Skip to main content
Online Giving

Online Giving: Why Haven’t Churches Made the Switch?

Online giving has been on a significant upswing in just the past five years, but churches are lagging behind. A recent Dunham + Company/Campbell Rinker survey shows that while 70 percent of nonprofit organizations offer opportunities to donate online, just 42 percent of churches give their parishioners that chance. That number is even lower for small churches (under 200 attendees), at only 29 percent.As an example of how online giving has grown for nonprofits, just under half (48 percent) of donors had given through a charity’s website in 2010. Today, 60 percent say they have given an online gift. That’s incredible growth that should catch the attention of any stewardship director, so what is it that churches aren’t seeing about the benefits of online giving?In my time working at a church as well as here at GiveCentral, I’ve heard more than a few arguments against making the switch to online giving. The thing is, it’s not a switch at all! Offering an online giving option to your parishioners lets them choose one more way they can give.Here are a few more commonly-heard arguments, and why I don’t think they hold water:

Argument 1:

We’ve always done things this way, it’s hard to make a change

The church is the cornerstone of the community, and it’s been a presence in our lives for as long as we can remember. But when was the last time your church made a change in the way they do things? We understand that there’s a lot of tradition in the church and you know what works best. However, as you notice your offertory on the decline or less participation in your ministries, perhaps it’s time to take a look at how your community is changing and adapt with them.

Argument 2:

Our older donors don’t understand computers, they don’t want to give online

Your older donors may not agree with your assessment of their abilities. Back in 2010, 29 percent of those 65 and older said they’d made a charitable donation online. Today, that number has grown to 59 percent, on par with younger donors. And boomers are a vibrant and generous demographic, and they’re not about to let new technology stand in the way of supporting the causes they love.

Argument 3:

We don’t have to be online, we see our donors every week

But do you want to be asking people for donations every week? Can your appeal compete with the socializing happening in the entryway, the family discussion in the parking lot, the rush to get to brunch, or the bustle to get a cranky child home? With online giving, donors can set up recurring gifts and pledges whenever they have a free moment, right from home. Those gifts can be scheduled and automatically deducted with ease, granting your parishioners (and your staff!) a few more minutes of precious free time.


Churches simply must respond to changes in their attendees’ preferences. People of all ages are becoming more and more comfortable in the online world, whether for socializing, shopping, reading, and more. Why not meet your donors where they’re already spending their time? See how GiveCentral can help.

Great things are happening at St. John Berchmans

Great Things are Happening! A Case Study

Since his first day as pastor of St. John Berchmans Parish in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood, Fr. Wayne Watts’ motto has been: Great things are happening at St. John Berchmans!

From the beginning, Fr. Watts has focused on communication and community to celebrate a shared faith life. He is what I call “respectfully relentless” in his use of personal visits, phone calls, email and even Twitter to regularly engage with parish members in a very meaningful way.

In addition to regular bulletin articles, the church sends monthly emails to their faith community, and Fr. Watts personally sends regular messages on social media letting the community know about how the people of their parish are working together to help each other.The impact has been amazing. Today, both the parish and school are thriving.

Mass attendance and school enrolment continue to increase. And Fr. Watts’ communication has had a significant effect on giving: In 2010, the first year the church began using the GiveCentral online communication and giving platform, they were receiving an average of $5,000 per month in online donations. Today, the church processes an average of $22,000 online each month, an increase of 440%.Case study: giving growth, year over year, at St. John BerchmansFr. Watts and his church understand that parishioners want to have an ongoing dialog, and that they are more fulfilled when they see leaders like Fr. Watts initiating and maintaining those communications.

And more engaged members are almost always more loyal donors. In fact, Joe D’Arco, the parish’s Director of Operations, has found that community members and school families now give more year-round, preventing the normal dips in giving caused by summer vacations, school breaks, and homebound parishioners who can’t always drop an envelope in the basket each Sunday.

It began with reaching out to build community and monthly email communication. “Great things are happening at St. John Berchmans.” Fr. Watts and his team have done an amazing job that can help us see the possibility for all our parishes and schools.

Download a summary case study of this great success story here.