Your church already knows the importance of engaging its congregation to solicit support. Tithes and gifts are crucial to the sustainability of any religious organization, particularly ones that serves as community hubs like churches.
When it’s easier for your entire congregation and community to support your church’s work in multiple ways, they’ll feel more motivated to do so and you'll increase online giving in not time at all.
That’s why optimizing your church’s online giving page is one of the best church fundraising ideas out there. Too many churches (of all sizes) neglect their online giving tools despite working hard to provide an informative website.
There are many best practices you can follow. Here are seven of the most important and actionable ways you can improve your church’s online giving page:
- Direct traffic to a single point for online giving
- Learn more about your online supporters
- Focus on a simple design for mobile use
- Feature useful social media tools for supporters
- Integrate your giving page with your database
- Offer recurring gift options on your donation page
- Incorporate matching gift tools on your ways to give page
Digital tools represent a significant opportunity for churches to engage broader sections of their communities and receive more support than ever in the process. However, this must begin with making sure your tools are working and looking their best!
1. Direct traffic to a single point for online giving
You might already provide multiple ways for congregants to support your church, including an online giving page, crowdfunding campaigns, or text in church tools. It’s essential, however, to ensure that your digital giving outlets are as unified as possible. That is, you should direct people who see your posts on social media or visitors to your church’s website to the same giving page.
Having too many separate, ongoing digital giving outlets can become confusing for supporters and overwhelming for your team.
There are many benefits to directing your congregation to a single giving page, including:
- Streamlined marketing and promotional processes
- Clearer web traffic flows to your site and donation page
- Ability to more accurately track giving and marketing data
- Prevents confusion for potential givers on your website
Creating a clear link structure between your web pages, social media posts, online campaigns, and email newsletters to a single giving page is an effective (and easy) way to boost its overall utility!
2. Learn more about your online supporters
While many businesses and nonprofits race to capitalize on the immense value of data as an important resource, your church has one major advantage -- it’s a church. It has a more meaningful and trusting relationship with its members.
Your congregation will happily provide you with the important information and data you can use to make continually smarter fundraising decisions!
On your giving page, consider including an optional field on your giving form that asks for your congregants’ employment information. This simple act has the potential to provide your church with a huge boost in collections!
Corporate philanthropy programs, like matching gifts and volunteer grants, offer great opportunities for all kinds of nonprofits. Requesting and collecting your congregation’s employment information can be extremely useful, since you can use this data to:
- Research corporate philanthropy funds and your eligibility
- Develop personal relationships with local business leaders
- Guide your marketing and event planning
- Identify opportunities for community support initiatives
While it’s a best practice to offer matching gift search tools in your online giving process, directly collecting this information from your loyal congregants is an easy and foolproof way to identify new opportunities more generally.
3. Focus on simple design for mobile use
Mobile optimization is an essential element for any digital engagement today! The amount of web traffic on mobile devices continues to grow every day. Without a giving form that looks good and actually works on the smaller screens and lightweight browsers of smartphones, your congregants might feel frustrated and give up.
Even if your church offers text-to-give tools, it’s important to provide multiple digital collection plate alternatives. This way, congregants can make digital gifts during services, which opens up giving to people who don’t carry cash. Some might prefer not to use a text-to-give method , so make sure the process is easy and fast no matter how they choose to give.
There are some core guidelines for ensuring mobile functionality of online giving pages, such as:
- Remove all unnecessary design elements
- Reduce the number of fields to complete
- Provide a couple of straightforward options
- Offer some preset gift amounts
- Brand the page to your church
A clunky website and giving form is the fastest way to make a congregant change their mind.Abandonment, frustration, and confusion are all reasons that online givers stop mid-gift, so make some smart design choices to keep things simple and working great on screens of all sizes.
4. Feature useful social media tools for supporters
Your church already knows that an active social media presence is a crucial element of growing your online audience. The more people see your posts, the more likely they are to join your congregation, attend your events, and support your work.
Include tools on your giving page for congregants to share a message on social media after completing a gift.
Linking your collections page and social media activity can be one way to boost your congregation’s social media engagement with your church, but the effects of any best practices will amplify the others. For example, here’s how you might break down your overall social media strategies:
- Post thank-you messages and directly tag givers to make them feel appreciated
- Let congregants post preset gift confirmation messages
- Post weekly updates and links to other content
- Conduct a special online campaign, like crowdfunding a project or designing custom t-shirts, and promote it on social media
- Study your congregation’s engagement rates with your social media posts
- Understand the broader community and post content that engages them, too
Social media is an incredibly useful tool for engaging your congregation and community. By fully incorporating social media tools into your giving or thank-you page, you can fit your online giving process into your wider social media strategies, boosting the effectiveness of both.
5. Integrate your giving page with your database
The best way to invest in your ability to actually use your data is to ensure that your giving page or collections platform integrates with your database software. This means that the data collected for each online gift, like the congregant’s name, employment information, the date of the gift, and the gift amount, should all automatically report to your database.
Gathering this info can dramatically boost the usefulness of your optimized giving page for several reasons:
- Automatic reporting and organization of giver data, which saves you time
- Easier ways to identify important trends, like drops or bumps in collections
- Access to information that can greatly help with planning major events
For instance, if you’re planning a fundraising event, it might be useful to identify congregants who have made an online gift in the past but not for several months. Use event management software to build and prioritize lists, integrate your data, and automate invitations.
6. Offer recurring gift options on your giving page
Providing recurring giving on your giving page is among the easiest and most effective ways to boost your online collections. Plus, offering your congregants the option to easily provide structured support for your church without needing to manually make a gift every week or month can go a long way to deepen your relationships with them.
Choose the best ways to offer recurring gift tools on your giving page, and be sure to include some essential features:
- Weekly and monthly gift options
- Easy ways to change and cancel recurring gifts
- A simple checkbox or button featured on your giving page
Then, promote recurring gifts to your church by directly asking for them during your services or promoting them on social media. Most importantly, optimize your giving page to make the decision to provide recurring support easy, simple, and fast for your congregants.
7. [Bonus] Incorporate matching gift tools on your ways to give page
Corporate philanthropy represents a major missed opportunity for all kinds of nonprofit organizations. With matching gifts, companies will financially match their employees’ contributions to eligible nonprofits.
While policies vary regarding churches and religious organizations, it’s definitely worth exploring, particularly for any other community-based organizations that your church participates in.
Promoting matching gifts is the key to receiving them!
Many congregants don’t realize that they’re even eligible, so be sure to include database search tools wherever possible, like on your giving form.
Promote matching gifts and matching gift search tools anywhere that your web visitors might see them, including:
- Your giving page
- Your ways to give page
- Newsletters and email campaigns
- Social media posts
- Gift receipt emails
Definitely promote matching gifts on your giving page if your church helps run or is involved with other nonprofit organizations in the community. While churches aren’t eligible for some corporate programs, faith-based schools and community organizations typically are.
Over to you
Your congregation offers tithes during your church services, as cash, check, or text-to-tithe gifts. Make sure all your web visitors have easy ways to support your work, too. Follow these best practices for optimizing your church’s online giving page and see your digital collections steadily grow.
More resources and tips about online giving for churches:
- Online giving software for churches and ministries
- Increase Online Giving In Your Church with These 9 Proven Strategies
- Simple Guide To Creating Awesome Online Donation Pages
- 7 Ways to Optimize Your Church’s Online Giving Page to Boost Giving
- 7 Online Giving Myths That Are Crippling Your Church (NewData)
- 1 Offline Way to Encourage Online Giving
- How to Effectively Launch Online Giving: Expert Tips from 11 Communications Pros
- Choosing an Online Giving Service for Your Church: 7 Important Questions to Ask Before Making a Selection
- 3 Reasons Your Church Must Offer Online Giving
- 3 Key Findings & Online Giving Best Practices from Fundraising Research