Monthly Giving Goes Mainstream

I will see advertisements for webinars, posts from experts, etc. advocating a cool, new concept, monthly giving.

Is monthly giving new? Not really. How many remember the old 3 minute-long commercial from “Feed the Children”-type charities that would challenge you thus:  “for less the cost of a cup of coffee every month, you could feed this child…” I spoke with a United Way CEO recently who lamented, “Heck, we invented monthly giving with payroll deduction and workplace campaigns, and now everyone is doing it.” Hmmm. There is probably a very good reason United Ways were so successful.

In fact, churches have been asking for support every week since the offering plate was invented, and most giving members placed a check in the plate every week or every month throughout the year.

Why bother with monthly giving? Besides the fact that fewer and fewer people under the age of 45 have checkbooks anymore or carry cash to place in the offering plate, perhaps a donor doesn’t have the cash flow to make the sort of SGO gift they want to in December. Instead, they set up auto pay every paycheck. For schools, churches, and other nonprofits, automated giving allows for members to give in a way that is easy, a way that does not allow for forgetfulness, a way to continue to give even when away on vacation. And, it helps create loyal donors who are comfortable supporting your mission on a constant basis throughout the years.

Next question… is it right? Shouldn’t congregational members want to drop a gift in the plate every week? I read a recent study by Thrivent/Barna called The Generosity Gap that noted, among other things, that of those members that give, and give generously, they are more familiar with and have used giving options like ACH/auto transfers than those less inclined to give. The study also notes, “technology may offer people greater opportunity to flex their giving muscles — including Millennials and Gen Xers for whom electronic giving is the norm.”

And consider the dad who recently told me about his Millennial children who have set up auto pay to automate their church tithing, and now continue to support extra mission appeals as they are presented. Seems like a great plan to me: tithing continues and sacrificial giving lives on.

Unfortunately, the study quickly laments that only ⅓ of churches in their studies accept ACH and other electronic giving. Sounds like missed opportunities and possible financial troubles ahead to me.

To conclude: is monthly giving new? Nope. Inventive? Not really. Important, you bet! And the cost to set up an automated, online system at your church and school has never been easier or less costly than it is today (I have some suggestions for those interested.) Is your church and school moving forward? Do they have a “Give Now” button on their website?

P.S. I know of at least one church that has giving cards with a QR Code for parishioners to make a bank card online gift during the offering songs. Great idea!