Thursday, March 26

Online Church ... Now What?

church online donations
Your church has transitioned to being online. Maybe you drove people away in the first week with a shrill-sounding Facebook Live service. Maybe you don't even have a Facebook or (better) YouTube account for video. Maybe you'd prepared by delving into online technology and presented yourself in a professional manner. But the money problem still exists. Even if SOME of your church members have been paying online for several years, not everyone pays online. And those who do pay online might like another option. Let's take a look at some of your online church options for keeping the money coming in.

E-donation Sites
Websites exist that you sign up to use and take a monthly fee (generally) as well as a per-transaction fee in order to process money for your church. If you look for these in Google Search, you'll find them. Online giving does not seem to have taken off as much as most people thought it might, and that's more than likely because churches still pass the basket around, and it's not very showy for my family when we never put a donation in the basket. Sure, it's not supposed to be about us, and God knows we're giving money, but that Janelle lady always looks at you funny and then puts her check in the basket with lots of fanfare, so you know it matters. Covid-19 might give us a reset in churches. Maybe stop passing the basket when people come back if enough peopel sign up online. 

Paypal lets people donate for a percentage and a flat fee. $.50 and 2% or thereabouts. I think it might be better if you only have a few church members or are hoping for people from all around the country to donate, like for a mission. That said, it's easy enough to set up. 

When I was asked about online giving websites, I thought a little outside the box and checked out Zelle. While there are warnings to make sure you only use this with close friends, family, and others you can trust, there's also no fee, and some banks seem to allow recurring payments. The big issue here is that not every bank has Zelle, and it seems like a church would have to create some kind of business account. I would say that it's worth looking into, since you'd save the percentages, transaction fees, and monthly charges. Or an extra $20,000 on your church's yearly $1,000,000 donations. 

Gift Cards
Some churches have signed up with Amazon Smile for a little extra, but why not also ask for donations as gift cards? In all honesty, very few people donate enough to church for them to bother with itemizing their taxes because the standard deduction is so high, so take advantage of that with asking for non-monetary donations. Just be sure to specify that your church doesn't need an LL Bean gift card, favoring ones that might help with a current need, like Best Buy for some electronic equipment or Office Depot for office supplies. People can order gift cards online, so it's Covid-19-safe. 

Your Synod
I told someone affiliated with a church that he should go right to the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod in order to ask why the synod never made the system it uses for online donations (appears to be in-house) available to all churches in the synod. I might not be understanding something with taxes or timing of the funds, but the technology is probably available to all the major synods or affiliations. Or maybe a bank that has tie-ins with your church, like LCEF with LCMS. Or just a member who runs a website that accepts payments and is willing to work with your church. 

Write Content
The best way to drive people to your church website with the time you have right now is to write content. On the website, not on Facebook. And not controversial statements like how we need to get back to work. Just encouragement. Then record videos AHEAD OF TIME and add them to YouTube, embedding them on your website, as well. Of course, you'll also want to add the donation link. 

And if you need a church website so that your church doesn't lose even more members, then I'm your guy. Just contact me. And check out my website.

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