The Big Boom in Online Giving

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Online gifts to America’s nonprofits are growing faster than other types of donations!

Online gifts to America’s nonprofits are growing faster than other types of donations!

That statement was the lead sentence on the front page of the recent Chronicle of Philanthropy. The title of the article is the title of this post. The most important question for your church is are you capitalizing upon this boom?

Just how fast is this growth? Here are some facts as stated in the Chronicle’s article …

14 percent rise in online giving from 2011 to 2012 representing $2.1 billion dollars in gifts.

Overall giving in 2012 rose only 1.5 percent last year according to “Giving USA.”

The Chronicle reported the following online growth of religious groups:

American Bible Society—68.3 percent

Campus Crusade for Christ International—22.9 percent

Christian Broadcasting Network—5.4 percent

Wycliffe Bible Translators—17.2 percent

Young Life—37.4 percent

What about the church? While the number of churches that are offering online giving is rising, that last definitive study on churches offering online giving found that only 14 percent of churches offered this tool. That study is now two years old and my guess is that the percentage will be much larger.

However, I would say that the church is still a long ways from seeing a boom in online giving. There are a multitude of reasons why.

Why are most churches missing out on the online giving boom?

1. Cultural unawareness.

The church sometimes is the last institution on the planet to become aware of cultural changes around us. While digital commerce is happening everywhere all around us, the church seems ignorant of the current trends.  

Another trend the church is missing is that younger people do almost everything on either a smartphone or mobile tablet, including commerce! So weekly we continue to pass around a tool for collecting money that people are ill equipped to respond to.  

Sadly, many churches are missing what is plainly right in front of them. Sooner or later we will wake up, but how much money will be lost between now and then?

Mark Brooks As the founding partner of The Charis Group, Mark Brooks brings not only a rich background of ministry experience but also years of successfully helping Christian ministries raise funds for capital projects. His desire to better personalize the engagement that each ministry receives from their stewardship partner led him to begin The Charis Group. With creative, outside the box thinking, Mark has helped scores of ministries achieve maximum financial and spiritual results.

More from Mark Brooks or visit Mark at

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  • J.D. Holt

    We have online giving set up for our church and are seeing an increase in electronic giving. Has anyone experimented with also using some of the independent apps like Givr? This has been suggested to us and we are trying to check it out.

  • david phillips

    You’ve neglected the cost of the service. The least expensive one I know is Vanco, which charges .50 per month to do it, .25 cents for each transaction and $25 per month for taking it out of your account. Is there anyone who charges a reasonable fee? With 350 members, that would add up to over $7,000 per month, if you could, ideally, get everyone to participate. Our church could not afford to give up $84,000 a year from the giving that takes place today.

  • pat powell

    David, I agree, I think Vanco is too expensive for online giving. However, it’s one flat fee of $20 per month for the online giving page, and then 20 cents per transaction. For debit and credit cards, they charge 38 cents per transaction and 2.65% on the total charge. It would be closer to $90 a month for 350 members if every single family used it. My sticking point is, I don’t want to pay $20 per month when it might not be used at all. We currently have members on Vanco but they submit a paper form to us. I don’t mind paying 20 cents per transaction for that, with no monthly minimum.

    I am thinking of setting up a page on our website that links to PayPal or Amazon Payments. I volunteer for another charity that used Google but Google is discontinuing the service. Both PayPal and Amazon charge nonprofits 2.2% plus 30c per transaction, but no monthly minimum.


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