I remember the day I pulled the phone from my pocket and raised it high in the air from the stage at the front of our sanctuary. On that phone was the very first iteration of Tithe.ly Giving, a mobile app that allows people to give to their church anytime, anywhere.
I told the people gathered for worship that morning to take out their phones as well—something that pastors didn’t often do back then. All in the span of a minute or two, I showed them how to download the app, set it up, and give. It was all so simple and so seamless. I knew it would change our church’s tithes and offerings forever.
It did that, but it also increased generosity like nothing I’d ever seen before.
Generosity without the Friction
As the CEO and one of the cofounders of Tithe.ly, an organization with a mission to help churches increase giving and engagement through the power of technology, I’ve seen it happen thousands upon thousands of times. When a church begins to offer a variety of digital giving options and educates people on how they work, giving increases substantially—at least 10 to 15 percent, and in some cases, much more. Why is that? It’s because online and mobile giving take away much of the friction involved in making a donation.
In the corporate world, business leaders and CEOs know that taking the friction out of a transaction will increase sales. It’s why, for example, Amazon has their famous “Buy Now” with-one-click button. Credit card and address information are already stored and ready to go, so when a person makes a decision to buy, they’re just one tap on their phone or one click on their mouse away from being done.
In the old days, you would have to add an item to your shopping cart. Then, on a different screen, you’d enter your mailing address. On another screen, you’d be asked to enter your credit card and billing information. And then, finally, you’d need to confirm the order on one last screen. That’s a lot of stops where someone might choose to get off the purchase train. It’s friction—annoying steps that extend the buying process and make it more difficult to complete.
Shortly after Apple allowed outside developers into the App Store for the iPhone, I downloaded the Starbucks app. It allowed me to enter a mobile order ahead of time so it would be ready for me when I arrived at the store. It also gave me the option of linking my credit card to my account, so when I got to the payment window of the drive-thru line, all the barista would have to do is scan my phone.
I remember the first time I tried it, I actually had to convince the Starbucks employee that I could pay with my phone. The tech was that new. (This was, of course, long before digital wallets.) And then the thought occurred to me, If I can buy a cup of gourmet coffee this easily, why can’t people give to their local church with as little friction? That question set me on a journey to help make giving easier. What I soon started discovering were factors that made recurring giving a natural path toward generosity.
Remove the Friction: Recurring Giving Increases Generosity
With digital giving, church members can easily set up recurring gifts, so that week after week, or pay period after pay period, their tithes and offerings are automatically deducted from their bank account or charged to their credit card.
It used to be that giving required a person to make a new decision, week after week after week, and that decision could tip one way or the other, depending on a number of factors—everything from an unexpected car repair that’s left their banking account a bit smaller than normal, to worries about the economy, to their ability to remember that checkbook on Sunday morning.
But with recurring giving, a person can make their mind up to be a cheerful giver just one time, and then, before long, they will have adjusted to living with that ongoing gift as part of their budget. Recurring payments can be paused or turned off, of course, but most people want to give. Digital, recurring giving just takes some of the friction away.
In truth, recurring giving is nothing new. For decades, churches have tried to get people on board with the idea of regular and routine giving. Remember those boxes of envelopes churches used to send out to members? Even today, some churches still do this. Why? There’s nothing magic about that envelope, but it was a way of getting a person to write a check and set it aside, so that each week when the offering plate came around they would remember to give their tithe. Recurring giving on a digital platform is much easier and much cleaner, but the idea is basically the same.
There’s another reason why recurring giving increases generosity. Think about today’s world. No longer are Sundays reserved solely for church attendance and rest. Instead, some families attend their kids’ soccer games. Other people have found extra mobility being able to do their job remotely, so they travel more and aren’t always around on Sunday morning.
Giving used to be tied to a giving moment on Sunday mornings. You know the one—the organist plays special music, the ushers come forward with a stack of offering plates, and the people in the pews wait for the plate to pass by as they scramble to write a check. Once that moment was gone, though, so was the opportunity to give. Now, however, a family who may only attend church once or twice a month because of scheduling conflicts can still give faithfully.
Make giving easier for your church by using Tithe.ly Giving.