People are relying on their phones for all sorts of everyday tasks—but it’d be tacky to pass around a credit card reader. And they can’t throw their phones in the offering plate. So unless you have a mobile or online giving solution, you’re stuck with only accepting cash and checks—which many people don’t carry around anymore. Your congregation has direct access to their bank accounts and credit card information in their pockets and purses at all times—but you have to have a mobile-friendly solution in order for that to matter.
Twenty-first century churches can’t afford not to be mobile. If you don’t have a mobile giving solution, you’re leaving money on the table every single weekend.
Here are nineteen reasons why your church needs a mobile giving solution:
1. The world’s biggest brands get their money from mobile
We already know that when it comes to most businesses, “There’s an app for that.” But what we don’t always hear about is just how much businesses are coming to rely on mobile payments. Consider these surprising statistics:
- Starbucks has more than 24,000 locations in 70 countries throughout the world. In the first quarter of 2017, they reported that 29% of their revenue came from prepaid mobile app purchases.
- During the busiest time of the year—the holiday season—70% of Amazon’s sales came through smartphones in 2015.
- 84% of Facebook’s ad revenue came from mobile at the end of 2016.
Starbucks, Amazon, and Facebook are spending a lot of money to research the best ways to make more money, and they’re all making a significant investment in mobile. Church leaders, this should tell us something.
By comparison, only seven percent of the average church’s giving comes from mobile devices. If many of the most successful companies in the world are putting so much effort into mobile—and succeeding—there’s probably something your church can learn from them. Mobile devices aren’t a fad. They’re a revenue stream. And the church can’t keep ignoring them.
2. Everyone’s already bringing their smartphone to church
When most people leave home, there are three things they take every time: Keys, wallet, and cell phone. Nobody wants to be stranded without a phone or unavailable if someone really needs them.
In fact, Scott Bales writes in Mobile Ready that forty percent of young people check their phones every ten minutes, and seventy-two percent of people are usually within five feet of their smartphones. (You can’t say the same about cash and checks!).
People are almost always going to bring their phones to church—they bring them everywhere else, after all—so if your church supports mobile giving, they already have what they need on hand.
3. Mobile giving makes memory a non-issue
When you expect people to give with checks, you’re asking them to remember to bring a form of currency they’re not using anywhere else. Checkbooks are awkward to put in your pockets, and they’re probably stored somewhere safe at home—which makes them easy to forget as you’re heading out the door. The church offering is one of the few remaining situations that requires people to bring a checkbook with them. And giving is already a hard discipline to develop—why would you want to make it more difficult?
Expecting people to give with cash is impractical, too. About twenty-five percent of Millennials have less than five bucks in cash on them at all times. But cash isn’t just inconvenient for Millennials. Unless people keep their money in their mattress, withdrawing a significant amount of cash requires a pit stop at an ATM—one more thing to remember.
Memory is an issue for non-mobile giving. If you’re relying on old-fashioned giving, you’re not just asking people to give money to your church. You’re asking them to remember to do it the old-fashioned way by bringing cash or a check.
With mobile giving, people only need to bring their phones (which as we saw in reason #2, they’re already doing anyway). In fact, the right mobile giving solution makes it so that if a congregant gives once, they don’t have to remember again at all. But that’s such an important reason to use mobile giving that it deserves a point by itself…
4. Mobile giving makes recurring donations easier for everyone
When your members want to give regularly, mobile giving lets them make that decision one time—instead of making giving a constant battle against memory or excuses. Donors can save their payment information and determine when they want to give and how much, and then your mobile giving app takes care of the rest.
Many people already set up auto payments for their bills, so they’re used to money automatically coming from their bank account or being charged to their credit cards, and they budget around that each month. Mobile giving helps them budget for donations to your church, too.
5. Mobile giving is faster than writing a check
Writing a check takes the same amount of time, every time. You might be able to shave off a few seconds if you know the date before you start, or if you practice your signature a million times. But generally speaking, it’s the same slow, tedious process every week or month.
Mobile giving is faster—in fact, with PushPay, first-time gifts only take 30 seconds. And if you save your information, it’s even faster the second time. Your regular givers can give before your ushers even start passing the plate.
People who have never given to your church are less than a minute away from becoming donors. And it all happens without the disruption of digging through wallets or frantically scribbling on checks.
6. Mobile giving is less distracting than cash or a check
For several minutes every weekend, your ushers weave in and out of the aisles while people scrounge around in their pockets for whatever they have on hand to give. It’s unlike anything else people ever encounter in daily life. And it interrupts every service.
Your regular attenders anticipate the offering whether they came prepared with a large sum of money or nothing at all. Is it going to happen after this song? This guy giving the announcements is definitely about to ask the ushers to come forward. People can miss important information, but at the very least, they’re not going to focus on worship or even that amazing sermon intro video you play during the offering.
And let’s not forget about the people who aren’t giving. For them, the traditional offering time is even more uncomfortable. While other people fish through pockets, non-givers feel like they came unprepared, or like everyone is judging them for not doing the same—even if no one watches them pass the plate without putting anything in it.
Mobile giving is far less distracting—people use their phones all the time, so it doesn’t draw attention. And since it’s so fast, people aren’t going to notice even if they’re looking. Not to mention people don’t even have to do it during the service. They can give from the comfort of their homes, or use recurring giving to make it happen automatically.
7. Mobile giving is more secure than cash
Mobile giving lets your congregation give directly to your account, so it presents fewer opportunities for donations to be misplaced or mishandled. Nobody has to physically take it to the bank, which reduces the likelihood that your offerings will be lost or stolen.
Mobile giving doesn’t physically pass from person to person on a platter, either. (Sadly, you don’t have to look very hard to find examples of people taking advantage of this situation.) And thankfully, mobile donations can’t be miscounted.
Mobile giving is the safest and fastest way to take money from point A to point B.
8. It’s deposited in your bank account faster
Banks aren’t open on Sundays. And before you take your weekend’s offering in on Monday, at least one person has to count it. Then someone has to physically go to the bank and stand in line. If your church has multiple accounts for ministries or missionaries and people designate specific uses for their giving, checks quickly make this process even more time consuming.
Mobile giving, however, creates a direct connection between congregants and your bank, and a good app will instantly confirm when the transaction occurs.
Checks can’t compete with that.
9. Checks are going extinct
Can you even name five things you use checks for? Business Insider claims the number of personal checks in circulation has dropped by 1.8 billion a year. If the trend continues, they’ll all be gone by 2026.
The world is already making a huge transition away from checks, and your church needs to have alternative ways for people to give. Otherwise, as the use of physical currency declines, your donations will inevitably decline, too.
10. Most transactions are cashless already, too
In The Definitive Guide to Mobile Giving, Tobin Perry writes, “The US Federal Reserve estimated that there were $616.9 billion in cashless transactions in 2016, which is ten times as many cashless transactions as took place in 2010. Consumers are choosing convenience, speed, and efficiency over paper money and checks. The study, “Getting Rid of Paper: Savings from Check 21,” by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, suggests that consumers are getting two billion dollars in benefits by making transactions cashless. As of 2014, more than half of all payments in North America were cashless.”
This trend isn’t showing any signs of reversing. Phones are even replacing wallets. People can buy phone cases that conveniently store their cards in the back—and those cases don’t have much room for cash.
You can’t depend on cash offerings in the long-term future.
11. You can give a digital nudge with push notifications
When your church incorporates mobile giving, you don’t just have one opportunity to ask people for money. Mobile apps let you send push notifications to people who have downloaded the app, and there are a lot of ways you can make these into highly relevant reminders to give—which again, takes only seconds.
With geofencing, GPS technology can be used to send location-based notifications. For your church, that means you can send people a notification when they drive onto your campus. A simple note thanking congregants for their generosity can make all the difference.
You can also send notifications as you get closer towards a goal, inspiring people to give your budget the little extra nudge it needs to be on track. People don’t even have to be in the building for you to remind them to give.
Going mobile gives your church more options for when, where, and how they give. The more connected your congregation is to your app, the more frictionless mobile giving becomes.
12. Your congregation is already using their phones as Bibles
Even if your church hasn’t officially embraced a specific Bible app, many people in your congregation are using their phones to read along during your sermons. Rather than discouraging the use of phones during the service, churches can help people see smartphones as a valuable tool for their spiritual journey—from Bible reading to digital giving.
If your members are reading the Bible on their phones in church, then a mobile giving app is just one tap away. There’s no need to dig through pockets or purses: The tool they need is already in their hands.
13. Giving can happen at any time during the week
There are 10,080 minutes in a week. Why restrict giving to only five of those minutes on Sunday morning?
Mobile giving takes the urgency away from the weekly offering by freeing people to give when it works best for them. Maybe it’s in the middle of the week, when their paycheck comes through. Or at the end of the month, when they’re already paying bills. Or maybe they don’t feel comfortable passing around cash or a check in front of people, and would prefer to give in private.
Whatever the reason, mobile giving apps mean your congregation can give any day of the week.
14. People are already comfortable using apps for everything
When tools make life easier, people use them. Instead of waiting for somebody to make their drink at Starbucks, people are using Starbucks’ app to prepay and save time. Instead of printing off directions to get where they’re going, people open a map app on their phone. And of course, people use apps for social media, reading, email, and more.
So if your church has an app that makes your congregation’s lives easier, they’ll use it.
15. Mobile giving makes your bookkeeper’s job easier
Every weekend, someone has the tedious task of creating a digital record of all the physical money your church has received. Like other kinds of online giving, mobile giving does a lot of this work for you.
Pushpay can even help take care of batch reconciliation, letting you add checks and cash donations to your detailed mobile-giving data, so you can process all three in the same place. Plus, your bookkeeper can see at a glance the total value of each batch, the amount of each individual transaction, and the transaction ID.
But using a mobile giving app isn’t just about making everything easier. It also makes joining a church a whole lot less awkward.
16. It makes the church seem more in-step with the culture
Is there a single other experience you can compare a weekly offering to? It’s a practice that’s completely unique to the church—and to the unchurched, it’s pretty bizarre. It’s like walking into a room and suddenly realizing that everyone else is wearing powdered wigs and wooden shoes. Evangelism is important work, and if your church service is supposed to play a role in that process, it’s worth getting rid of unnecessary practices that could scare people away before they encounter the gospel.
And since the general public is using cash and checks less and less, the offering plate isn’t simply encouraging people to give—it’s asking them to get reacclimated to an outdated form of currency and change the way they make financial transactions.
If you want new people to make your church part of their life, you have to engage them where they’re at.
17. It supports the larger church effort to increase engagement
Church engagement is about getting members more involved in your church, and it encompasses serving, giving, personal growth, and more. A mobile giving solution reduces friction for first-time givers (as we’ve said before, spending thirty seconds on your phone is a lot easier than bringing all that cash to church), and it makes recurring giving a breeze. In other words, mobile giving makes it easier to get involved and stay involved.
18. People can give to your church beyond your congregation
Mobile apps make your church more accessible to everyone, not just your members. There are a number of reasons why someone who doesn’t belong to your congregation might want to download your app and stay connected to your church:
- They belong to a congregation that doesn’t have a teaching pastor, so they stream your sermons online
- They’re looking for a new church in your area and wanted to see what your church is like
- They came to one of your outreach events and wanted to learn more about you
- They used to belong to your church, but moved, and they still want to support you
Having a mobile app means these people don’t have to belong to your congregation or attend your church in order to support you. Anyone can give from anywhere at anytime.
19. It’s easy to give to other causes and needs
People’s perceptions (and misconceptions) about how you spend money are usually attached to the things they see. For some, uncertainty about how their money is used can prevent them from giving. “Am I paying for a new stage design, or buying iPads for the worship team?” While your church staff and elder board prayerfully plan budgets and allocate money accordingly, that’s not always clear to people every time you take the offering.
One of the things people appreciate about checks is even better on mobile: You can specify what you’re giving someone money for. Churches can break down their giving needs into specific funds so that when people give, they can decide where that money goes and what it supports.
When people give through your app, all the giving options are readily apparent, so even the most cautious people can feel comfortable giving.