Doing a church online giving comparison and thinking of using Tithe.ly over the PayPal for church donate button or making the switch to Tithe.ly from PayPal?
We want to make the decision as easy as possible, so we’ve put together some info that’ll help you decide which option is best for you.
Below, you’ll find information to help you compare Tithe.ly’s church giving suite of tools and PayPal donate now button, including features, customer experiences, pricing and thoughts from current Tithe.ly customers who have made the switch.
We hope this helps…
PayPal is a well-established and popular way to send and receive payments online. The company pioneered digital payments and was the first of it’s kind in online donations for churches and nonprofits.
The most popular feature for churches is their donate now button that is easily (so they say) embedded on your church website so that members and others who want to support your work can do so quickly.
While a very compelling option in the early days of PayPal, nowadays there are a handful of red flags you should be aware of when it comes to using PayPal for your church website and online giving needs.
Be sure to consider the below 10 PayPal red flags when evaluating and deciding upon your primary church-giving solution.
If you go to the set up page for a PayPal donate button you’ll quickly realize that there are quite a few steps — 11 to be exact.
Those 11 steps only get you their standard donate button … that doesn’t include fund designations, recurring giving capabilities, or any other bells and whistles. If you want more (albeit not much) you’ll have to add quite a few more steps to the mix.
Although possible (I think), the out-of-the-box, 11-step setup PayPal donate button does not include the ability for givers to designate donations to a specific fund (e.g. missions, weekly tithe, love offering, youth camp, etc.). And if you want to give your church members the ability to make one gift of say $500 and designate $100 to their weekly tithe, $300 to missions, and the final $100 to youth camp … well, you’re out of luck. PayPal doesn’t allow you to do this at all.
Automated recurring giving is such a critical element of online giving and should be highlighted on your website. A successful recurring-giving program helps smooth out the revenue dips so many churches go through during summer months, vacations, etc. — Helping to stabilize the budget and ensure expenses are covered.
Doing this with PayPal … well … that’s 27-step setup process and you better have someone who knows how to modify HTML code.
It’s not that it’s difficult for someone who has these technical skills, but it’s far from simple and if you don’t have the skills on staff or a volunteer who is willing to help, you’re out of luck.
Want to allow givers to set their recurring-gift schedule (e.g., 16th of every month)? Too bad. PayPal doesn’t support that.
At the end of the day, doing recurring giving with PayPal is just hard.
Let’s have a look at the standard donation process that a church goer / donor using PayPal would experience vs. that of Tithe.ly.
We’ll start with PayPal:
Alternatively, with Tithe.ly:
As you can quickly tell just based on the numbers of steps (5 for PayPal vs. 3 for Tithe.ly), the giver has a much better experience using Tithe.ly vs. PayPal. Additionally, being redirected off your church's website to a third-party site can cause trust issues for givers. Especially if they are not familiar with PayPal already.
According to the Digital Giving Index, branded giving pages convert (e.g. get people to complete their gift) seven times (yes, I said 7X) more than non-branded pages and have an average gift size 33% greater!
But PayPal for churches doesn’t allow you to own the branding or user experience.
First off, even if you use a custom button to trigger a donation from you website, once clicked, your members will be taken to a PayPal shopping-cart like experience that gives you very little ability to add your church brand. You essentially have no control over any of it other than being able to add your logo or church name.
Second, the shopping-cart donation experience may confuse church members who do not understand why they are going through a “purchase” experience on the PayPal website as compared to a giving experience on your church’s website.
Ultimately, these two things give off the wrong impression to members and individuals who are eager to financially support the work of your church. This type of experience can result in a frustrated member who abandons the online process altogether — the exact opposite of what you’re trying to accomplish.
On the other hand, Tithe.ly offers a branded, streamlined, and giver-centric experience that simplifies the process for donors while making a clear connection for reasons to give.
PayPal gives people the option to give without a PayPal account, but it’s somewhat hard to locate. You have to look for the small text link on the ecommerce-looking giving page that says “continue.”
Offering a simple (and obvious) way to give without an account is important because not everyone who supports your church will be a regular giver who wants to set up an account for frequent use. Some folks will simply want to make a one-time donation for a specific program or to support your missions work.
If you make this hard to do, I guarantee people will start to give online to quickly abandon that thought because they couldn’t figure out how to do it.
Using PayPal’s donate now button does get you a responsive donation form, but I’d argue that it’s a very poor experience for all the reasons stated above. In fact, because it’s happening on a mobile device where real estate comes at a premium, the experience for the giver is even worse.
PayPal’s online donation button for churches is a single feature. It’s been in its current state for years without any major advancements. But with a system likeTithe.ly you get:
With today’s proliferation of mobile devices and advances in responsive design, an online donation feature for your church that allows donors to give from their smartphones via a responsive web form, a mobile-giving app, text-to-give, and more, improves engagement and encourages future donation activity for your church.
Organizations that make it as easy as possible to donate will increase donations and build stronger relationships with donors.
PayPal has never been famed for good customer service. Droves of people have seen their funds frozen with little or no explanation, such as some indie videogame companies during their crowdfunding campaigns.
PayPal is an enormous business whose model is setup to be as hands off as possible -- especially for churches and nonprofits using their donate now button. It’s not that they’re doing it on purpose, it’s that their business isn’t setup to support the needs of the church specifically.
Your giving data is important for many reasons. From being able to send yearly giving statements for individual tax purposes to understanding your members' giving tendencies, the more data you have and the better you leverage it, the more effective you will be.
But with PayPal, you’re stuck with exporting your data from their admin tools and importing it into your church management system (ChMS). Of course, this isn’t the end of the world, but it does add administrative time to your overall giving and data management efforts.
Time that could be spent on more valuable efforts if the data automatically synced with your ChMS.
At the end of the day, PayPal for churches is a great product and has helped to revolutionize the digital payments industry. If you’re in a pinch and have to do something quick, PayPal may be a decent option. But I can’t think of any other reason you’d choose PayPal as your church’s lead website and online giving option. Ten years ago you didn’t have many options, but today there are companies like Tithe.ly delivering much more value and better features at competitive prices.
Be sure your church is evaluating those options and making the right choice for your congregation! Check out one of the ways to give below!