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Accommodate Your Members with Electronic Giving
By: George Eusterman

We are all learning to connect with each other and organizations in web-based ways more than ever. Giving is also a function of electronic relationship. Giving follows prompting of the Holy Spirit, which may occur after web-based ministry to the recipient or testimony of God's projects and appeals to help the needs in His Kingdom. The Internet is actually more effective than mail in helping create that "two or more are gathered in His name" experience. 
 
Would anyone want to give online to your church? Why would they be engaged with your website or social media? You have to bring them some reason, something of value.  Ministry, needs, testimony, and updating are valid and effective components to communications, Web or otherwise. There is nothing "magic" about online giving. It is a byproduct of an effective and regular online relationship.
 
How do they end up on your website or social media page? Because you make sure your web media and sites are spiritually rich and valuable to their needs. Your website and web communication is the "re-created church." Your social media teaches, ministers and encourages. It is social, so you have to be social! If you cannot or are not able to operate in the web universe, find someone on your team who can take the lead. 

A giving page on the web needs certain elements for giver comfort. You want to get out of the way of the giver. You want to keep everything in the spirit and not invoke the flesh. 

Create warmth with the colors and art of the ministry site. The picture, signature, and statement of blessing and direction of leadership overcome any doubt of where these funds are going and lend authenticity (integrity) to the page. That page should be in one browser window and as fast as possible. Do not require any giver to open an account before giving or access their account before giving (they may have forgotten their account number). 
 
Churches now use Facebook and other social connections because so much of the family of God "lives" within these connection tools. At times, it makes sense to load your giving page for a particular project behind a giving button for those who are already on "the inside" of a ministry. If the social media is used for outreach and introducing new potential partners/members to the work, you should link to your website (not giving page) from that media. The website should be the "cyber home" of the ministry and always geared to the new relationship. This means the very essence of the calling/mission is front and center at all times. This allows the new person a quick understanding of what God is doing here. "They" say you have three seconds to communicate that message these days.  Keep the focus on new relationships if your ministry is in growth mode. 
 
There are so many places the body "lives" today and many ways to connect. It is best to keep every one of them going. Let time kill off a communication format, not you. A vibrant ministry will use every means of communication available. Giving is also in many forms today, not just the way you came to Christ either! 

Mobile giving pages are necessary today. All of your giving pages should be mobile friendly. Android and iPhone apps for your egiving tools will allow younger members to access their giving accounts right from the pew.

Accommodating your generations and the rapid changes in payment systems is smart.  You do not have to be right at the edge but not too far behind to facilitate a growing ministry's giving. There is a value in electronic giving that goes beyond accommodation to being a preference of leadership. 

These days we are a very distracted culture. Most of us manage only a household budget, and that means monthly "in and out" to our cash flows.  To be effective in stewardship requires faithfulness. As the leadership, you should consider inviting your members to set up a recurring tithe. Your tools should handle this.

It is better to use ACH (checking) for its inexpensive processing costs. Either require it or state, "If possible, please use your checking account for your giving. That way your entire gift goes to the church."  This will matter greatly down the road. 

Building a recurring giving program is a welcome breath of fresh air over time. God wins, the giver wins and leadership wins. We recommend paper forms as well as online access to setting up the recurring gifts. Ideally your giving tools allow access by the member to manage their account, but not required for a gift to have an account. 

Listen to your people. When you keep hearing the same request for giving methods/connectivity tools over and over, that is the signal to accommodate them. This plan keeps stress down and keeps you on the curve…not ahead or behind.

George Eusterman is founder/director of Egiving.com, a ministry founded in 2000 to provide development strategies and electronic giving tools for the purposes of Christ, www.egiving.com.









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