that you can easily hand over the login credentials if staff changes occur.
  • Have all of this information close at hand. You do not want to have to log in multiple times to input all of the information

Action Item

Do your homework from the first three articles, research some of the services listed above, pray for wisdom and guidance, and select a service provider that meets all or most of your needs. This new direction for your website will not only bring in additional financial resources for your church, but will show your website users that you are a forward thinking church that is going places.

Note: This article was inspired by a conversation on the Web Ministry group on LinkedIn.com. Thank you to all who contributed!

Update (December 3, 2012): Added basic information on each of the services thanks to a suggestion from Allan Buckingham.

Update (September 3, 2013): Added the mobile app Givelify after I was contacted by a member of their staff. It looked promising so I decided to update the article.

Photo courtesy of Juri Staikov

Author: Stephen Morrissey

I have been making websites since 1996, and using social media since 2006. My current profession is designing user experiences for corporate software, websites, and mobile applications. I started sharing my knowledge with the world in 2011, about a year after a revival in my faith.

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