3 Key Findings & Online Giving Best Practices from Dunham+Company Fundraising Research


3 Key Findings & Online Giving Best Practices from Dunham+Company Fundraising Research

How people shop and give continues to change. From making purchases to donating money, online is becoming the new normal.

You can probably observe these changes taking place in your life, as well as in the life of your church and community. For many people in the United States, we tend to think digital first when we’re shopping for something new, and we’re slowly getting accustomed to using our phones for social media, shopping, and even giving.

To help you stay up-to-date with these latest changes, we like to keep our thumbs on the pulse of the latest research. According to a new study by Dunham+Company, they have observed a dramatic increase in churches who offer online giving since 2015. In their research, they not only uncovered this significant finding, but they also unearthed several additional trends you and your church need to know and plan for.

Here are three key findings from Dunham+Company, as well as a list of best practices to increase your church’s online giving.

#1. A significant jump in churches who offer online giving

Based on the Dunham+Company/Campbell Rinker study, there has been a significant increase in churches who now offer online giving. From their research, they discovered that 74% of churches in the United States now offer online giving, which is up from 42% in 2015.

Based upon trends in consumer behavior, we believe the number of churches who offer online giving will continue to climb steadily. What is more, there are also several reasons why we think the number of people who give online or with their mobile device will increase, and that churches both big and small will observe an increase in their online giving.

For more information on these trends, check out How Giving Changed in 2017: 4 Trends Your Church Needs to Know.

#2. Smaller churches struggle with online giving

Even though smaller churches observed the most considerable uptick in offering online giving, smaller churches also experience the greatest challenges in leading people to give online.

From 2015 to 2017, the number of smaller churches in the U.S. who now offer online giving increased from 29% to 59%. As you can see in the graph above, despite the significant increase in the number of smaller churches who offer online giving, the number of people who actually give online in these churches decreased.

Commenting upon this trend, Trent Dunham, President of Dunham+Company, said, “Clearly larger churches are making [online giving] a priority while smaller churches are still struggling—even though the percentage who are offering the option to give online has basically doubled.”

As smaller churches embrace online giving, there are several reasons why many of their members are not giving online, which leads us to the next point.

#3. Common hurdles to online giving

Whether your church is big or small, there are various hurdles every church faces in leading people to give online. Here are some obstacles to online giving Dunham highlighted in their study:

  • Lack of promotion
  • Demographics
  • Unavailable giving kiosks
  • Complicated technology
  • No church app

Depending on the demographics of your church, you may have a congregation of people who are not inclined to give online for different reasons. This isn’t something to be concerned about, but it’s still a good idea to provide people with several ways to give, which will increase your church’s giving.

A giving Kiosk may seem out of reach for smaller churches, but that’s not the case. With, you can turn your tablets or computers into a giving Kiosk that allows people to make a one-time donation or set up recurring giving in seconds.

When it comes to building an app for your church, the concerns usually are the same as giving Kiosks. Many church leaders believe they’re cost prohibitive, time-consuming, or not necessary.

Well, things are changing fast, and the costs of getting an app for your church are declining, and mobile giving is rapidly increasing. What is more, as I pointed out above, providing additional ways your members can give will increase giving in your church.

Related: 9 Charitable Giving Statistics Your Church or Ministry Needs to Know

If you’re the pastor of a small church or a volunteer leader, don’t allow these common hurdles to keep you from moving forward with using and promoting digital giving tools in your church.

#4. Best practices for encouraging online giving

To help you lead your church to embrace online giving, I reached out to Eric Bryant,’s Implementation Team Lead, to provide some insight. Eric has been in ministry for more than 10 years, and he has helped countless churches launch new digital giving tools.

From his experience working, Eric said, “When it comes to giving, the biggest pain point for pastors in smaller churches is that their desperately needs more giving to grow.” He went on to say, “Some pastors are worried that if they teach Biblical generosity that people will be offended and stop giving altogether.”

In combating this fear, what Eric learned over the years is that people “will be more offended if you skirt around the issue of giving and don’t speak clearly and concisely.”  

1. Boldly teach the Bible

Talking about money isn’t easy. It’s a personal conversation, and most people don’t like the idea of someone knowing about their spending or giving habits. But this discomfort isn’t a reason to shy away from preaching or teaching on the subject.

Eric encourages church leaders to not "be timid when talking about giving and generosity.” Instead, he suggests, "Be bold and direct.”

If you’re not sure where to start or need help on what to preach about giving, check out 2 Sermons on Giving Your Church Must Hear.

2. Show people how to give

For promoting online giving, you don’t need a fog machine, light show, or fireworks. The only thing you need to do is to let people know all of the ways they can give regularly. .

“When you’re making an offering, let your church know that they can give online or with their mobile device. It doesn’t have to be flashy. Just informative.”

If your church uses a projector, Eric also recommends this idea, “Display a slide on the screen showing all the different ways that people can give when talking about giving in service.”

Offering more giving opportunities and just letting people know what options are available will go a long way in building a generous culture in your church.

3. Share stories

God is alive, and he’s at work in your church. He's giving people new life in Christ, he’s restoring marriages, and he’s transforming people into generous givers.

To capture God’s work in your church, Eric suggests, “Use personal testimonies from givers in your church. Give people the opportunity to share how being generous changed their life and the lives of others.”

Sharing stories with your church is one way you can illustrate God’s work in the lives of people and encourage the members of your church to honor God with their money.

What have you found helpful in leading people to give online? Share your ideas in the comments below.

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

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.
Brady Shearer
Talk about it every single week. Consistently promote it on every platform. 
Be patient. We all resist change.
Michael Lukaszewski
Launch it to your staff, your leaders, and your volunteers (in that order) and help those groups use it before you launch it publicly.
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).
Justin Dean
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.
Daniel Irmler
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.
Invite your congregation to take out their phones and download the mobile giving app right in the service.
Nik Goodner
Explain the why behind the change and highlight the benefits of the new system. 
People like to be "on the team".
Kevin Ekmark
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.
Logan Fields
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.
Kenny Jahng
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! powers mobile, text, and web giving for
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3 Key Findings & Online Giving Best Practices from Dunham+Company Fundraising Research powers mobile, text, and web giving for
churches and ministries.

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