I remember the days of stuffing cash into an offering envelope, then slipping it into the plate as inconspicuously as possible. (Matthew 6:3–5 really stuck with me, even as a kid.) Now I can give in secret anytime, anywhere through my church’s website. There’s no way I’d go back to offering envelopes.
So it’s no surprise many churches add the opportunity to give online to their church website and then leave it at that, counting on people like me.
But with a few simple steps, you can ensure your church website is set up to increase the likelihood of online giving. (In the COVID era, especially, there’s no reason not to!) Just like grocery stores see an increase in sales from strategically stocked end caps and tempting trinkets near the checkout, your church can see a boost in giving after investing just a little bit of time and thought.
Here’s how to turn your church website and online giving software into a power duo working for you.
1. Evaluate the first impression your church website leaves.
“Don’t judge a book by its cover” is probably such a well-used expression because everyone who’s ever browsed around in a bookstore or library has done it.
And the same thing happens with church websites.
Maybe people shouldn’t be so superficial when it comes to finding a church or deciding to give online, but they’ve gotten so used to a certain standard that if a website is visually off-putting or communicates poorly, they bounce.
As this article puts it:
If you were to have coffee with someone who was new to town and wanted to chat about your church, you wouldn’t meet them wearing a loud plaid suit, jelly stains on your tie, and no shoes.
The same concept applies to your website.
- If I’d never seen this site before, would I trust it?
- Does it have an HTTPS address instead of HTTP?
- Is the design up to date and appealing?
If you’re not sure, you can take a look at specific elements to consider.
2. Compare visiting your website to visiting your church.
Do those who’ve visited your church in person or watched your live streamed service get a surprise when they go to your website?
If there’s a mismatch—your website seems to belong to some other church they’re a stranger to—it can keep visitors from feeling comfortable sticking around your site.
To give a consistent experience, include these elements:
- Photos and videos of your church, not just church stock photos (though they can be helpful supplements).
- Written content that reflects your church’s unique personality, not just a headline that says “Welcome” and purely factual content (e.g., service times, doctrinal statement).
3. Make it easy to give.
The reason is clear, but the methods might be cloudy.
Here are a few ways to make sure there’s no unintentional added difficulty:
- Include a giving button or giving form on your home page so people don’t have to hunt around for it.
- Include a giving page in your site’s navigation.
- Make sure your giving form is easy to use—clean and simple, with no account creation required to give.
- Include a giving button or giving form on every page where it makes sense (for instance, your outreach ministries page).
4. Create confidence for givers.
Security is top of mind online, especially when it comes to handing over financial information. So to reiterate from above, make sure your site doesn’t look scammy and is equipped with SSL (where the s in HTTPS comes from).
Then evaluate your giving form and giving page. Do they look secure, with clean modern design and readable text?
Here’s an example of a giving form that misses the mark—it’s not quick to complete, and it doesn’t look secure. (There may be a note saying that it’s secure, but the image of the lock is backed by a white box that appears unintentional.)
Besides good design, there’s another aspect of a legitimate-looking giving form to consider: consistency with your website. If the look of your giving form matches the look of your website, it creates confidence that givers are still in the right place and that their gift will go exactly where they intend.
5. Don’t stop at how.
Take the next step—also take care to provide the why.
Yes, Christians logically understand they should give to the work of the Lord. But there’s a difference between knowing that needs are waiting to be met and seeing a representation of those needs or a reminder of what has already been accomplished because of funds raised.
So include photos, videos, and stories. Show and tell your church’s mission throughout your site. Make it about more than dollars and cents.
Which steps do you need to take with your church website?