If that’s news to you, this alarming fact may give you new insights into why your slick online giving platform and mobile church giving app haven’t miraculously delivered more givers and total gift amounts.
Parting with our money is not always easy. Charitable giving is an emotional decision, so—whether in-person or online—givers often experience a little subconscious storm of anxiety. Some of that has nothing to do with your church and everything to do with their finances, their values, their time and their tolerance for hassles.
Therefore, when they expect your online giving experience to be smooth but instead run into unexpected obstacles, it creates a disconnect. The disconnect is both literal (remember, as many as 83% will abandon their gift before finalizing it) and figurative (their giving experience doesn’t line up with the warm and engaging way you treat them in person.)
At the church, you work hard to extend a friendly welcome to members and visitors in every area of their in-person experience. But on your church website, are you putting them through an obstacle course?
To find out, let’s compare your in-person offering to the way your online giving process treats your givers.
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Does your online giving platform break down TRUST by taking givers away from your church website to complete their gift?
Money is a sensitive subject and it takes time to grow trust among your givers. You want giving to be convenient, comfortable and trustworthy. So you do your best to make the weekly offering pleasant and unobtrusive.
The offering plate glides past givers—they don’t have to exert any effort to get to it. You also let people know about the boxes near the back or the option to give online. You’d even take a $5,000 check in person, right there in the foyer, if it was offered. You certainly wouldn’t hand the check back and ask them to drive it across town to have another organization accept it for you.
This is exactly what most online donation platforms do. Just as their donation is almost complete, givers are whisked over to another organization’s website to complete their gift. They wonder, Where am I? Should I trust this new site? This confusing and trust-breaking obstacle is the leading factor in a giver’s decision not to leave a gift.
Consider your last Amazon experience. Your purchase was completed right on the checkout page. Because online security is always on our minds, if you were suddenly taken to another website, you’d think twice about parting with your sensitive financial information.
Amazon’s one-click checkout has forever revolutionized our checkout expectations. The trustworthy retailer would lose millions of sales if they pushed customers away like this. Unfortunately, churches DO miss out on many potential gifts because their online giving software scares givers away at the last minute.
People don’t trust a giving experience that literally pushes them away from the organization they know (your church) to one they don’t know (a credit card processor). Your online giving tool must keep them on your website if you want to build trust.
Read more about the Lack of TRUST obstacle to online giving.
When givers support causes they care about with their hard-earned income, their top priority is understanding the IMPACT they’re having in the world. When they give online, simplistic credit card processors don’t educate or move them to greater generosity.
You instinctively know that your attendees are more likely to connect with stories that include an emotional appeal using images and/or video.
So each week, your announcement screens show the impact of ministry opportunities with vivid pictures and emotional videos. Your visiting missionaries connect your church to people around the world with stories, photography or items from the region they serve. Your bulletin board or monthly publication uses maps, snapshots, thank-you letters, and descriptions to bring your various mission projects to life.
Your online giving experience is typically nothing like this.
Some church giving software doesn’t even offer options for giving to specific ministries. Givers assume their gift will be just a drop in the one-size-fits-all general fund bucket. If givers are lucky, your website may—at most—offer them a drop-down list of ministry opportunities.
With no images or descriptions on your giving page, givers looking for ways to make a difference in their community will not be inspired to click around your website to learn more. They won’t get excited about volunteer opportunities or be moved to give more generously.
The majority of us are visual by nature. A single snapshot or an engaging video can provide viewers with relevant information and instant emotional connections far more easily than paragraphs of text. That’s why the adage “A picture is worth a thousand words” rings so true.
Think again about your most recent online purchase. When you shop on Amazon, you’d never buy an item without an image and a description, especially with so many options to choose from. Product imagery enabled the retail giant to make $9.3 billion in sales last year!
If people feel this way about products, vacation rentals, dating profiles, and restaurant menus, how much more important is it to connect them visually to eternal purposes? Very important, it turns out. A Case Foundation study showed that “78% of Millennials were very likely or somewhat likely to stop donating if they didn’t know how the donation was making an impact.”
Generosity is naturally activated when givers can explore the ways they want to impact their community. Choose a church giving software that allows you to clearly demonstrate the impact of each of your church’s ministry opportunities, programs, events and funds. Allow your givers to search, browse and click through to learn more, just as they do in all their other online experiences.
Read more about the Not Seeing the IMPACT obstacle to online giving.
For a variety of reasons, new givers may be moved to contribute to a ministry opportunity but not be ready to create an ACCOUNT where they’re required share their confidential information.
Relationships with guests and newcomers are tentative. You respect their need to get comfortable with the church and grow their trust.
You don’t pressure them to make a decision for Christ or require a formal membership commitment before allowing people to participate in your services and events…especially when it comes to giving. You may assure guests that they aren’t expected to give, but no one ever knocks the offering plate out of guests’ hands if they try to drop in a twenty-dollar bill.
Believe it or not, this is what you’re doing when your online tithing platform requires givers to set up an account before you will accept their donation.
For all online financial interactions, 23% of those who drop out of transactions cite mandatory account creation as a top reason for leaving without completing their gift or purchase. In reality, the number is actually higher than that because some people lump having to create an account in with another common complaint: “long and complicated forms.”
Reasons for givers’ reluctance vary. For many, they’re in a hurry and don’t have time for filling out extra fields. They just want to give and go.
Others may see it as an intrusion on their privacy. Some givers are still testing the waters of both your church and your online giving experience…trust hasn’t been established yet and it feels too soon to hand over their private information. They worry about how it will be used in other areas of the church. Will they be slammed with emails? Will their phone number be publicized in a directory?
Most successful retailers now understand the need to provide guest checkout in order to calm users’ anxiety and speed up the checkout experience.
Of course, if you’re purchasing an item that will be shipped, you have to share your address, but Amazon’s guest checkout option respects your privacy by accepting only a partial shipping address until you confirm the order. This allows you to compute taxes and shipping costs and change your mind without having shared all your information.
When you trust an organization, you’re happy to set up an account and enjoy the benefits of doing so. Until then, you try to protect your information wherever possible.
Demanding a commitment online puts limits on a giver’s generosity, and thus on growing your ministry impact. Opt for online donation software that supports guest checkout and lets givers control their personal information.
Read more about the Require an ACCOUNT obstacle to online giving.
Giving is a very PERSONAL decision, yet many church websites treat givers quite impersonally. How? By responding to their gifts with generic messaging that leaves them feeling unknown.
You’d never blatantly ignore someone who’s trying to engage with you in the foyer. Your church members and leaders genuinely try to learn people’s names, perhaps even encouraging the use of name tags to make it easier.
While some attendees and givers prefer to remain anonymous, most of your congregation is seeking community within the church. They may be shy at first but deep down they want to be KNOWN. Feeling known is a very simple yet powerful form of human connection. Someone remembering your name will almost always bring a smile to your face.
Even the smallest gift can represent extraordinary sacrifice and generosity. Personalized gift confirmations and email messages convey the sense that the church sees and appreciates their donation.
Givers can feel confused or just plain unappreciated when the giving platform they’ve visited many times doesn’t recognize them or they receive messaging from your credit card processor (an organization they don’t know) that doesn’t address them by name.
Personalization matters because givers have been conditioned to expect it by the brands they interact with online. A recent study revealed that 44% of charitable donors—62% if they’re Millennials—would be willing to donate up to 10% more for a personalized experience
When you revisit your favorite websites, you’re often greeted by name. Netflix reminds you of what you’ve seen and what you’ve started but haven’t finished. It lets you know when new seasons of your favorite shows will drop. It suggests other shows you might like, based on your viewing habits. Netflix knows you. And Netflix knows this keeps you coming back for more!
Like it or not, when it comes to personalization, Amazon, Google, Netflix (and all successful organizations with an online presence) have set the standard. Make sure your giving software doesn’t treat a giver’s meaningful interaction like it’s a generic, impersonal transaction.
Read more about the Absence of Personalization obstacle to online giving.
If givers make it past the major obstacles we’ve already discussed, their intention to give—and their waning tolerance for hassles—may not survive the common FRUSTRATIONS most church giving forms put them through.
Many of your attendees are struggling with emotional, physical, relational, financial or other trials when they enter your building. To some, even stepping into a strange environment feels unsettling. You know that external discomfort or distractions can disrupt what the Spirit is doing in their hearts.
To that end, your facility and services are designed to put them at ease. From your smiling greeters to your squad of volunteers overseeing hospitality and dispensing information, your clean restrooms, and your audio/visual team coordinating slides and lighting to seamlessly align with each component of the service, nothing is left to chance.
Remember, giving is often accompanied by anxiety about money, and smart givers are naturally on guard when they make financial transactions online. That’s their starting point.
Each time your giving platform adds a little bump in the road (often called “friction”) into that mix, a flicker of doubt arises and they press on the brakes just a bit. They hit another bump and press the brakes harder. At some point, they reach their peak tolerance level and call a halt to the process.
The most complained-about bumps in the online giving experience include:
If your current giving platform contains any of these trust-eroding limitations, maybe it’s time to consider a solution designed to engage the 83% of givers who leave your website without finishing their gift.
If you’re thinking it wouldn’t be easy to address all these obstacles on your own, you’re right. These are complex challenges, and your expertise is in ministry, not technology.
Read more about the Frustrating FORMS obstacle to online giving.
VISION2 eliminates obstacles with features that:
For your church’s intentions to be seen as authentic and build trust, your giving software must CONNECT with your givers in the same engaging way you greet them in person.
Vision2 does. Does yours? Sign up for a demonstration of what Vision2 can do for your church.