Why should I encourage people to give online to my church?
Churches rely on the generosity of their congregations and their communities to support their mission and ministry. Many people give regularly to their church by standing order or direct debit but others give in cash when the offering is taken in a church service or when visiting the church. People will not be able to give in this way whilst our church buildings are closed. This means therefore that it is even more important that those who can give are able to do so now, when our churches are in greatest need.
“I owe you more than my whole self, but I have no more, and by myself I cannot render the whole of it to you” St Anselm
Online Giving is a fantastic mechanism for giving that can enable a huge range of people to give, but it is just a mechanism. In order to be successful, we need to make it clear why we need people to give:
- We need to communicate the impact of giving (not the cost of the Church, but what we are doing with the money that people give and how giving is enabling the mission and ministry of our Church)
- We must tell people why we need them to give. During the Covid-19 crisis, many churches have lost income usually received from collection plates, visitors, regular giving and church hall lettings. We need people to give so that we can come out of lockdown and provide flourishing mission and ministry to our communities
- We need to enable people to trust us as a church. We must be transparent about how we handle the money given to us, and about how it is managed and spent.
Resources to help you encourage giving online
You can use this video on social media, church websites and anywhere else your church has an online presence.
You can customise this video for your church using the video generator on A Church Near You (ACNY). You’ll be able to add information about your church and your online giving platform to the video.
If you’d like to use this video without personalising it for your church, please find it here on Vimeo for sharing and download. There are several versions of different lengths for use on social media too.
Get started with online giving:
- Most importantly, if you haven’t got one already, choose an online giving provider and sign up. You’ll find a list of suggested suppliers and tips on how to sign up here: https://parishresource.wpenginepowered.com/receiving-online-donations/
- If you are using the supplier recommended on Parish Buying, you can find a video guide for how to get started here: https://parishresource.wpenginepowered.com/encouraging-giving-online/setting-up-online-giving/
- Ensure your PCC Treasurer and Gift Aid Secretary are aware of how and when online donations will reach your church bank account. Similarly, that they know how gift aid will be claimed on them. This process is different for different providers so it’s worth checking carefully. Our Good Governance Guide provides a common sense approach to issues arising from online giving in all forms.
Code of Fundraising Practice
As with all the ways we encourage giving within our churches, it is important that everyone abides by the Code of Fundraising Practice.
You must take into account the needs of a giver who may be in vulnerable circumstances or need extra support to make an informed decision. If you suspect that a giver lacks the capacity to make a decision, they should not be asked for a gift. If you discover this lack of capacity at a later point, the gift must be returned.
We have produced a simple guidance document for Churches, which highlights the values underpinned within the Code and some of the key standards that apply to all giving.
Directing people to your online giving page
For people to give, you need to ask them and then tell them where to give. Test different times and groups with different ways of asking. It might feel strange, but our experience is that people are happy to think about their giving at challenging times. Here is some wording you can use:
‘During this difficult time when our church buildings are closed, we are still a church; meeting virtually for prayer services and fellowship, loving our neighbours by offering practical support to the vulnerable, and caring for our communities. With the closure of all our buildings, and some people not being able to give due to the financial impact of the pandemic on them, we cannot receive all the gifts that we usually would, so we really need your help now. If you are able to give more at this time, please visit our A Church Near You page/ website/ Facebook page/email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how you can give. Thank you.’
It’s important to share the link to your online giving page widely. Try to share the link everywhere your church goes online, from your A Church Near You page, in virtual services, on your church website or Facebook page, in emails, newsletters and even WhatsApp groups.
‘Support St Mary’s Church Today. Please visit our online giving page by clicking here.’
‘While our building is closed, we need your support more than ever. Find out how you can help’.
Use this text to signpost people to your online giving page. This text can be linked directly to your donations platform by hyperlinking the text. To learn how to do this on your A Church Near You please check out our help centre article on formatting text.
Promoting your online giving page explainer video
Please watch this simple explainer video, which talks you through the different ways you can promote your online giving page.
Encouraging Online Giving on A Church Near You (ACNY)
Every Church of England church has an A Church Near You page, and this is a great place to get started, especially if you don’t have a church website or Facebook page.
- The Church of the Holy Spirit in the Diocese of Southwark have added a giving button to their ACNY page and it’s one of the first things you see when you visit the page. This is great signposting and visitors are just one click away from being able to give online directly to Holy Spirit.
Encouraging Online Giving on your Church Website
If you have a church website, add a giving page outlining all the ways people can give, including a link to your online giving page. You might also want to add a giving button or link to the homepage of your website so visitors can easily see where to give. Talk to your website administrator about the best way to do this.
- St Chad’s Church, York have added a giving button on their website homepage clearly directing visitor to where they can give
- St Stephen’s Church, Preston have included a great giving section on their church website, which clearly states why they need people to give, and what the impact of giving is. They also include contact details for the treasurer in case people would like to talk about their giving, which helps to build people’s trust.
Encouraging Online Giving on Facebook
If your church has a Facebook page, you can share your online giving link with your followers. (Find out more about setting up or managing a church Facebook page here.)
Asking people to give through a Facebook post is the easiest way to quickly use Facebook to encourage online giving.
|Sample text for a Facebook post: During this difficult time when our church buildings are closed, we are still a church; meeting virtually for prayer services and fellowship, loving our neighbours by offering practical support to the vulnerable, and caring for our communities. With the closure of all our buildings, and some people not being able to give due to the financial impact of the pandemic on them, we cannot receive all the gifts that we usually would, so we really need your help now. If you are able to give more at this time, please visit our online donations page by clicking here: link to your online giving page. Thank you.|
Upload your customised giving video from ACNY and share it in a post too.
|Sample text for a Facebook post with video: While our church building is closed, we are still a church and we need your support. Here is a short video about what we are doing and how you can help by giving online here: link to your online giving page. Thank you.|
Facebook Donate is a service that you can use to collect donations through Facebook directly. Although it’s a useful tool, as most churches aren’t registered charities, the registration process is cumbersome, and it’s not possible to claim gift aid through Facebook Donate if you are an excepted charity. We don’t recommend you use Facebook Donate, but promote your online giving page through some of the ways suggested above instead.
Church in the Park in Newcastle upon Tyne are encouraging giving on their Facebook page. They have pinned a post including the giving animation to the top of their News Feed. A link to their giving page is also shared during streamed services in the comments section of the streaming page. Here’s a picture of how this works
Encouraging Online Giving in Virtual Services
Virtual services are a good chance to think creatively about the offering within your services because passing around collection bags and plates isn’t possible. As well as talking about giving in the notices section or including a ‘virtual offering’, you can include your customised giving animation in online services to encourage those to give online at the point in a service when they might normally make a cash offering. If this all seems too high-tech, why not print the link off on to a sheet of paper and hold it up during a hymn?
- Cramlington Parish Church in the Diocese of Newcastle include this Giving Slide at the end of their virtual services highlighting a range of ways to give, but also communicating clearly why they need people to give.
- Kings Cross Church in London have been using this Giving Slide in their virtual services making good use of QR codes.
Reimagining the Offertory is a toolkit on Parish Resources that offers resources to help parishes enable their offering to move closer to becoming both a joyful act of worship and also a committed part of discipleship. Giving in the context of worship reflects the importance of giving in community. The offering can also be a wonderful time to give thanks for generous contributions of time and talents in your community, both inside and outside of your church family.
Particularly useful for pre-recorded or livestreamed online services are:
- Hymns and Songs
- Introductions and Sentences
- Offering Prayers
- The Diocese of York Generous Giving Team have produced offering prayers written for online worship.
Encouraging Online Giving in your newsletter
You should share a link to your online giving page in your email newsletter or digital service sheets if you have them. As your newsletter is going to recipients who have opted in to receive it, it is fine to include fundraising messages under the terms of GDPR. If you have any concerns, please consider reviewing your privacy notice. There is more guidance here.
Suggested wording for your newsletter:
|Giving to St Barts |
We are keeping a very close eye on the cost of running St Barts during the lockdown and have cut back on all non-essential spending, to minimise the impact on the budget set for the year. Thank you to everyone who gives to sustain the life, mission and ministry of this church. If you would like to join our planned giving scheme, please do so here/speak to the treasurer. If you normally give via the collection plate, you can make a one off gift by clicking the link in the below.
All contributions are very gratefully received since we have lost several of our regular income streams since being in lockdown, owing to the cancellation of weddings and other events.
Make a one-off gift to St Barts here (include link to online giving page)