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

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 Rinke

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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.

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