When it comes to giving, I want an online giving platform that’s safe, secure, and has first-rate features so my church can collect recurring and other gifts with confidence.
I want tech that’s crafted with excellence, is reliable, and that will scale well. I want tech from a business that provides excellent support and will more likely than not still be around in five years.
In the church giving space, there are a lot of moving parts and details to consider when choosing a platform. The purpose of this article is to take a quick look at the players, the fees, and the bottom line—so you can pick the best option for your church.
Issuing banks, card brands, processors, and the giving platform provider all take part in giving transactions.
Did you know there are predetermined card costs associated with processing fees that giving providers have no control over?
Since there’s risk involved in processing credit/debit cards—and because banks, card brands, processors, and the provider are businesses—they charge fees. Here’s more on what that looks like:
1. Issuing banks and each card brand assign different fee amounts, and the fee amount also varies based on merchant type and how the card is processed (in store versus online).
As an example, Visa’s rate to process a gift to a charitable or religious organization is 1.35% on the total amount of the gift total and $.05 per gift. So a Visa donation in the amount of $100 would carry a processing fee of $1.40.
MasterCard, on the other hand, charges 2% and $.10 per gift—$2.10 for $100 gift.
2. Processors then charge their own rate on top of the above amount in order to stay afloat. Those are typically charged in percentages or a fraction of a percent above cost, plus a flat rate per transaction.
The more volume a merchant (or giving provider) processes, the more negotiating power they typically have with their processor to pay lower fees.
3. Giving platform providers often then charge a rate greater than both the previous in an effort to keep their lights on, maintain excellent service, and provide new “must-have” features. (Sometimes giving providers try to offset this rate by having a setup fee or monthly subscription fee, or by offering some combination of the three.)
The bottom line
Not all church giving platforms are the same. When you’re evaluating providers, look at a variety of data points—not just processing fees. Here are three things to consider:
Ask questions about setup fees, subscription fees, and processing rates. It’s important to know what you’re getting into. Make sure the giving solution has an option for the giver to cover any processing fees, so your church doesn’t have to.
What do you get for the fees you’ll be paying? Does the platform include all of the features you need to be successful? Make sure you understand what’s inside the box.
Your church’s unique situation
One of the most important things to keep in mind is what your church actually needs and can implement sustainably. While a subscription model with lower processing fees may be ideal, for some smaller churches, even a minimal subscription model is just too much. Do what you can afford to do, and adapt when you have the resources and capacity to adapt.
Why we chose the pricing model we did for Faithlife Giving
We really wanted to create a way that churches could opt into 1) what was going to serve them best and 2) cost them the least in overhead fees.
For example, a subscription model doesn’t work for small churches without the funding to afford a monthly fee. But gift processing with donor-covered fees can be the perfect solution for even the smallest churches.
Faithlife Giving offers two options. What’s the best way to decide between them? Look at your church’s total monthly gifts.
1. If you process less than $7,500 in credit card gifts each month, it’ll save you money to go with our tier with no subscription fees. There’s a higher processing fee, but you don’t pay for gifts you don’t process. Plus, donors can choose to pay processing fees with just a click or tap—so you keep 100% of their donation.
2. If you process more than $7,500 in credit card gifts, you’ll save more if you choose the tier with a monthly fee. There are lower transaction rates, and donors can still choose to pay transaction fees.
We also give all features to all churches, regardless of size, because we want all ministries that use our platform to grow, and we want to grow alongside them.
Beware of marketing gimmicks designed to scare you
Business models are different for everyone, and there’s a best giving solution for every church. All you need to do is decide what works best for yours.