Online Tithing for Churches: Does Giving Increase Engagement?

Tithing is deeply rooted in our religious traditions dating back to Old Testament times. Whether it’s through contributing to the physical offering basket or online, your donors’ generosity is vital. As a church leader, you know first-hand how tithing helps your ministry: maintaining physical spaces, sustaining ministers, and supporting your church’s mission and broader community initiatives.

But tithing isn’t just about financial support; it’s a catalyst for deeper engagement. Members who give may feel an increased sense of belonging and community. And that may be the biggest factor in the growth and future of your church.

Whether following the old English translation of a tithe–contributing a tenth of earnings–or using a different donation calculation, much of modern giving has moved online. This welcome transition to online tithing creates more pathways to giving and more opportunities for congregants to connect to their church. Taking advantage of modern church software brings financial processes, communication and outreach, and data analysis all inside one system. Now, you can track, connect, and grow seamlessly with intention.

The Shift to Online Tithing

Traditional, in-person giving has shifted to online tithing and digital engagement in recent years. Electronic payments and digital communication are standard in other parts of your members’ daily lives. But this change at church is fairly recent. A combination of factors sparked rapid transformation within ministries.

The internet and smartphones have made online transactions easier and more convenient. In just a few clicks, church members can now give from their home computers, a church pew, or their car, anywhere and anytime they feel generous and inspired. Pushpay’s dedicated mobile app puts convenience and giving at members’ fingertips. Congregants can give through your church’s website or by simply texting their financial support with Text Giving.

Tech-savvy Millennials and Generation Z churchgoers expect a level of digital connection similar to what they have at school, work, and home. Growing up with the internet, they’re comfortable with digital technologies and online transactions. Meeting them where they are—online—is key to keeping this generation engaged with your church.

One welcome outcome of the pandemic was the broad adoption of hybrid churches, from attending online services and touchless in-person check-in to automating gifts and event reminders. It’s impossible to appreciate the Church’s latest tech evolution without acknowledging the catalyst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Psychology Behind Giving and Church Engagement

As we explore tithing and church member involvement, we need to consider the interplay of various psychological, social, and emotional factors. After reviewing the following theories, church leaders can develop effective strategies that strengthen a sense of community among their congregations.

1. Social Exchange Theory

Social Exchange Theory suggests that acts of giving or altruism create positive feelings and help strengthen social bonds. These, in turn, lead to increased involvement and commitment in relationships.

For example, sponsoring a specific community project, like a youth mission, can inspire connection with other donors and those who benefit from the effort. This act of kindness may inspire relationship building with those donors as well as interest and involvement in similar projects. So, through giving, they’re not only supporting a cause, but also nurturing a community of like-minded individuals.

2. Social Identity Theory

According to the Social Identity Theory, our identity and self-esteem are tied to the success and well-being of the groups we feel we belong to. So, when people invest in the well-being of their church community, it amplifies their sense of belonging and identity.

As congregants give to their church and help meet fundraising goals, they may feel instrumental in the campaign’s success. Seeing the impact of that project fosters a deeper connection to their thriving community. When they can all gather together in an upgraded sanctuary, or see the lives changed after a mission trip or charity event, your donors will feel even more connected.

3. Social Capital Theory

Elements of our social networks, like trust and cooperation, according to the Social Capital Theory, carry value and enhance both individual and collective well-being. When people give, they build trust and strengthen social ties at church, leading to increased feelings of fellowship, involvement, and commitment. Their generosity connects them to other congregants, uniting them in their work towards the same goal.

Real World Examples of Tithing and Engagement Success

As we’ve outlined, multiple social science theories support the powerful connection between tithing and engagement. However, sometimes, the most convincing evidence is found in real-life experiences, showcasing how online tithing and engagement go hand-in-hand.

Emmanuel Church

Senior Pastor Danny Anderson committed to helping children in an orphanage in Haiti and set a fundraising goal of $50,000. As a long-time Pushpay customer, he regularly used online methods to communicate with his congregation.

In preparation for his outreach campaign, Danny added a new drop-down option to the church’s online giving portal. He also launched Text Giving, where members could donate by text message. These two simple additions helped Emmanuel Church reach $24,000—nearly 50% of their goal—in only 24 hours. And that was just the beginning! Within a few weeks, Emmanuel Church had surpassed their fundraising goal by more than 200%! You can read more about their story here.

St. Anthony of Padua

St. Anthony of Padua’s congregation was expanding, and to keep up with this growth, they turned to Pushpay. The results were clear and immediate: average weekly giving, participation, and total donations were all increasing.

When they launched their next campaign, Horizon, to build a new chapel, St. Anthony’s utilized Pushpay’s coordinated features to communicate the initiative and facilitate giving. Seamless tracking, updating, and messaging helped them not just meet their $6.5 million goal, but surpass it with an additional $1 million. You can read more about St. Anthony of Padua’s story here.

Strategies to Encourage Online Tithing and Engagement

In our increasingly digital world, cultivating meaningful connections both online and in-person with your church congregation is vital. A comprehensive church software like ChurchStaq simplifies tithing and helps your ministry connect with church members. Here are some touchpoints to reach and engage congregants:

1. Regularly communicate your range of giving options.

With online giving, your congregants can give where, when, and how they’d like to. That may be during church services, after an event, and on your website in the middle of the week. While you’re telling them where to give, don’t forget to include why they should give as well. Share updates with members on your fundraising and the impact of their gifts whether you’re at the pulpit, in small groups, or sending out an email newsletter.

2. Create a how-to video and offer in-person support.

This is a great way to engage your tech–savvy Gen Z and Millennial church members! Consider hosting workshops or sharing tutorials before and after services or online. Share these resources during services, online, or in your church calendar. With church management software, you’re able to create and track multiple access points to learn where your members connect with your church online.

3. Use your social media channels to launch giving challenges or campaigns.

Don’t just tell them, show them: use pictures, videos, and testimonials to show the impact their contribution makes. And always include easy-to-follow links to donate, or steps to give through your church’s mobile app or Text Giving.

4. Offer members peace of mind with secure giving systems.

As the shepherd of your flock, it’s your responsibility to protect your congregation from outside threats—and in our digital age, that calling applies to cybersecurity. With the proliferation of online scams, using a giving system you can trust is vital to your church and your members. At Pushpay, you can rest easy knowing that you’ve partnered with a company that meets high online security standards and is proactively seeking out opportunities to improve our security infrastructures.

5. Make the most of donor management solutions.

Every member of your congregation is on a unique journey, and understanding that journey is crucial to fostering a culture of giving. Donor management solutions can help you track and analyze these individual paths to further nurture donors. Through robust reporting and donation tracking, your ministry will unlock valuable insights into each person’s unique habits, preferences, and patterns.

Download the ebook, How to Engage Church Donors at Every Stage, to establish deeper connections with your church members throughout their journey.

6. Create a seamless experience.

As your congregants switch between digital and in-person interactions with your church, consistency is key. The transition should be smooth and effortless, and the best way to ensure that is with an all-encompassing, user-friendly church management system like Pushpay. From church announcements and service check-ins to giving options and receipts, funnel all engagement through one system. Each digital interaction is an opportunity to deepen the bond between your congregants and the church.

7. Use ongoing data to build for the future.

Seeing giving patterns and community interests can help you build effective new engagement campaigns and nurture future involvement in your church. Each number you see—donor, volunteer, event registrant—has a name attached to it. When you embrace that perspective on your church’s data, your charts and reports become tools to help understand the unique needs, preferences, and motivations of your congregation.

The Church’s Use of Tech Is Changing

As our digital landscape evolves, churches that embrace innovation will thrive, find deeper connections, and lead the way for modernization. We’ve seen that giving and connecting are intertwined in our world. While the wicker offering basket may represent a 20th-century image of the Church, a QR code to give online may be a more accurate reflection of the 21st century experience. However your members choose to engage and give, online tithing offers new opportunities to boost accessibility, inclusivity, and connections through worship. Embracing full-service technology solutions will help your church thrive today and in the future.


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