Why do we need commandments about online giving? Because troubling practices among different solutions negatively impact your givers, your finance team, and even your church’s effectiveness in growing stewardship and generosity.
By their very presence, third-party giving solutions can send the wrong message to your givers. But their practices can have an even worse effect. It begs the question: Should givers even see your third-party giving vendor? Here’s one reason they should not:
ONLINE GIVING COMMANDMENT #2
You Shall Not Compel Givers to Sign a Contract in Order to Give.
Imagine asking in-person givers to show some sort of credentials before giving. You don’t even ask that givers be members of your church, let alone submit to a background check or read and sign a contract.
“We don’t do this!” you may be thinking. “Freewill giving is a hallmark of sacrificial offerings. There should be no strings attached.”
But your online giving software probably does do this.
Contracts are counter-intuitive to freewill offerings.
When givers come to your giving page to leave a gift, most platforms take them to a very visibly branded third-party site, which can throw givers’ off. The site may contain an inconspicuous link to terms and conditions, without requiring opt-in consent.
Of course, many of us agree to unseen terms and conditions before using an app. So it’s the church’s responsibility to ensure that the app’s contract doesn’t contain stipulations harmful to your givers.
In some cases, we’ve seen this include:
Implicit agreement with lengthy, hidden contracts simply by leaving their first gift
Potential for background checks on your giver
Agreement to binding arbitration in case of disputes
Potential to refuse refunds, even in case of accidental gift amount
Acknowledgment that the third-party vendor has a relationship with the giver, not with the church (meaning any disputes must be addressed by the giver, not the church AND that the church will not retain giving data should they choose to switch to a new vendor)
Vision2 seeks to make online giving as personal as in-person giving
Giving is an act of worship. An online gift must be as simple and straightforward as dropping the tithe into the offering plate or box is. Givers should not see legalese or third-party branding that distracts them or alarms them. They should receive a gift acknowledgment from the church, not from a third-party’s DO NOT REPLY email address.
The online giving platform should operate invisibly, keeping givers on the church’s website, with a giving page that mirrors the church’s other pages. In the event of any issue, such as an accidental gift (i.e. one too many zeroes), givers deal only with the church, which contacts Vision2 for an immediate refund. (Neither the giver nor the church deals with a third-party processor because Vision2 is the payment processor.)
Vision2 operates invisibly and uses embedded give buttons to keep givers on your site. Our comprehensive giving and stewardship platform engages givers with a giving experience that reflects their desire for connection, impact and devotion.