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November 12, 2019
Not sure if your church needs an app? Check out these three key benefits.
February 4, 2019
"Do I need a church app?"
After building more than 1,000 church apps, we’ve heard this question more than once, which makes perfect sense.
After building a website, you may feel as if your work is done. Your site is mobile-friendly, so you may not sure if your church would benefit from an app.
Does your church need an app?
I can’t tell you what your church needs to do.
But I can share a few key differences between your church’s website and an app to let you decide.
In this post, I’m going to walk you through three reasons why mobile apps are better than mobile websites.
Let’s get to it.
Let me start by stating the obvious:
Your website is not a mobile app, and your mobile app isn’t a website.
I don’t mean to insult your intelligence, but it’s essential to point this out from the get-go.
Here’s the deal:
Many church leaders get confused at this point, and I can totally relate.
You invested money in building a website that looks good on a computer, tablet, and mobile phone. It’s slick, has a ton of features, and as far as you can tell, people in your church and community use it.
Building a website is a good thing, but it’s only one part of a bigger communication puzzle.
Here’s what you need to know:
If your website makes for a good mobile app, then your site doesn’t probably have the content it needs to work well. What is more, if your mobile app is used as your church’s website, then it’s probably not working the way it should.
Let me break it down for you like this.
There are two significant differences between your church’s website and app:
This isn’t a perfect comparison but hang tight.
I’ll show you what I mean.
Your church’s website is your new front door.
According to one unscientific study, as many as 90 percent of your first-time guests will visit your church’s website before they dream about visiting your physical location. While people are on your website, they’re trying to get a feel for who you are and gather basic information. After they spend time on your site, many people will decide whether or not to visit your church based upon their online experience.
You know what?
Your website should lead people to visit your worship service or event.
Your site needs to provide information potential visitors are seeking, and it needs to be readily available.
For instance, here’s some non-negotiable information you must include on your site:
Including this information is vital for your church.
Not only does it happen to be the most commonly searched for information on a church's website, bu this information is also missing on many church websites.
Know what else about your church website?
People will view most of the content on your site once.
Think about it.
After someone visits your church, knows what time your worship service starts, and they’re comfortable with your childcare, then they won’t consume this content again.
What’s the point?
Your church website serves an important role, and it’s vital for your church to have one. But your church’s website is limited in its purpose and what it can accomplish.
Enter church apps.
Unlike your church’s website, your church app will be primarily used by your church.
There’s a percentage of first-time guests or frequent visitors who’ll use your app. But for the most part, the people who use your app are people committed to your church. Since this is the case, the way you use your app will be different from the way you use your church’s website.
Let’s explore these differences next.
Your church is pulled in a million directions online.
“Like us on Facebook!”
“Follow us on Twitter!”
“See our latest updates on Instagram!”
“Listen to our podcast!”
“Read our blog!”
With so many options, your church members are led to several different locations. Basically, they end up getting bounced around online like a ping pong ball.
But this isn’t the case with your church app.
You can provide one location for your church to …
… engage with you on social media …
… listen to your latest sermon …
… register for an upcoming event …
… submit a prayer request …
… read a blog post ...
… make a donation …
… read the Bible …
… take interactive sermon notes …
Instead of leading people to follow you in a million different directions, you can lead them to download your app to connect with you on social media, engage in your church community, and stay up to date.
Check this out.
At Tithe.ly, your app can aggregate (combine) all of your social media and other content into one spot automatically. Aggregating your content creates a one-stop shop your app users can visit to engage with the content you want to feature.
Know what else?
With your app, your church can download your sermons to listen to offline when they are away from home, which is really hard to do with a website.
That’s not all.
Here’s another helpful tidbit:
Your church app users can easily share whatever they’re doing online.
Unlike most church websites, an app has built-in features that make shareability super easy. Making content easy to share is one way you can increase engagement everywhere your church has a presence online.
One last thing about boosting engagement with your church app:
As long as someone has downloaded your church app, you can send them a push notification (short message) to get their attention—even if they don’t have your app opened.
The message you send pops-up on their phone’s home screen, and they don’t even have to unlock their phone, answer a call, or check their email inbox.
Here’s a picture of what I’m talking about:
Sending push notifications is a powerful way you can get someone’s attention.
An app makes it easier for your church to give.
I understand people can access your church’s website with their mobile phone to donate. But this isn’t necessarily the best option.
Here are three reasons why:
First and foremost, your church app is built to create a great mobile experience.
Most church websites are built with a desktop or laptop user in mind. Your site may be mobile-friendly, but there’s a good chance your site wasn’t made to work well on a mobile phone.
When someone accesses your website from their smartphone, there’s a good chance it will be difficult for them to donate because the font is hard to read and the button to give is difficult to press.
When it comes to your church app, this isn’t the case at all.
An app is built with a mobile-user in mind, which leads me to the next point.
Mobile giving is easy on a church app.
The giving form is easy to access, and with a couple of clicks, your app users are well on their way to donating. What is more, an app gives your church the ability to give anytime, anywhere. And it makes it super easy to set up automated recurring giving.
These benefits aren’t theoretical, either.
We’ve found that when a church fully supports mobile giving, they’ll see at least a 10 percent increase in giving over six months.
Do you want to see an increase in giving?
Then provide your church with a mobile app to make it easy.
There you have it.
Three reasons why mobile apps are better than mobile websites:
Still not sure if a church app is right for you?
First, be sure you don't believe one of these church app myths.
Second, watch or listen to this discussion about the 5 Must-Know Church App Facts:
Ready to build an app?
Contact a specialist today for a no hassle conversation.
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.