Considering a Giving App for Your Church? Think About These Things.By Eric Bryant,
Churches and ministries, like all nonprofit organizations, are typically always in need of additional funding. As a result, there has been a burgeoning of church giving apps, fundraising platforms, and text-to-donate services specifically designed to help religious organizations raise more money.
There are already good articles written that compare and contrast the options out there. But in this article, we’re going to take a different approach.
We’re going to summarize what the various online church giving apps have in common, and then we’re going to raise some issues that you as a church development manager, officer or pastor need to consider before choosing one of these services.
The mobile giving apps that top almost all lists of church fundraising tools are:
These three companies enable you to build a mobile app for your church without requiring much technical expertise.
They all pretty much work the same. After you build your app on the platform, your congregants must
Download the platform’s app (e.g., the tithe.ly or Easy Tithe app)
Find your church’s specific listing inside the platform
Add their payment information
Complete the donation form
Giving With Just a Few Clicks
Seems easy enough, right? The benefits of these types of church giving apps are that, once the member has entered her payment info, the app allows her to store her payment info for future tithes and offerings. Next time she wants to give, the donor can just open the app, tap a few buttons, and then give again and again to your charity.
How Text-to-Give Differs from Church Giving Apps
By contrast, with a text-to-give service like ours, there’s nothing to download. All members have to do is send a keyword to a shortened phone number. Our platform takes care of the rest.
When the donor sends the initial text, our application automatically sends him back a link to your church’s mobile payment wallet. You may use any digital wallet you like - most of our customers use PayPal.
The benefit here is that most of your congregants are already going to have the PayPal app downloaded on their phone. So, there’s nothing extra for them to download. And most already know how to use PayPal, as it is the most widely used mobile wallet in the world.
But even for those members who do not have a PayPal app on their phone, they can still pay their tithes and offerings to you using PayPal. Our service will in that case just open up your church’s PayPal page in their default mobile browser (e.g., Chrome, Safari). Still, no download required.
But here’s an important question: The point is not just to have a fancy-looking app. The point is twofold:
Encourage new members who don’t tithe to do so
Remind members who do tithe to do so (and more often)
What if you could accomplish #2 without having to give an actual offering call during the service? What if you didn’t even have to have a “tithes and offerings” time at your church?
That’s why church apps like Tithe.ly generally offer what’s known as “Push Notifications”. These are the little windows that slide down from the top of your phone screen with a little message prompting you to do something.
This is a great feature, as it allows you to send a one-to-one communication to your parishioners any time you want thereby reducing the reliance on passing the offering plate.
Text to Give and Text Blasts
You can also do this with text to donate, however. With our service, every member who texts to donate gets added to your subscriber list.
You can then send them future reminders. For example, you could remind them to tithe every Sunday by sending them a text message.
We can schedule your shortened phone number (a.k.a., short code) to automatically send out texts asking for tithes and offerings.
This accomplishes the same thing as an app Push Notification (in fact, it is a form of push notification). But again, it doesn’t require your church members to have an app installed on their phones.
Motivate Slackers to Tithe Without Having to Bug Them As Much!
What if you could motivate freeloaders to tithe by publicizing a simple call to action like “Text LIFECHURCH to 77948”? Or easier still: show a QR code to your congregation and let them scan in their donation? Or put the message on an overhead projector and just leave it up in during the service.
In others words, what if you could have your fundraising service working for you, in the background, 24/7?
A text to donate service, makes publicizing these kinds of prompts easier, we think. For example, you can easily put messaging on your church website to the effect of: “Text VICTORYCHURCH to 7748 any time to give your tithes and offerings.”
Put it in the service bulletin, on flyers around your church, on the offering envelopes, on the bulletin boards. In this way, you remind members to give more often without actually having to be in their face and ask.
I don’t know, this just seems easier than, “Click on this link and download this app.” What do you think?
Conclusion: People Like Options
There are clearly pros and cons to both options; we’re not saying text-to-give is better or worse than a church giving app. However, from a practical standpoint, it seems easier to get a member to send a text than to download and install an app.
There are obviously other things to consider when using either option. You’ll need to assess how tech-savvy your members are, your financial resources to build and maintain a mobile app, and whether your staff has the technical chops to make it all run smoothly.
Also, keep in mind that apps crash. Apps need updating and maintenance. And generally speaking, there is a steeper technical curve to get up and running with an app than with a native SMS application like text-to-give:
Texting has less chance of human error, is easier to adopt (since everyone already knows how to do it), and has a lower rate of technical failure.
However, people like options. It’s not an either/or. Our recommendation would be: the more options you have for people to give, the greater likelihood you’ll get more tithes and offerings. So why not use both?
You could combine your text-to-give with your church app. For example, say you were using Tithe.ly. Say your church was called Life Church. You could get a keyword like “LIFECHURCH” and get our short code, 77948.
When a member texts LIFECHURCH to 77948, we would send them back a message to donate. That message would include a link to your Tithe.ly URL. Best of both worlds!
Some members won’t want to download an app; offer them text to give. Others won’t want to give by texting. Offer them an app. Use both to help you bring in more money.