What is the best way to take on-line donations?

We have received so many questions all around the country. Another question that constantly comes up is, “What is the best way to take on-line offerings?” We have helped many churches set up their website to be able to do it. If you have a website, there are many plugins and it comes down to what type of site you have. Do you have a WordPress site or are you using some other service? Setting up an online offering is not difficult.

We use Stripe, (https://stripe.com/) for taking donations on CMI. The reason we use Stripe is that it allows a reoccurring method where someone could sign up to have money taken out periodically, and it gives you a lot of flexibility. You can easily plug Stripe into your website and create your Stripe account connected to your bank account, and then people will click Give or Donate Online and it would send it directly to your bank account. Here is a good tutorial on connecting Stripe to your WordPress site – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HYarbgMywNM

Let me give you another quick suggestion I think would be helpful. Many online artists, when they play live, will put up their Venmo account right on their stream. If you’re unfamiliar with Venmo, here is a link – https://venmo.com/. It’s a way that you can share money peer-to-peer. It has some restrictions on it, but it’s a great way to receive payment and a lot of the younger generation is using Venmo to exchange money between each other. Many of the online artists, as they play, will take requests through Instagram Live or Facebook Live and they’ll put their Venmo account on their stream and they call it their “virtual tip jar.” It’s something that I think churches should consider during this time. During your stream, you could list your Venmo account and those who use it could send donations with one click.
We need to make sure that our giving is as close to the user as possible by telling them, “Hey, make sure you go online, click this button,” and your most regular church members will do that. However, if you put your Venmo account as an alternative you may get an entirely different audience to donate. Start a Venmo account for your church, connect it to your bank account. I am an active Venmo user and I would much rather give through that mechanism. It’s really simple to use. I think adding options such as that would be helpful.

One other quick suggestion I would make is that you make time for offerings during your live stream. I know that we’re so quick to just jump from one thing to the next. Take time to create a designated offering time when you have somebody play a special or you do something from a media standpoint, and let them know this is time for the offering. What it does is it pauses the user, makes them decide, am I going to give or am I not going to give. Just running through it, expecting everyone to give is oftentimes allowing them to miss the opportunity and then it’s fleeting.

Take the time in your online service to give. Even if it’s just a quick offertory, a quick special, let them know, “Hey, this is the time for online giving.” Make sure that it’s listed or posted somewhere, make sure it’s on Facebook, make sure it’s on Instagram, all those other mediums that you’re using to stream. Use a Venmo account so that it’s almost like a virtual tip jar where you can list it on the screen and someone like me that has Venmo will take advantage.

Lastly, present a need. We are sitting in the audience, and our audiences are now our homes, watching a live service that we can’t participate in. We need a reason to give above our tithes and offerings. If you say, “Hey, just want to let you know offerings are down X percent,” that’s something. But if you said, “Hey, we have some families in need and we want to take an offering for them,” and you put something in front of people that stir their heart they will want to do something to help. Now we are sitting there helpless in the living room with our families, partaking of this service and we do want to participate. Allow us to participate. Say, “Here’s a project we’re working on, here’s what we’re trying to accomplish. This week, we’re trying to hit this level in our giving. We want to encourage everybody to give. This is the time, let’s take a moment for an offering.” I saw one church that had a person manning the phones live and they said, “If you call right now, we’ll take your offerings over the phone if you’re worried about security.” Get creative!