Generosity

How Cornerstone Church Grew Giving with Tithe.ly

Lead Pastor Mike Morris recalls a recent change that…

Generosity

How Cornerstone Church Grew Giving with Tithe.ly

Lead Pastor Mike Morris recalls a recent change that…

Editors note: Originally published on Church Executive.

Founded in 2004, Cornerstone Community Church (CCC) is a young church located in the rural mountains of Virginia, meeting in a converted downtown storefront. In a city with a population less than 7,000, finances have been a struggle for the growing church.

Here, Lead Pastor Mike Morris recalls a recent change that has helped CCC not just meet its monthly budget for 2017, but exceed it.

Last summer, our church decided it was time to revamp our online giving. Until that point, we offered a solution that only provided ACH bank account giving as an option — cumbersome, complicated, and only a few families in the church used it.

Lead Pastor Mike Morris

After an extensive evaluation of different mobile giving platforms, we chose Tithe.ly as our new mobile giving provider. We were most impressed by the ease of giving it offered via mobile devices. We also liked that this solution charged no monthly fees. So, it was an easy decision for our administrative team.

We launched the new service in September 2016, with positive results. We now have six months of use to help us identify new trends. These include:

A significant ramp-up in online giving = more consistent generosity.

Our church is a little unusual in that the first quarter is typically our lowest quarter, financially. Our giving starts picking back in summer, but our biggest slump is the first three months, with January representing the lowest point.

After launching our new online giving platform, we quickly saw our giving trends change. We now see 34% of all giving occur online, which is a big increase from our previous solution. Another positive benefit is that 41% of our online giving is recurring giving, which makes it much more consistent from week to week.

After the first quarter, the church is ahead of budget by two full weeks — a more than 5 percent improvement compared to the previous year. It’s also the first time the church has ever been ahead of budget during the first quarter!

Increased giving per person.

Our attendance has been consistent over the past couple of years, which means giving per person has increased. The average gift size through Tithe.ly is $162, which shows that people are using this tool for their tithes, not just for smaller gifts.

More money for ministry.

Based on the current average for 2017, we should exceed our annual budget by $30,000. And, if we take into account the increased giving for the third and fourth quarter, we’re on track to exceed our budget by more than $50,000! For a church our size, that’s a huge blessing.

The increased giving will allow us to do two things. First, we can pay down the mortgage on our facility. This will free up more money for ministry and mission efforts.

Second, this budget surplus will allow us to expand the staff. As a church averaging about 300 people in attendance with two Sunday services, I’m the only full-time staff member, serving as lead pastor. We’ve wanted to expand our staff for several years, but the lack of funds has prevented hiring another part- or full-time staff person.

We’re pleased with the consistent increased giving we’ve seen since implementing a more robust online giving solution. I’d recommend all church leaders think about making mobile giving more accessible to their congregation.

Our only regret is that we didn’t implement it sooner.

————————

Mike Morris is Lead Pastor at Cornerstone Community Church in Galax, Va.

Expert Tips on How to Effectively Launch a New Online Giving Tool

01
Make it accessible so people can give in the way that is most comfortable to them. Don't make it hard for people to give money.
Some people like to give online, some like mobile, some like text. Whatever they like, let them give in that way if you can.
02
Brady Shearer
www.storytape.com
Talk about it every single week. Consistently promote it on every platform. 
Be patient. We all resist change.
03
Michael Lukaszewski
www.churchfuel.com
Launch it to your staff, your leaders, and your volunteers (in that order) and help those groups use it before you launch it publicly.
04
Teach it in your new member class.
Allow for people to sign-up right on the spot via their mobile phone (or through a laptop or iPad for those that don't have a mobile device handy).
05
Justin Dean
www.thatcc.com
On launch weekend, have volunteers and staff accessible with iPads to walk people through how to set up an account and get recurring giving configured.
06
Daniel Irmler
www.churchhero.com
On a regular basis, tell stories from members who are using and loving it. 
You don't don’t need a big production value shoot. Keep it simple by using an iPhone (horizontal) and a decent mic.
07
Invite your congregation to take out their phones and download the mobile giving app right in the service.
08
Nik Goodner
www.crtvchurch.com
Explain the why behind the change and highlight the benefits of the new system. 
People like to be "on the team".
09
Kevin Ekmark
www.church.org
I always tell people, "you need to clean your house before you invite friends over". It's crucial that your giving platform is easily found, whether it's on the web or in the church. 
On the web, making sure that your website is mobile friendly (Google and Bing both recommend mobile responsive design) can be a huge help. You can also incorporate bots from Facebook or a service like Intercom to help walk people through online giving on your website. When necessary, a human can jump in and help too. This helps complete the process from being found online to completing the online giving.
10
Logan Fields
www.theappguys.org
Tell them the real reasons. Giving members are concerned with what's best for the church and not just what they individually prefer. Transparency.
"This platform will allow us to better manage finances and spend less staff time on the books and more on people." etc. The temptation is to treat members like consumers who we need to impress instead of team members. Treat them like equals who you assume are interested in what's best for the church/ mission and people will likely rise to it.
11
Kenny Jahng
www.kennyjahng.com
Launch a $3.16 campaign. Ask people to all give just $3.16 to a weekly or bi-weekly blessing fund. Then, pick one person or cause to bless IN TOWN and go give that person all the money collected.
  • It could be the all volunteer firefighter squad in town. "We'll take all the $3.16's collected and go buy a meal or treat and drop off for the firefighters who volunteer."
  • It could be a widow the church knows about - bless her with something new for her home or hobby or pets.
  • Single mothers - supply them with a night out. Or pay for a house cleaner or a handyman for a couple of hours.
  • Special needs families - pay for evening out for the parents and child care for the special needs kids so the parents get a break.
  • You can ask for "sponsors" in the future, getting people to nominate good causes (let the youth do this!) and let them deliver the blessing and report back each sunday.
  • You can ask for "sponsors" in the future, getting people to nominate good causes (let the youth do this!) and let them deliver the blessing and report back each sunday.
This works incredibly well because you are teaching generosity / outward posture to your people on a consistent basis and getting people to give on mobile- while making it about PARTICIPATION vs AMOUNT. You'll have people regularly trying out the mobile option as well as pre-register them in the system.

There you have it! Some amazing tips, right?

Which tip stood out the most to you … or looked to be the craziest?! Share with us in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you!

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How Cornerstone Church Grew Giving with Tithe.ly

Tithe.ly

Tithe.ly powers mobile, text, and web giving for
churches and ministries.

LEARN MORE
Sign Up