9 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Use PayPal for Churches

As churches strive to reach new heights in their ministry efforts, digital giving platforms are becoming increasingly popular. Online giving is the number one way people give to churches. With the steady rise of online giving for churches, it’s easier than ever for members and guests alike to make a recurring donation and support your mission. The question then becomes, “Which one do I choose?”

Leaders often assume that creating a seamless payment experience for donors means sticking with what’s familiar. However, using the same app to send money to friends as you do for your ministry isn’t always the best option! If you’re currently using or considering adopting PayPal for your church, let us show you that there’s a better option for your giving.


Ways to Collect Donations and Tithes

Churches rely on donations from their members to pay for operational costs and fund activities that further their mission. There are tons of options for collecting donations, from traditional methods like cash offerings during services to tech-driven solutions like crowdfunding platforms. 

  • Cash offerings during services
  • Checks mailed or dropped off
  • Online giving portals and mobile apps
  • Text-to-give 
  • Cryptocurrency donations
  • Crowdfunding platforms
  • Prepaid debit cards
  • Automated recurring payments
  • Fundraising auctions

But one of these options will make the biggest impact on your church’s growth and further your mission: online giving. It’s the most popular way people give to churches, and it encourages more generosity than traditional methods.

Our Digital Giving Trends report found that on average, digital givers donate 33 percent more ($200 a month through digital means versus $150 a month from non-digital means). They also donate 44 percent more often than non-digital givers (2.3 times a month versus 1.6 times a month). That’s why it’s crucial to have the right online giving solution.

9 Reasons Why PayPal Isn’t the Best Giving Solution

Churches may use PayPal’s online fundraising and donation platform to handle the basics of online giving, but it doesn’t support a church’s deeper need to connect and engage with their congregation. Let’s review the 9 reasons that PayPal isn’t the best option for churches.

1. It’s not designed with churches in mind.

While PayPal can send and receive payments, it wasn’t designed with the Church in mind, so it lacks the vast array of tools and features Church leaders, staff, and congregations need. And with customer service that serves all of PayPal’s different verticals, church leaders and staff can find themselves struggling to get help when they need it most. Churches may also have to pay a transaction fee if a church member sends their church donation with a credit card, rather than a debit card or directly from their bank.

2. Donors can’t direct their gifts.

PayPal doesn’t provide any way for a church member to direct their gifts to a specified fund or ministry. Without directed gifts, donors and administrators both suffer. Donors aren’t able to easily give to the causes close to their hearts. And church leaders can’t track progress or interest in specific church projects.

3. Recurring giving is restricted.

While PayPal online giving accepts recurring donations, they don’t offer more flexible giving options like setting up recurring giving on a weekly, quarterly, or annual basis. The only recurring giving option donors can choose is monthly. This rigid recurring schedule forces donors to only set up their giving for once a month or try to remember to give throughout the month (a pain point that recurring giving should alleviate). Ultimately, your local church could miss out on consistent contributions from members who want to give smaller gifts throughout the month. 

4. PayPal doesn’t connect to offline gifts.

PayPal only stores the giving data directly donated through their system. For churches getting cash or check donations, someone on your staff has to manually export data from PayPal and import it into your church management system (ChMS). And that’s not a one-time task. It’s a weekly occurrence (at least) that eats away at your team’s precious time and bandwidth.

There’s Added Risk with PayPal’s Terms

5. Churches could lose donations during disputes.

If there’s a dispute on a donation, PayPal completes an investigation before releasing the funds. Whether it’s a pending transaction or your church has already received the funds, PayPal’s policy dictates that they will look into disputes before refunding them, which can delay your ministry’s access to important funds.

6. PayPal updated its Acceptable Use Policy.

PayPal’s Acceptable Use Policy gives them the power to take up to $2,500 from an account if they deem any activities to be “discriminatory,” “intolerant,” or “hateful.” And that’s $2,500 per activity. The biggest risk is that these terms—discriminatory, intolerant, hateful—are open to interpretation. A sermon series that sparks controversy (and important conversations) could jeopardize up to $2,500 of ministry funding every week that it runs. You may as well offer them a seat on your church’s board of elders! Their policy influences your ministry choices and puts money donated in good faith by people passionate about supporting your mission at stake.

7. PayPal’s reports may miss actionable insights.

Pushpay’s Donor Development Dashboard allows administrators to track individuals’ giving history, forecast recurring gifts and online donations, view new contributions, provide annual giving statements, and review transactions. That kind of insight makes work easier for your admin team and makes it easy for leaders to nurture donors along their giving journey.

Donors May Get an Impersonal Experience After Giving

8. PayPal sends generic donor receipts.

PayPal online giving can send donors an automatic receipt. But those automatically generated receipts aren’t customizable. Without your church branding or a custom message, it lacks the personal touch crucial for nurturing donor relationships.

9. It’s not easy to express your gratitude.

Between the inability to give to multiple funds, its lack of connection to cash and check donors, and the generic receipt that PayPal sends, it’s hard to properly say “thank you” to your donors through PayPal. Churches would need to handwrite notes or export data into their ChMS to be able to personalize their thank you messages to each donor.

Is Venmo Better Than PayPal?

Venmo is another mobile payment app. It was founded in 2009 and has been owned by PayPal since 2013. Since it’s a separate app from PayPal, it’s worth asking, “Is Venmo right for my church?” But just like PayPal, Venmo isn’t the best giving solution for churches. Here are a few reasons why:

  • It doesn’t integrate or play nice with most other platforms
  • It has a similar level of risk as PayPal
  • It’s geared toward sending money to friends instead of being designed for churches

Leave Venmo for paying a friend back for lunch and leave the church finances to software that’s actually made for churches.

The 7 Essentials for Church Giving Software

It’s not difficult to find an online giving platform for your church. But it can feel difficult to decide which one is best suited to support your unique ministry needs. Here are some essentials for your church’s giving software to get the conversation started:

1. Secure payment processing and data protection

2. A mobile-friendly, user-friendly design for your team and donors

3. Automated and customizable donation reminders and thank you messages

4. Efficient tracking of recurring donations and pledges

5. Reporting capabilities to analyze trends, growths, and results from online giving

6. Church-focused features, like donor management, recurring giving and giving statement generation

7. Integrates with your existing church software and tools

There’s a Better Giving Platform for Churches Than PayPal

Join the 14,000 churches that trust Pushpay, the best PayPal alternative, for all their technology needs. Pushpay Giving offers church-focused features like:

  • Donor Development Dashboard: Best-in-class donor development tools to identify stages within the giving journey and recommend next steps for each.
  • Recurring giving: An easy way for donors to automatically give and more accurately plan your church’s budget.
  • Experiences that delight: Engage donors with customizable thank you messages and giving statements to share the impact of their generosity.

Talk to one of our church tech experts today to learn how you can implement a world-class giving solution at your church.

At Pushpay, we believe mission-based organizations deserve great software. That’s why our team has developed the industry-leading technology for churches to manage their teams, simplify online giving, engage their communities, and ensure the success of their mission.


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