Churches need lots of money to maintain operations, whether it’s to keep people on payroll, make repairs to the building, improve community awareness, or fund outreach efforts. And with more than $390 billion given to charitable causes per year, there’s no shortage of people willing to donate their money to opportunities and causes they see as worthy. The problem is, it’s not always easy to attract church donations.
While regular churchgoers often tithe a portion of their income to the church, asking too aggressively for church donations during service could force people away, and organizing extra fundraising efforts might or might not work out as intended.
One modern solution is to rely on a website to attract church donations, but is this a worthwhile and cost-effective strategy for church staff?
Why attract church donations online?
Let’s break down five of the most important advantages of attracting church donations online:
1. A bigger audience
If you’re stuck focusing on your local audience, or worse, only your regular church attendees, your church donations are going to be severely limited. Building a website opens your church to a much wider audience. Depending on what marketing tactics you use to support your church’s website, you could potentially open your church to people around the world.
Granted, you’ll need some strong persuasive skills and a good reason for people outside your community to donate, but even if a fraction of your new audience contributes, you’ll end up with more than what you started with.
2. Donor convenience
There’s a reason online transactions have become so popular. They’re usually more convenient for everyone involved. Instead of visiting your church in person or sending a check, donors can make a contribution no matter where they are, at their convenience. Assuming you accept multiple payment methods, you might also appeal to people who prefer a specific means of transaction, such as PayPal or cryptocurrency.
Depending on which online service you use, you may be charged a small fee to process these transactions, but that’s ultimately nothing compared to the boost you’ll get in total church donations.
Donation management is much more productive when you get automated emails letting you know when new donations have been received. With a properly established and managed website, you can easily determine when new church donations roll in, and dig into your history to learn more about your most frequent donors. Plus, thanks to modern website builders, it’s easier than ever to add new content and make changes on the fly.
You can update your church’s site every time you start a new campaign, and use photos and video to show the effects of your church donations in action.
Websites aren’t going away. Over the past 20 years or so, the United States has become increasingly reliant on online interactions for our daily lives. That has prompted the vast majority of businesses and organizations to build websites to capitalize on that activity.
You might need to make updates from time to time, but the infrastructure you build today has significant staying power.
Churches don’t often have to think about competition. After all, you’re all working for the same goal. But it’s worth considering in today’s landscape. If your church has a website, with all its convenience and content offerings, while the church down the street has no online accessibility, which organization do you think will be able to raise more funds?
Plus, creating a website allows your church to compete with other charitable causes your patrons may be considering.
Three downsides of using a website to attract donations
There are strengths and weaknesses to every church donation strategy. So what are the downsides to this online approach?
1. Initial costs
First, you’ll need to consider the initial costs of starting a website. It’s possible to build a website on your own, using free templates. But if you want a professional design, you could have to shell out thousands of extra dollars. On top of that, if you’re paying for hosting, domain services, and other services related to your website, it could cost you hundreds to thousands of dollars a year.
Fortunately, the plethora of free and low-cost website builders and similarly approachable options makes creating a website less expensive than ever before. This interactive tool will help you figure out what website builder is the best option for your church’s needs.
2. Training and orientation
If your church staff has never managed a website before, it might be difficult to get them to switch over to a new system. You’ll need to spend time training people, including any marketing and donation authorities in the organization, on how to update the website and integrate it into your other strategies. If you don’t have an internal marketing and tech-savvy expert, this process could be quite resource-consuming.
3. Ongoing management
You’ll also need to think about who’s going to manage the website on an ongoing basis. Someone needs to be responsible for keeping your plugins up-to-date (if you have a WordPress website) and keeping your website secure. If you want to stay top of mind with your patrons, you’ll need to have someone regularly updating the site with new content.
If you want to get the most out of the site, it’s also wise to integrate with social media and other external marketing and advertising opportunities. At the very least, you’ll need to make an announcement whenever you’re making a new push for donations. That all takes time — sometimes hours a week just for basic maintenance — and someone needs to be around to spend it.
The bottom line
While different churches may pursue online church donations for different reasons, or may have different needs, for the most part, getting a website to manage donations is well worth the time and money.
If you’re interested in getting started, GoDaddy has a wide selection of website templates specifically for churches, which you can use as the basis for your new donation platform. Once your website is in place and you start attracting online church donations, you’ll wonder how you got by without it.