Using Online Giving to Build Your Ministry
If you’ve ever Googled “online giving for churches” you’d quickly see that there are over 460 million results. Reading all the blogs, commentaries, and FAQ’s can quickly become overwhelming. Like most, you’re looking for a way to cut through the noise and narrow down your choice. While there’s not a one size fits all solution for every church, or ministry, I’d recommend looking at these options below. Consider how each option would fit into your specific ministry’s mission, values, and goals. Ensure that the solution you choose is mobile friendly, will work with your church’s website AND integrates nicely with your church management software (ChMS). Above all do your research, and network with other churches that have implemented a successful online giving platform to help find out what worked/didn’t work for them when starting out.
Planning Center Giving
Planning Center Giving is a single module that is part of a suite of tools from Planning Center Online. PCO Giving offers churches the ability to process donations online, and utilizes Stripe as its payment processing vendor. Stripe has lowered its normal processing rates for using PCO Giving, and offers churches a fixed 2.15% + $0.30 for debit/credit card transactions (Visa, Mastercard, Discover and AMEX). ACH transactions are fixed at $0.25 per transaction, and givers have the option of covering the fees so 100% of the donation can go to the ministry. PCO Giving has different tiers, and there is a monthly cost for churches that process 10 or more online donations. It’s important to note PCO Giving is not designed to replace your general ledger, but it can replace the multiple systems you use to track donations, including your normal check, and cash donations. Giving is available online, via a simple to use app, and users can even choose “text to give” at no additional cost. Planning Center Giving works seamlessly with other Planning Center modules working to create a systematic solution for everyone supporting the church. From the administrative side, to your treasurer, and all of your individual ministry leaders PCO Giving is a sensible choice for your entire ministry. Note: PCO is the current ChMS for the Pittsburgh District.
Over the last few years Tithe.ly has become the household name for online giving – and with good reason. They offer a free, easy to use cloud solution that allows givers to donate online, and via their mobile app. In 2018 Tithe.ly merged with Evanto to create the largest cloud based ChMS in the world. While there are no monthly fees for online donations, the payment processing fees are a little higher at 2.9% + $0.30 per debit/credit transaction (Amex is 3.5% + $0.30). ACH transactions are also hit with a 1% + $0.30 fee. There is an additional $19/mo charge to offer text-based giving. Similar to PCO Giving, Tithe.ly will not replace your general ledger (think QuickBooks), but it can help centralize your donations through a single system, and process regular giving in batches that’ll tie back in with their church management software. Since Tithe.ly integrates with it’s own ChMS they utilize a flat monthly fee to help churches expand usage and easily create reports, giving statements and more.
Faithlife Giving is a single module in the suite of tools produced and supported by Faithlife Ministries. Faithlife has adopted a unique pricing structure that sets it apart from our two previously discussed companies. Churches that receive more than $7500 in online gifts are charged $44.99/mo (currently wavied due to COVID-19). Payment processing fees are higher than both PCO, and Tithe.ly clocking in at 2.99% + $0.45 for credit & debit transactions. ACH transactions are assessed a 1.0% + $0.45 fee. Where Faithlife does excel is with their fully customizable suite of tools that are designed for church ministries. Tools that’ll allow you to host a website, offer online giving, share podcasts, and more from a single platform. Tools for worship leaders, administrative staff, and your children’s ministries. These tools are designed to complement each other to help your ministries grow. Faithlife is a good solution for churches that may be looking to start small, but add individual components as they grow.
Ultimately, choosing the right church online giving platform depends on the needs of your church. While each platform offers something a little different, all will help you provide your congregation with a way to give that suits their lifestyle. As you research giving options, don’t be afraid to contact these companies to ask questions and schedule demos. Find the platform that works for your church and watch your online giving numbers grow! If you have any questions for me, don’t hesitate to reach out. I will continue to update this blog with resources, and information as I come across them. As a reminder, there are a ton of solutions out there. My goal is to help narrow your choices, and guide ministries to a sensible solution that’ll work for them in the long run.