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Making Tithing More Convenient for Members
By: Bryce Collman

Generosity expert Brian Kluth suggests we "create bigger baskets by giving people more ways to give" in order to create a culture of "more faithful givers."

The idea to make giving more convenient does not come without challenges or considerations.  The top three concerns that we encounter when talking with ministries are:

* What are the giving trends that indicate a need to change? 
* Does giving convenience align with our values?
* Can we afford to implement new giving technology?

Giving Trends
The leading indicator for preferred giving methods is illustrated in how our American families pay for everyday items. As we see the transition from check to more electronic methods for everyday purchases, the same trends are being echoed in generational giving methods.

Another consideration for making giving more convenient is how often a member attends weekly services. A ministry can expect that older generations are more likely to respond to direct mail requests while also embracing electronic giving methods. Younger generations are more likely to give electronically and increase gift amounts over time.

Lastly, the suggestion to "make the basket bigger" lies in knowledge that, regardless of age, weekly service attendance is not consistent. So the question arises: how can we incorporate electronic methods while upholding our values?

One of the leading concerns we hear is "how do we provide online giving channels but avoid creating member debt?" If your values echo the majority of churches by avoiding credit card giving, you do have options.

ACH allows members to give to your church through automated bank drafts. A point to consider is that this is the least preferred method of giving, but it is available through most merchant service companies.

The most preferred electronic transaction is by using a debit card, which has traditionally meant that a church must also accept credit cards. 

Both methods of giving can help churches overcome three primary issues: avoid creating member debt, help create more consistent givers through recurrent transactions, and reduce cost for online giving.

This leads to the final consideration: "what are the costs?"

Debt-free giving services are the least expensive. ACH transactions, at the high end, tend to cost $1.50 per transaction. Remember that payment processing companies charge a "mark-up" for providing these services.

They also have differing fee structures for all forms of processing. To ensure you are paying the least amount for services, we suggest two things: ask for pricing transparency and do a comparative analysis. 

Pricing transparency is simply taking the time to ask questions. Based on a $100.00 gift, what is the percentage breakdown of our expense? How much does Visa make? How much does the card issuing bank make and how much do you make? 

Any trusted provider will gladly be transparent in their pricing models. This also makes it easy to compare costs between companies. When comparing costs, ask for total pricing, including all fees, based on 20% of your prior monthly giving from each company. 

Companies may sound more attractive because of their lower monthly fees, but they traditionally have higher transaction percentages.

It is important that you have the ability to review the entire picture to ensure the lowest expense. Once you compare the expense, you can decide if online giving is affordable but "will it grow your giving?" 

Making the basket bigger through electronic methods aligns with our national and generational trends by making it more convenient to give, but it doesn't provide the reason to give. That message comes from you.

Specific messages about how tithes impact your organization and work to change lives will be the determining factor in growing your giving across all channels and generations. 

Bryce Collman is the founder and chief executive officer of Ardent Giving Solutions, Keller, Texas, www.ardentgivingsolutions.com.


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