Online Giving for Churches: Apps or SMS?

Online Giving for Churches: Apps or SMS?

By
Gnosis Media Group

Churches are always trying to find ways to improve their fundraising efforts. In terms of mobile giving, the most popular options are church giving apps and text to donate services. Both have their benefits and their drawbacks, but which should you choose?

Church Giving Apps

Church giving apps are custom-designed software that runs on a mobile device, enabling users to donate to your church through the app. The apps may include your church’s logo and cover photo, as well as other opportunities for your users to instantly recognize you through branding. By downloading the app, users can connect their bank account information and transfer money.

 

Pros

You don’t have to worry about handling cash and checks, which many people don’t even carry on them anymore. Also, the apps can be programmed to store donor bank account info, eliminating the number of steps involved to complete subsequent donations. Other benefits include being able to set up donation goals, custom offerings, and options to select where the money goes within the app.

 

Cons

While apps are great, they’re not for every congregation. Some people who are less tech savvy can be intimidated by apps. Apps require software to be downloaded to your phone, and many people don't want to add more apps to their phones. But perhaps the biggest drawback is price: Building one of these apps is usually expensive, and often churches have to pay for ongoing technical support from the vendor for bug fixes and upgrades.

Text to Donate

In contrast to an app, a text donation service does not require anything to download. With this type of mobile giving platform, the donor simply texts the church's predefined keyword to a short, 5- or 6-digit phone number to give a donation. 

 

Pros

As with church giving apps, you don’t have to worry about handling cash and checks with SMS donations, either. Text to donate is easy to do, quick to set up, and has been shown to be wildly successful for increasing donation revenue. Virtually everyone knows how to text, which is not necessarily true for apps. Remember, apps can frustrate users if they are not well-designed. 

One of the most ubiquitous forms of technological communication that we have is the text message. Texts are so easy to send that many peoples’ grandmothers and grandfathers are regularly doing it. (Have you ever been so lucky as to receive a loving “have a good day” text from your grandmother? :) It’s a beautiful thing to have a communication service that works across all demographics.

 

Cons

Some people feel that receiving text messages is intrusive. Also, there can be extra steps involved in completing a donation by text, as compared to a mobile app. This is because text to donate services don’t typically store your bank account or credit card info (Of course, the plus side of this not storing your info is increased privacy and security). 

Apps or Text to Donate: Which Should You Choose?

Every church could benefit from setting up a mobile fundraising service, whether it be an SMS donation service or a full-blown app. Both apps and SMS can activate your younger patrons, who tend to transact business almost exclusively on their mobile devices. If you want to motivate the next generation of millenial donors, you're much more likely to reach them via text than through any other medium. And older church members will be excited to have such an easy way to donate to your missions.

Eric Bryant, October 12, 2017