The 8-Second Congregation: How Mobile Giving Can Help

The 8-Second Congregation: How Mobile Giving Can Help

According to a comprehensive study from The Blackbaud Index, 2013 was the biggest year in charitable giving since the Great Recession.

In stark contrast to this figure is another one: -1.6 percent. That’s the amount, according to this year’s Giving USA Report, that contributions toward religious organizations declined in 2013. The numbers from the 2014 report weren’t much better. Giving to religious organizations grew just .9 percent in 2014, while total charitable giving grew 7.1 percent.

While it would be easy to attribute this decrease to a decline in church attendance, this fact alone cannot take full blame. Some have taken the approach that the decrease in giving is due to a heart disconnect from church-goers. If only pastors could connect better with their congregations, and if only church members would more obediently respond, then the church wouldn’t have this giving problem.

I’d like to propose a different idea completely. What if we as a society are more distracted than ever? A study done in January of 2014 revealed something incredibly alarming. The average attention span is now just eight seconds.

Eight seconds!

Based on that number, perhaps the choice to not give has less to do with a lack of interest or desire to be generous and more to do with the fact that available giving methods do not allow them to respond quickly enough.

What if Generosity Wasn’t the Problem?

Our society today is full of competing messages, endless distractions, and ultra-busy lifestyles. If attendees intend to give but do not have the medium by which they can immediately do so, they probably never will. The solution is to capture that intention in the moment. Giving should be as easy as purchasing a song on iTunes.

Attitudes and behaviors towards new methods of payment have changed drastically. Online shopping and on-the-go money management have instigated an increased demand for quicker and more convenient payment options. Additionally, the race for paying-by-phone continues to heat up, as evidenced by Apple Pay’s launch last month. Other than for stops at your local coffee shop that refuses to accept credit cards, why even carry cash anymore?

As a church leader, you must understand that the same preferences for online shopping and one-click purchases are shared by a majority of your congregation, whether they are attending on a Sunday morning, listening to your podcast on the road or reading the weekly church email announcements.

This begs the question, “How long does it take someone to give to your church?”

There’s a perfectly acceptable response at this point in the article, and it’s one of outrage. It’s easy to get frustrated by the ever-shortening attention span of society. We can wish things were different and implore those around us to engage better. There’s nothing wrong with this approach, but I’d like to present another option, one that embraces technology as an opportunity rather than viewing it as a distraction.

The Giving Technology Revolution

“When we make giving simple and take away barriers to generosity, churches see a fantastic increase in their resources, which is why we exist,” says Eliot Crowther, Founder and Director of Pushpay.

“[Pushpay] has dramatically changed our church,” says Matthew Barnett, Pastor and Co-founder of The Dream Center in Los Angeles. “Our giving has gone up 10 to 15 percent every single week,” he adds.

Pushpay is an online and mobile giving solution. The platform is built around simplicity to increase giving and empower modern churchgoers that are familiar with mobile transactions.

Remove as many barriers to generosity as possible so that giving, rather than waiting, becomes the easier choice. Churches who have successfully implemented such giving technology platforms are seeing average giving increases of 10-15 percent, which sounds a lot better than -1.6 percent.

Ready to explore giving technology? Here are five key takeaways to consider:

1. Offer a service that takes less than 30 seconds

Many of your attendees will give more (or will start to give) if it can be easily done in seconds from a phone. Studies show that 85 percent of users abandon mobile giving attempts if the transaction takes longer than 30 seconds. The average experience for online giving can take up to three or more minutes. If a mobile donation can be made in 10 seconds, churches are able to capture spontaneous givers, many of which include Millennials.

2. Make security the top priority

With technology breaches as the focus of many tech headlines, you want to ensure your congregation’s absolute confidentiality when they are offering you their financial information. Make sure credit and debit card details are kept securely and encrypted.

3. Be admin-focused

Make sure that your platform easily integrates into your existing church database. Your admin and operations teams will thank you for this! With features like automatic integration, every time someone gives their information it is stored in their profile immediately. Pushpay integrates with existing databases like Church Community Builder (CCB), Fellowship One, and Elvanto.

4. Give your congregation multiple options

While a mobile giving option may be the answer for many of your attendees, make sure you offer other forms for transactions, namely kiosks and online giving, and perhaps even the quintessential offering plate. Some churches have chosen to “kick the bucket” altogether by completely eliminating the offering plate, but you and your team must decide what is best for your church.

5. It comes down to adoption

Any move to a new platform requires top-down support and church-wide promotion. Make sure you talk about the platform regularly on Sunday mornings, assuming there may be new givers in the crowd, and use all of your digital communication channels to follow up with more information. With Pushpay, churches can promote a custom URL or text engagement to their congregations to initiate online gifts and sign up. From there, the platform pushes users a link to download the app experience where future gifts can be made securely in less than 10 seconds. This helps increase adoption rates for givers, especially new givers.

Derek Gillette

Derek Gillette is the Digital Marketing Content Specialist at Cisco. He and his wife share a life mission to create meaningful conversations through vulnerability.