Fundraising is an integral part of how churches work. They provide spiritual services, community, and programming to congregants for free, and rely on generous donations and tithes to keep their doors open. When they have a reliable revenue stream, churches can give back to their communities in impactful ways.
With the large number of programs and services churches offer, there is a significant need for successful online fundraisers. An online fundraiser makes the donation process easy, reduces your workload, and increases your reach. Your community members will feel more connected to your organization’s mission and you’ll be able to meet your financial goals.
Even after the pandemic forced many churches to closely examine their tech practices for the first time, you may still notice gaps that need to be filled and improvements to make. Don’t worry if you don’t have a background in technology; you can still develop an effective fundraiser and plan events that will bring people together, whether they’re in-person or virtual.
Implementing your next online fundraiser requires a good amount of planning, but it can be made easier with the right foundational tools. Consider implementing these features to jumpstart your online fundraising efforts:
- Online Donation Tools
- An Engaging Website
- A Database or Church Management System
- Communication Tools
Online Donation Tools
Ensuring your church has a clear, simple way to collect donations online is essential. An online donation tool provides you with the donation web page, payment processor, and backend features you’ll need to easily collect gifts online.
With these features, your donors will trust that their payment information is protected, and you can be sure that funds will be safely transferred to your church’s bank account. On top of these great benefits, having online donation tools streamlines the payment process. Your donors will be more likely to give again, thus driving revenue for your church.
However, if your online donation process is confusing or difficult to navigate, you run the risk of missing out on important donations. Keep the user experience in mind to make online fundraising simple for both you and your donors.
To avoid these challenges, we’ve pulled together some online donation tools that may meet your church’s needs:
- Mobile-responsive donation forms. Your website should look great on computers and mobile devices. This means that smartphone users navigating to your site should see text that is easy to read and well-formatted. Graphics should also appear at an appropriate size to make donating a positive experience.
- Peer-to-peer fundraising. Empower donors to collect funds for you. Peer-to-peer fundraising is a great campaign idea for your church because supporters can make their own fundraising pages and expand your reach to communities far and wide. Participants can share their fundraising page links on social media and engage in friendly competition to raise the most funds.
- Text messaging. Make donating even easier for mobile users by taking advantage of text-to-give. Once you’re set up with a text-to-give provider, users can donate simply by sending a text message to a designated phone number. You can also send updates about your fundraisers or links that’ll bring users to your donation page.
- Analytics and reporting tools. Reflect on fundraiser performance by looking at how often your donors donate, the average donation amount, and other metrics. You’ll get a better understanding of where you can improve your fundraising strategy.
- Monthly giving program. Establish a reliable revenue stream by giving donors a monthly giving option. Your donors can select an amount that will be given to the church each month instead of on a one-off basis. Simply add this option to your donation page and set up a program that will automatically bill donors each month. Make sure to improve the donor experience by allowing donors to make changes to their payment information or billing date as needed.
A combination of some or all of these features can help your church maximize its reach and streamline the donation process. Donately’s roundup of the top online donation options includes a range of these tools and other helpful features that can help generate more support for your mission.
An Engaging Website
Your website is the online home of your church. You likely already have a site, but when was it last updated? Is it providing as much value as possible for your community and for you?
When thinking about optimizing your website, aim for a design that creates a stress-free user experience. Avoid distracting graphics or fonts that will make your donors want to click away. A great website should be engaging, informative, and make donors feel more connected to your church and its mission. For more inspiration on getting started, check out Cornershop Creative’s list of the 30 best nonprofit websites.
Always keep your supporters in mind when thinking about your website’s layout. Is it easy to find the donation page? Can users easily navigate through the different tabs or sections? Do you offer features like videos or live streams that make visitors feel a part of your church’s community?
Developing a marketing strategy is another important part of redesigning your website. Your content should closely align with your goals — specifically, the action(s) you want your supporters to take once they visit your website. What information is important for your supporters to know? How can you encourage donations?
Map out your target audience and tailor your website’s content to them. An effective website should have a variety of features to engage your audience. Here are a few different must-haves for a modern church website:
- Embedded calendars. Make it simple for your supporters to learn when upcoming fundraisers and events are taking place.
- Social media feeds. Share content from your social media channels, like fun Instagram graphics or Tweets with important links. This gives your website a creative edge and can help convert website visitors into social media followers.
- Volunteer signup forms. Offer an easy way for supporters to sign up to get more involved with your church.
- Livestream options. Allow supporters to follow along with your church’s events or services from anywhere in the world. This will help you expand your reach and receive more support for your church’s goals.
Additionally, your online donation tool(s) should be embedded right on your website on a dedicated Support Us page. Make sure this page is easy to locate and accessible on both computers and mobile devices.
A Database or Church Management System
An underlying database or church management system will keep your entire tech operation organized. A database collects all of the incoming information you gather through donations, event signups, and any other information that you input manually. This allows you to keep comprehensive records and study your past data to learn more about your congregation and how to keep them engaged.
For your database to deliver value, your other tools need to integrate with it, meaning you’ll set up or install a connection between it and another tool so that data can automatically flow to be saved. Not the most tech-savvy? No stress! This can easily be done with the right software. When choosing software, make sure to consider your exact technology needs and do your research ahead of time to find the best solution.
With integrations in place and more data to study, you’ll be able to easily identify which fundraising campaigns were the most or least successful. From here, dig into the specific strategies you used to promote those campaigns or events to learn more and continually improve over time.
You’ll also need a set of communication tools to ensure you can get the word out about your fundraising campaigns and programs. Take advantage of all the different ways you can reach supporters and consider where they’re spending the most amount of time. This way, they’ll know all about your upcoming fundraisers and will be more likely to participate. Consider incorporating a few or all of these tools:
- Text Messaging. Just like with text-to-give, you can use text messaging to gather more support for your campaigns by sending important reminders and links to sign-up forms. Your donors will feel more connected with your church through this one-on-one form of communication.
- Email. Your emails should feel personal and genuine. Try using the person’s name in the salutation and show your appreciation for their support. When you humanize your campaign emails for supporters, they’re more likely to read through your message and donate. Make a clear call-to-action request and include a hyperlink or link to your donation page.
- Social Media. Share content on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or whichever platform best fits your audience’s demographic. Your content should grab the user’s attention and stop them from scrolling onward. Consider creating graphics or exciting videos with important information regarding your church’s programs.
When possible, integrations should be set up for these communication channels, too. Each channel should use a similar voice and work together to promote your church’s brand. Be sure to analyze past communication strategies, such as your last text-to-give appeal, and reflect on how you can improve your outreach to maximize support.
With the right fundraising strategies and tools, your church will be able to continue meeting its goals. By developing user-friendly donation tools and a fundraising website that encourages and streamlines the donation process, your supporters will be more likely to donate again and again. Furthermore, an underlying database coupled with communication tools will give you a deeper understanding into your donors and how to best grab their attention.
As you carry out your next campaign, keep your audience in mind and frame your content to them. Your donors will be eager to engage and support your church community that’s given them so much in the past!