Online Giving Tip Sheet

The tip sheet provides practical ideas on implementing online giving options for a congregation.

Online Giving Considerations 

If your congregation already provides a way to make online gifts, promote it in everything you send out. Remember: just as you have two people count the Sunday offering plate, two leaders should have login credentials for the online giving vendor. Additionally, consider ways to make online giving more personal. Each vendor will automatically generate a tax receipt for the donor. Consider editing that message to make it more specific to your congregation. Ideally, include a link in that email to take donors to a video in which the pastor or lay leader offers a 30-second thank you message.

If you need to set up online giving, here are some tips and suggestions: 

  • The best online giving option is the one that integrates into your church database. Check to see if your software provider recommends a specific vendor. For example, my former congregation used a database called REALM that partnered with a company called Vanco for online giving. This made it possible to add online giving in just a few minutes. 
  • If you are picking an online giving vendor, know that many good options exist. Each vendor offers a slightly different bundle of features at various price points (see chart below). Vendors charge two kinds of fees: a monthly flat rate and an additional charge per transaction. The volume of your transactions will make a difference in which vendor is best for you. For example, Rebel Give charges a high upfront monthly fee but no transaction fees. If you raise more than $1500 a month from 100 donors, this may be an excellent option for you. However, if you receive $500 a month from 5 donors, then it might be best to go with Paypal, Vanco, or Tithely. 
  • Also, be sure to look at the interface each vendor provides for the person completing the online donation form. Some forms can be hard to read or to navigate. For many people, Paypal may offer the most familiar format. Rebel Give may offer the highest quality experience. Every provider will offer some options for customizing the form to your congregation. 
  • Budget between 15 minutes to an hour to set up your online giving options. You will want to have on hand the Employer Identification Number (EIN) for your church as well as the bank routing number and account number for the congregation.

Related to online giving opportunities, you may want to look at ways to leverage the Facebook page of your congregation. This can work for both Sunday morning offerings and special events such as a concert or a mission trip fundraiser canceled because of the pandemic. Here’s an example of how one UCC congregation invited gifts for its Sunday morning offering via Facebook:

Here is a chart of some online giving vendors and their fees (as of 3/31/2020):