By Gina Calvert

The Best Church Giving App Might Not Be a Mobile App at All

As churches search for ways to encourage engagement and giving with the best church giving app, a mobile church giving app seems like a reasonable solution. But before you start discussing mobile giving apps with someone who develops them — someone who won’t try to talk you out of it — take a minute to consider the pros and cons.

Return on Investment

PRO: Some online giving platforms come with a free templated mobile giving app. In that case, there’s no direct financial cost to recoup. Custom apps can increase engagement in some cases. A new option, progressive web apps (PWA) shows the highest return on investment because they are more engaging than mobile apps and far less expensive, with no set up hassles or expenses.

CONS:

  • Staff must manage, constantly update and promote a native mobile app in order for people to know about it and find it valuable.
  • Free mobile apps don’t allow givers to complete their gift in the app, instead redirecting them to a browser to put their sensitive financial information into a third-party’s website.
  • Free or low cost apps are templated (meaning, they look like everyone else’s and offer a low level of customization.)
  • Free mobile apps may perform poorly and vendors may not prioritize updating them.
  • The actual cost of a free mobile app is embedded into your giving platform’s monthly fee.
  • Expensive church mobile giving apps may not be worth the cost, as shown below.
  • PWAs have no downsides; they are used by many popular brands, including Starbucks, Pinterest, and Spotify, because of their advantages.

HINT: When comparing online giving software, if the vendor’s free native mobile giving app tips the scales for you, be sure to compare the giving platform itself—-apples to apples—-with other platforms that don’t offer a mobile giving app. Their app may be a lightweight add-on for the vendor to compensate for less robust giving software.

On the other hand, if the giving software is robust and comprehensive and offers a free PWA, that’s a completely different proposition.

Will Givers Use Your App?

This is, of course, the million-dollar question. If they do, it might be worth your time and energy to invest in a native mobile app. But do they?

At first glance, it appears not. Anecdotally, churches report only 1-3% of their gifts coming from native mobile apps. This should drive ministry leaders back to the ROI question, especially when considering a paid mobile giving app. Giving platform vendors know this; that’s why you won’t find claims that these mobile apps increase generosity.

PRO: Quality native mobile apps may respond slightly faster than a website giving page because the data is stored on the user’s device, rather than on your server, but that comes at a cost.

As we look at declines in giving and attendance, the impending transfer of wealth to the next generation, and expectations for engaging, streamlined technology that demonstrates gift impact, we believe our Give2 PWA is a step in the right direction. Learn more about this intersection of dynamics: What Drives Millennial Giving?

CON: People don’t use the majority of their native mobile apps, which drain their batteries, constantly send them notifications (if they’re enabled), or are ignored (if notifications are disabled).

A 2019 study found that 61% of people don’t want to add an app to their phone to communicate with a business. They just don’t use even the ones they have:

  • More than 20% abandon newly downloaded apps after just one use.
  • 77% never use an app again 72 hours after installing it.
  • The average consumer has about 80 apps on their device but uses less than half of them each month.

HINT: A mobile-optimized giving experience can be be just as handy and, ultimately, more effective than a native mobile app. (In fact, many apps are little more than than a mobile-friendly website experience.)

If your giving platform uses an embedded giving form that keeps givers on your website (vs. redirecting to a third-party site to complete the gift), the giving experience will be seamless and hassle-free. It’s also effective because it offers visitors the opportunity to do more than give. Second, your giving page is more likely to be found because people typically search for a church’s website on Google, not the App Store. And when they find you and want to give, they can easily bookmark your giving page and quickly return anytime to give.

This is true of our PWA, as well. Givers find it on your website and can be giving in as little as 3 steps.

Vision2 Mobile Options

If you’re looking to offer the convenience of mobile giving, Vision2 has three free mobile options:

    • Give2, our new progressive web app, is the next-gen mobile answer to challenges of native mobile apps.
    • Text-to-Give is another lightning-fast way for your givers to donate via their mobile phones.
    • Our giving platform offers a mobile-friendly experience for your givers.

Watch a quick overview video of Give2