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Harnessing Technology to Promote Church Growth, Giving

Technology touches just about every aspect of our lives, including how we bank, how we find significant others, how we educate our children, and much more. Churches and houses of worship aren’t always quick to adapt to new technology, and in some cases, may be uneasy about it.

Harnessing Technology

Online applications and related technology are like any other tools God has given us ¬Ė they can be used for good or ill, depending on those using it. For churches, technology can be a powerful force for good, helping to provide information and support, engaging with today¬ís parishioners in a context relevant to their lives and making the task of fundraising easier and more convenient. Church donation software including giving kiosks, mobile giving applications, blogs, and informational videos can expand the mission of the church and reach out to parishioners where they are ¬Ė online.

Technology isn’t going away and neither is the church. Churches that embrace technology and make use of the many efficiencies and conveniences it provides will be more effective in reaching out to those in need and helping them with spiritual and other needs.

Churches & the Internet

While some churches and religious organizations are leery of the Internet because of the plethora of questionable content types and online malicious actors, many have embraced it, making the same choice Christians in the Middle Ages did when they embraced the printing press ¬Ė using new technology to fulfill the commission of the church. Here are a few facts about how churches are using technology:

  • About a third of all churches use PowerPoint or video clips as part of their worship service. These technologies can provide additional content and reinforcement of lessons being taught in the service and are appealing to more visually-oriented young parishioners.
  • More than 98 percent of churches who said they used social media in a recent survey reported using Facebook. Twitter was the second most used social media platform, being used by 77 percent of respondents.
  • About 92 percent of churches said Facebook was the most useful social media tool to engage members. Only about a fifth reported Twitter as being effective.
  • According to a Tyndale University poll, about 74 percent of church members have read the Bible in an electronic format.
  • About 27 percent of all churches make no use of the Internet whatsoever, according to The Clergy Journal.
  • More than half of all churches provide Internet access for their staff to complete church-related work.
  • Nearly all churches use electronic sound equipment in worship services.

Church Online Giving

Blogs and Facebook pages are great tools for outreach, but the Internet offers more than just an online bulletin board and mail services for churches. Churches can also harness the Internet to make online giving and mobile giving easier and ensure that finances are more transparent and accountable for members.

The truth is that fewer and fewer of us carry cash or use checks. According to the Washington Post, about nine percent of Americans carry no cash at all and about half of us carry less than $20 at any given time. Americans are also writing fewer and fewer checks each year. As older generations who relied on cash pass on, this trend will only accelerate as Millennials become the primary donors for churches. Providing a method of giving relevant to how this generation handles its financial affairs is essential to the fiscal health of churches.

Younger generations demand options for mobile tithing, whether it is via offering kiosks where they can swipe their credit cards at church or online through the church’s website.

Setting up online giving options has a variety of benefits, including:

  • Convenience ¬Ė Members will be more likely to tithe if it is easy. More and more Americans are going online to pay their bills and are enjoying the convenience. Coaxing donations may be easier if donating is easier.
  • Increasing donations ¬Ė Members may donate more if they¬íre donating money using their debit or credit card rather than whatever cash they happen to have on hand Sunday.
  • Making tithing easier ¬Ė Many online giving platforms allow members to set up regular deductions from their debit or credit card account, making regular tithing more convenient
  • Increasing transparency ¬Ė Churches can more easily organize financial information derived from electronic giving to present to members, making accountability efforts easier.
  • Increased efficiency ¬Ė Having funds deposited directly into church bank accounts causes less administrative work than depositing checks and cash donated by members.

Facilitating Online Giving

The technology involved with setting up online methods of giving or offering kiosks can be intimidating to many church leaders who may be unfamiliar with such equipment and software. Finding a trusted partner to help facilitate online giving can help ease these worries and create a user-friendly method of giving. Continue to Give is an online giving platform that works with churches and non-profits to facilitate easy, trustworthy, and effective giving. Continue to Give can provide churches with a variety of options for giving, including:

  • Offering Kiosks ¬Ė These discreet and convenient giving kiosks can be set up at church to give members an easy way to donate using their debit or credit cards.
  • Online giving ¬Ė Continue to Give can set up convenient giving buttons on church websites and social media pages. This will allow members to give from the convenience of their homes. Churches can also uses this option to facilitate giving campaigns for capital projects or missionary support.
  • Mobile giving ¬Ė More and more people are using their smartphones to conduct transactions. Continue to Give can print QR codes on bulletins and flyers that members can scan to go to a mobile giving page. Mobile phones are quickly replacing desktops and laptops as users¬í primary connection to the Internet. Setting yourself up with mobile giving platform can be an important investment in the future. The text to give feature is easy to use for supporters.
  • Donations to churches and religious organizations have been declining in recent years. According to the Wall Street Journal, churches accounted for half of all charitable giving in 1990. Today, they account for just a third. Incorporating online technology in giving can help to halt this trend, giving parishioners an easy way to increase church donating, and handing churches a more effective way to reach out to their membership.

Sources:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/robert-samuelson-the-best-stats-of-2014/2014/12/23/8c6b826e-8ad8-11e4-9e8d-0c687bc18da4_story.html
https://www.wsj.com/articles/decline-in-church-building-reflects-changed-tastes-and-times-1417714642
https://blog.capterra.com/church-technology-stats/

Photo: MLB

Posted on: 03/04/2015
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