How Emmanuel Christian Center Saw the Percentage of Digital Givers Steadily Climb

17.4% growth in online giving over two years

What an amazing online giving platform. Customer service is amazing, and the functionality of the tool itself is the best we’ve ever experienced. It integrates perfectly with Church Community Builder, our database, for our multi-campus church. And best of all, it enables our congregants to give to support our church.
Jimmy Papia, Director of Business


Emmanuel Christian Center has engaged the north and northwest neighborhoods of Minneapolis/St. Paul for more than a half century. Passionate about reaching people who don’t normally attend church, the congregation describes itself as, “empowered to reach those away from God, grow in faith, and live a life of purpose.”

The church’s three campuses reach a diverse cross-section of the region. Emmanuel’s primary campus has an inner-city feel and typically has more than 2,000 people in attendance. The church’s Elk River and Maple Grove campuses are smaller and meet in suburban communities northwest of the Twin Cities.

Emmanuel Church focuses on providing a welcoming experience for newcomers—one where they can freely respond to the gospel and grow in their faith. The church’s small groups, community partnerships, and weekend experiences, such as Christmas and Easter, also play a significant role in its strategy.


Despite Emmanuel’s success, the church found itself battling a clunky giving platform when Jimmy Papia arrived as the church’s director of business. In response to the church’s difficult-to-use giving platform, Jimmy sought to use his years of experience leveraging technology to make the church’s work more efficient.

“In the church world, that meant my job is to give our ministry staff more time to do ministry and take a lot of the administrative overhead off their plate,” Papia says.

And when it came to change, Emmanuel’s online giving platform became an obvious place to start. The church’s previous platform consistently erred in reporting and caused the staff extra hours of work just about every week. But the problem became even more serious when the solution double charged Emmanuel’s recurring givers.

Papia and other leaders at the church realized they couldn’t endure a sub-par digital giving system any longer—especially when their community’s financial security was on the line.


growth in online giving over two years


As Emmanuel began looking at other giving solutions, they talked to other churches about what they were using. Several pointed to Pushpay. As they researched the platform, they especially liked the platform’s ease of use. In early 2016, Emmanuel took the leap and began to implement Pushpay’s giving solution.

Papia says the implementation went smoothly, but he expected that. Many vendors have great implementation programs, he says, but once you got in the general pool of other customers, it would often take a long time to get a response from support. But not with Pushpay. Papia particularly appreciates that the back end of the Pushpay giving platform works intuitively for those with a financial background.

“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve worked with a giving solution and thought, this was created by a developer who recieved no input from a financial person,” Papia says. “The developer may have been doing their best, but they didn’t actually know what I needed. That’s not Pushpay though. The admin portal of Pushpay is designed for finance people.”


During the past two years as a Pushpay customer, Emmanuel has seen the percentage of digital givers steadily climb. Compared with two years ago, an additional 18 percent of the church’s present day giving comes in through digital giving.

Emmanuel has also grown its recurring giving in the last few years using the Pushpay platform. Today, the percentage of the church’s giving that comes through recurring gifts is double what it was just two years ago.

Papia believes you can attribute much of the growth in digital giving and recurring giving to Pushpay’s focus on providing an intuitive and easy-to-use mobile interface.

“We use technology to make things easier so we can focus on relationships with people,” Papia says. “Technology makes a very big world very small. We take our thousands of congregants and break them down to person-to-person relationships and get the busyness out of the way. A lot of people view technology as a hurdle to clear. We view it as the opposite. We see it as a means to bring people closer.”

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17.4% growth in online giving over two years

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