How to Set Up Online Giving for Churches
With physical gatherings ceasing, there has been a decrease in giving for some churches. This might be an opportunity to explore online giving for your church.
The coronavirus lockdown has put a strain on organisations which rely on charitable giving for them to continue functioning – churches included.
Many members of local churches give generously for the work of the church, whether that be the upkeep of the building, the salary of employees, or the support of local and global mission. However, those who usually give when attending a church service are no longer able to now that churches are unable to meet physically, and so need to have an alternative option. Online giving is one possible option.
For a while now at TCM Baptist Church, we have provided the ability to give online through several options.
Giving by Card
We use Total Giving on our website if people wish to donate by credit or debit card. This is accessed by a button on the website which directs the user to our Total Giving page through which a secure payment can be made.
This is free for the church to set up and maintain although, as stated on our website, this does incur a percentage-charge per donation so the church does not receive the full amount donated - common with online giving services.
Upon receiving a donation in this way, an individual in the church who holds the account is notified of the donation details, which includes the amount, the name of the individual, gift aid information, and whether the donation is to be used for any specific fund. The donation (minus the charge) is then placed into the church bank account, and the finance team can record the donation.
Our preferred way that people give is by bank transfer, largely by standing order, which incurs no charge. I would estimate around 80% of our gifted income comes from this; the remainder being the Sunday offering during the service.
This is easy to set up for individuals and now most can do this using just their smartphone. We do not publish the churches bank details publicly for security reasons, but they can be requested from our administrator. Most members use this method with monthly transfers, although some give weekly amounts as would be typical in a Sunday service.
Benefits of Online Giving
Online giving ensures a secure and reliable amount is given to the church regularly and Gift Aid can be claimed on online donations from eligible and willing individuals easily.
When giving physically, Gift Aid can usually only be claimed when the donation is placed in an envelope accompanied with the name of the giver (excluding the use of the governments “Small Donations Scheme”). Online giving only requires the individual to give permission for Gift Aid to be claimed by whoever in the church handles the finances, and for the individual to keep an accurate record of donations.
The downside of online giving is that when you give online it is not anonymous - whoever in the church is responsible for the accounts will see the names of members set against the donations. For several reasons, people may wish their giving to be entirely anonymous and this becomes difficult when giving online.
Giving and Social Distancing
With overall giving down now that we can’t meet physically, we have encouraged online giving - if people are still able to give - through communications to members and at our members meetings. We’ve made the finance team and church administrator available to help people set this up and answer questions too.
Some who would normally give during a service have begun to give online, but it’s not clear whether this will be a permanent change.
All-in-all, online giving is a great option to provide, even outside of our current situation. Our members usually find it a much more convenient and reliable way to give – plus it removes the need to remember cash on Sunday mornings in our increasingly cash-less society!