How Amazon Changed Church Giving Forever

Amazon (and eCommerce) has changed church giving forever. Here's what you need to know and how your church can respond before you get left behind.

How Amazon Changed Church Giving Forever

Dean Sweetman

How will e-commerce change church giving by 2030?

I've got news for you.

The Bible says this in Ecclesiastes, "There's a time for everything" (Ecclesiastes 3).

This is the time of mobile digital technology.

It cannot be understated the seismic shift going on in the way commerce is conducted around the world. Trillions of dollars are moving to the mobile device. Mobile commerce is the fastest growing area of commerce and will be for the next 30 or 40 years. Things that you and I used to do across a counter with a check or with cash, that's going away. For those of you in the US, you travel on most US airlines and you want to buy a Coke, there’s no cash allowed. They won't even accept it. So many places now are restricting payment methods to card and mobile. Certainly here in the US, checks are not widely accepted anymore in a lot of places.

So everything's moved to plastic in the last 25 years. But the next shift that's happened is the shift from the physical card to the digital wallet.

In the old days, I'd go to the yellow pages, I'd find the taxi company, I’d dial the number, I'd tell them where I was, they'd radio a taxi driver, they'd come to me and I'd get in and then usually I’d pay with cash. Now, I open the Uber app, I put where I want to go, I press confirm, and within five minutes I've got a car. I get in the car, I go to my destination, I get out, I say, "Thanks for driving me today," and I go to my next meeting. I haven't touched a card. All I did was click two buttons.

That's where everything's going. So how is that going to affect the church? Hugely. It already is. Offerings and giving online really in earnest started about 10 years ago with PayPal and PayPal gave people the ability to put a button on their website. It wasn't a great solution, but it's what we had. So we click the PayPal button, people fill out their card information, and they gave. Over the last 10 years that has transformed significantly to the point where you can now put a giving widget on your website or better still have a mobile giving experience through a custom app or through a free app and literally put your card in one time, make a recurring donation, make a one-time gift, set it all up, and get your receipting. All of that stuff that becomes critical to the giving experience.

Here's the truth:

If you are not mobile-first with your giving in your church, you're going to fall behind. Your giving is going to go down. Anyone under 35 has no problem putting their credit card or their debit card inside an app and giving that way. Not one. They do it 10 times a week already. They go to the pharmacy, they get a coffee, they order an Uber, they're doing so much stuff within their mobile device. Churches must go mobile-first and that mobile experience should include all kinds of things to on the inside of the mobile experience. This is scary. I don't want to do this. I want to do it the old fashioned way. Resist that instinct and embrace mobile-first technology when it comes to your giving because the whole world is going mobile.

Amazon has revolutionized everything. Brick and mortar stores are closing at the most alarming rate. People often think: "Isn't that terrible what online is doing to brick and mortar businesses?" You know what? The trend of how people want to shop is shifting and the trends of how people want to give to your church are shifting right in front of us.

Don't fight it.

Don't be that store that says, "I'm not going online because I don’t want to go through the trouble," and be out of business. Embrace the technology.

Get in front of it.

Offer the giving services digitally, both online and mobile, and you'll be able to keep your offerings not just steady but increasing.

We know for a fact in our data that giving increases when you have a mobile giving first strategy. I can give you another 20 reasons why you should go mobile-first in your church experience strategy, but that alone—consistency, increased giving, ease of use, anywhere, anytime—that will grow your giving and be an important strategy in ensuring that your church does not fall behind financially. 

All of those are great reasons to have a mobile giving first strategy. You've got to do it.

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How Amazon Changed Church Giving Forever