How Cryptocurrency Is Changing Church Giving for the Better
Read this article for the definitive guide on giving and receiving cryptocurrency gifts at your church.
November 20, 2019
A church app isn't a "novelty"—it's the future of church growth. Disagree? Check out these 7 church app myths and why they're misinformed.
June 19, 2019
Giving your church a church app can sometimes feel like putting a 16-year-old who doesn’t know how to drive in a paddle shift transmission Lamborghini.
When you don’t know how to use something, it’s hard to appreciate all of its features.
This is especially true for a church app.
On the one hand, there is no single piece of tech that is easier to waste by letting it gather dust as a fancy website alternative than the church app.
On the other hand, there is no single piece of tech that could more powerfully boost your church engagement than the church app when used correctly.
At the root of much church app misuse are myths about what they are, how they work, and whether churches should get them. Once you debunk these myths, your pathway to using your church app to engage your church drastically increases.
So, let’s get right down to busting myths so that you can get back to growing your church and boosting engagement among your members.
Here are seven church app myths that you need to stop believing today for the sake of your church.
People do engage over church apps.
But many church apps don’t foster engagement, not because members don’t want to use them, but because church leadership doesn’t actually use them.
For example, there are several features ina church app built for you by Tithe.ly Church App, that boost engagement instinctively. Here are a few features that come with every Tithe.ly Church App:
This helps everybody to get on the same page about key events. With this calendar feature, the church app becomes the “command central” of the questions “When?” and “Where?” for every event in your church.
This feature allows people to sign up for scheduled events through the app rather than routing them through a pen-and-paper or alternate website solution, which means that if people want to belong somewhere, they should be directed to the app.
This feature makes it normal for people to be “on” their phones during service, taking notes in a specific part of the app that exports a beautiful PDF to your email that you can use to discuss during small group later in the week.
This feature makes it possible for people to watch the week’s sermons right in the app.
These tools will help your church, small groups, volunteer groups, and event-specific groups stay informed about the latest information relevant to their efforts.
This feature brings all church-related news into a single spot—including social media, latest sermons, and typical church bulletin information relevant to your church members.
Make it easy for people to set up recurring donations from any card or bank account through their member account on the church app, which means they can manage tithing entirely through the app.
It’s clear with these features that whether people find it helpful or not comes more down to whether the church leadership prompts a culture that values the app by investing in it and using it, or whether they treat it as a throwaway luxury that is dispensable and irrelevant.
If church leadership treats the church app as central, relevant, and purposeful, the church members will use the church app centrally, relevantly, and purposefully.
People don’t know what they don’t want.
In 2006, it would have been easy to say to Steve Jobs: “People don’t want their phone to have screen buttons.” Lo and behold, the iPhone was the single most revolutionary invention since the Internet itself.
If your church app is just about the vanity and luxury of having cutting edge technology in your church, then it’s true—people don’t want it and they don’t care about it.
But technology never exists for its own sake.
People don’t just want tech.
People want connection.
People want engagement.
People want convenience.
People want to be “in the know.”
People want to be prepared, registered, belonging, ready for whatever their church has going on.
Your church app makes it easy to do this.
Stop cluttering your church welcome speech with announcements and tell your congregation:
“For all information about what’s happening, our church calendar is right in the church app. Check it out to see what we’ve got going on this week and what to register for!”
You could even include a “Weekly Events” video or email in the app to tell people important information for the coming week.
Relying on email alone for this forces people to rummage through their email for crucial church information.
Whatever your method, using your app as the command central for information is the most convenient method for informing people in your church about what’s going on, when it’s happening, how to be involved, and what to bring.
An app gives engagement, clarity, convenience, and tight-knit community.
People want that.
But you as a church leader must use it correctly.
Church apps add value to your church because they give multiple operations within your church that cost a lot of time, energy, and money a single, streamlined solution.
The church app gives back your church leadership—and your church members.
Know what else?
Your church app makes information access, event registration, financial giving, and event scheduling all accessible and executable through the app.
It’s very possible to waste thousands of dollars on a church app.
Or, you could spend $50 per month to have an app that’s fully supported and updated by our own team of engineers at Tithe.ly, who have already successfully created church apps for thousands of churches.
If you let your DIY instincts take over how you approach your church app, you could end up wasting money—and much of your time—on building something that’s less functional and less affordable than your church realistically needs.
With the Tithe.ly Church App, your church gets the value and usefulness it really needs for less than half your church’s coffee budget.
And with the money your church gets from transferring recurring giving to your church app, you’ll be able to upgrade your coffee to the special third-wave stuff.
The point is this:
Every myth is a half-truth.
The truth in “Church apps are a money pit” is this:
Church apps can be a money pit.
The best idea in the world can be a money pit if it’s executed poorly and leaders fail to delegate the right tasks to the right people.
At Tithe.ly, you can get a megachurch app WITHOUT spending megabucks. Our team will have you up and running in no time for an unbelievably affordable rate.
Whether or not people use your church app is far more a matter of how your leadership uses your app than how your members use it.
Members will follow suit of the leadership.
If your church’s leadership uses your app to schedule, communicate, process donations, check-in, make announcements, and issue important statements, people will use it.
People want to be engaged.
People want to be informed.
All transition comes at the cost of a learning curve.
Every learning curve is a little painful.
Eventually, people will willingly go through the uncomfortable learning season to ensure that they’re on the same page with everyone else in the church.
Getting your volunteers to use the app goes a long way in setting the tone for church’s relationship to your app.
One way to get volunteers to use the app is to have the church’s executive team host a “Volunteer Only” BBQ or party to launch the app.
Before you get to the food, have a 15-minute sit-down where the senior pastor has everyone take out their phones, download their apps, turn on push notifications, and start using the calendar and events portion for scheduling.
It might even be helpful to break volunteers up into teams and have team-leads get their particular team oriented for five minutes on how exactly their team will be using the app.
After that, members will inevitably start using your app once the church leadership and volunteers continually reference information contained in the app.
A church app is a perfect opportunity to invite new visitors in, rather than make them feel left out.
The pastor can make a 15-second pitch on stage to the tune of:
“If you’re new, please download our church app here [...] and indicate on the home screen that you’re a new visitor. It’ll help us connect with you after the service and get plugged in!”
Did you catch that?
With a church app, you can have visitors willingly and eagerly on-board themselves.
Then you have their contact information, address, referral information, and reason for visiting—and whatever fields you want to include to gather information from your visitors.
Use your church app as a way to invite people into your church, and afterward, they’ll have your app on your phone as a reminder of what a great experience they had at your church!
Subsequently, you can send them push notifications to remind them to come back to church, invite them to small group, or get them plugged in through another avenue.
The point is—when the visitor has the app, they will feel like they are part of the church, and therefore feel more “in” than if they had nothing.
People think that because people are distracted by their phones, a smartphone app will further detract from personal engagement.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Your church app facilitates engagement, allows people to schedule get-togethers, expedites and smooths communication, and makes it easier for people to engage with one another than ever before.
The point of the app is not to be the place of engagement, but to be a tool which better administrates and fosters engagement.
Riddle me this:
Who is more likely to actually hang out—a group of friends in a group text saying “Anyone free tonight?” or a scheduled church app calendar event with RSVP, push-notifications, and email reminder integration?
You’re right—it’s the church app.
The church app cultivates engagement—it doesn’t destroy it.
Don’t let this myth get in the way of growing engagement in your church.
The best thing you can do for your church engagement is to get a church app like the kind Tithe.ly Church App can provide.
Wherever you get it, realize that in the 21st century, the number of churches that don’t have a church app will be less and less.
The only question is whether you’re going to be a late adopter in five years when every church has an app, or whether you’re going to be ahead of the curve and use technology proactively with the skill to grow engagement and boost church growth.
Which of those two paths do you want for your church?
Get a church app today and use it the right way to create a culture of organized engagement in your church.
In a previous blog post, I shared the different ways your church can thank donors—from automated emails to year-end giving reports. Printed donation letters also play an essential role in your church’s stewardship efforts.
Donation letters are the Swiss Army knife of your church’s gratitude arsenal. It may not be the most powerful—but it’s versatile, handy, and gets used often.
Your basic church donation letter can serve many different purposes, including:
A single, well-crafted donation letter can pull together several of these things simultaneously. Better donation letters lead to more giving, which leads to more donation letters—thus creating a cycle of on-going church generosity.
Here’s the good news—you don’t have to write an individualized letter for every person who gives to your church. That would be tough to do for even smaller churches. And most donors don’t expect you to. They’d rather you be putting their gift to better use in the community, instead of ceaselessly writing thank you notes.
With the possible exception of some unique circumstances, your church can use template language for the majority of your church donation letters. You’ll have to add in custom details like the donor’s name and gift amount, but you can write everything else in advance.
To make this even easier on you, here are a few basic church donation letter templates you can copy and paste. Keep in mind that not all of these have to be in print—you could just as easily turn some of these samples into email appeals.
The Donation Acknowledgement Letter is a basic way you can confirm and affirm a monetary gift to your church. Sending these is standard practice in church and nonprofit culture.
Dear [first name],
I want to personally thank you for your donation of [gift amount] to [church name]. We’re honored you would bless us with your generosity. Donations like yours make a big difference in the work our church is doing in the community.
Without givers like you, our church can’t have an impact or influence in our community. With your support, we’re partnering with local nonprofits, sending out global mission trips, and hosting small groups on topics that help real people like you. Together, we can make a difference.
Because we’re a tax-exempt nonprofit, you also get to write this donation off on your taxes. This letter serves as official proof of your donation, so keep it in your records come tax season. At the end of the year, we’ll also send you an annual recap with how much you’ve given to the church.
Thank you for supporting [church name]!
Not every church member realizes the importance of giving, or understand Bible verses about tithing and giving. So a Donation Request Letter helps to spread that awareness and encourage a spirit of generosity.
Dear [first name],
How are the finances in your household? That was a rhetorical question, so you don’t have to answer—besides, this is a letter so we wouldn’t hear you anyway. But we still want you to think about that question.
Money is a uniquely human issue, one we all struggle with to one degree or another. Even if you’re financially blessed, you still have the burden of stewarding your money wisely. And we believe that one of the best ways to invest your money is into the local church.
Tithing (giving 10% of your income) on a regular basis not only supports the work we do at [church name]. It doesn’t just support local missions and community growth. It also shows an obedience to God by making his work a financial priority in your life.
So if you find yourself ready to put God first in both your heart and your wallet, we encourage you to make a one-time gift or sign up to make recurring donations. That way, you won’t have to ever wonder again about the financial status of your household.
Many church donations aren’t just one-time gifts. Plenty of givers contribute monthly—and that should be acknowledged.
Use this template to correspond with recurring givers.
Dear [first name],
Thank you for being an active and faithful member of our church community. By giving to our church on a monthly basis, you’re showing that our church has a meaningful place in your heart. We just wanted to write this to let you know that you’re in our heart, too.
Donating to the church monthly allows us to preach the gospel, make disciples, and support others in our community who need help. Others like the local food bank and the nearby homeless shelter. We’re answering the cry of the needy, and it’s all thanks to contributors like you.
We earnestly appreciate your ongoing support and want to let you know we’re here for you. If there’s ever anything we can do for you and your family, don’t hesitate to reach out. You are a valued member of our church family. And you’re financial support is making a difference.
At the end of each year, it’s customary to give your church supporters a summary of their gifts. The primary reason is for tax purposes, but it’s also a way to recap everything your church has done over the past year with their support.
Dear [first name],
You’re getting this letter because you gave to [church name] at some point during the past year. That might have been a one-time gift, or recurring donations. Either way, we want to thank you for your generous support. Every contribution helps.
One of the official reasons for this letter is for tax purposes. That’s right—you get to write these donations off on your taxes. Which is why we’ve included a summary of all the contributions you’ve made to our church this year.
But the other reason for this letter is to let you know what we’ve done with the money you gave. We take stewardship very seriously, which means we value spending our time and resources wisely.
During the year, our church supported local nonprofits, sent global missions teams, and baptised quite a few people. It was a great year for us—thanks in large part to donors like you.
So thank you for your support of our church, and we hope you’ll consider continuing to contribute to our mission in the coming year.
Sometimes you need to make a more significant financial push using tried and true church fundraising ideas. Some churches call this a Stewardship Campaign or a Church Capital Campaign. Either way, the goal is to raise a certain amount of money for a big project. And typically, a solid letter of appeal is an integral part of that.
Dear [first name],
God has a plan for everyone and everything. That includes you, and it includes [church name]. None of us can fully know God’s plan—the best we can do is pray and listen for clarity. Our church leadership has been doing just that and are excited to announce our latest church project.
[Detail the outline of the major church project—this could include a building campaign, or raising support for a global mission trip. Anything specific to your church that requires a fundraising letter. Be sure to include a fundraising goal so everyone knows what you’re shooting for.]
But we can’t pull this off without your support. Whether you give to the church on a regular basis, or just attend on occasion, we’re asking you to consider contributing to this massive undertaking prayerfully. It’s something we need our entire church community’s help with.
Even if you can’t make a large gift, know that every little bit helps. It’s more about coming together as a community united behind a common cause. We hope that you’ll consider making a donation towards this great step forward that we’re making together.
It’s not enough to just copy and paste this content and send away. The key to an effective church donation letter is a touch of personalization. Follow these tips to take your donation letters to the next level:
There’s no one right or wrong way to write a donation letter or request contributions. You’ve got to do what is right for your church and congregation. But if you stick to these general tips, you’ll probably start to see some traction when it comes to giving.
Most people don’t love talking about money in church. But it’s a necessary and vital part of your church. And maximizing your efforts when it comes to donation letters will help make those conversations more comfortable. So what do you do next to put this into effect?
And if you’re looking for ways to grow your church’s giving capacity, Tithely can help.
Tithely’s systems make it as easy as possible for people to give to your church. Now all you need to start doing is generating a culture of gratitude. There’s nothing standing in your way. Go unleash generosity in your church.
How does your church use donation letters to spread generosity? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Editor's Note: This is a guest post from Robert Carnes. Robert is a writer and storyteller. He's the author of The Original Storyteller: Become a Better Storyteller in 30 Days. A former church communicator and nonprofit marketer, Robert works as a managing editor for Orange in Atlanta.