Alternatives to Traditional Offering

Even when we return to in person worship there will be a period of time when the offering plate will not be passed during worship.

Every church is different. Not all of these nine ways to give will apply to every church. But every church can and should consider giving options beyond the offering plate.

Horizon’s Stewardship is sharing their Church Ministry Funding Guide. Use this guide with your financial leadership to develop a practical approach to key funding strategies to ensure you can fully fund ministry as we prepare for next steps in recovery from the impact of COVID-19.

In this eBook, you’ll learn how to:

  • Maximize recurring giving
  • Deliver effective offering talks
  • Engage financial leaders
  • Implement first-time donor strategies
  • Align your church budget with your current ministry opportunities

Tips on Asking for Offering

As pastors continue to develop skills in online worship, one area to be sure to include in a service is the “Offering.” Of course you can’t ask the ushers to pass the plates but you can invite people to hear about the life changing ministry that your congregation is doing in the midst of a pandemic.

For the offering in online worship you can share an inspiring story, invite people to be a part of this life changing ministry and give instructions on how they can give. (send checks, give on the website, text to give, bank draft) Close with thanking them for the gift and invite their prayers for continued ministry.

Online Giving to Your Local Church

You can now give to your local church on line here! Find out more.

Best Practices for Counting and Depositing Cash and Checks

In seeking to maintain dual control, having two people present (not related) in this extenuating circumstance a church administrator (or other individual) could open the envelopes (I would suggest that it be done wearing gloves) and another person connected by Facebook or Zoom. The administrator would open the mail on live video. As always there should be an independent verification of all giving records, deposits and giving receipt mailing at least annually and quarterly if you want to stop theft, not just find out it happened. With so many checks coming by mail, dual control on the mail is going be more important than ever. The same would be true of making the deposit, the administrator (or other individual) could do it with another person present virtually. This is another good reason to us electronic giving.

Online Giving

Our #1 choice: Bill Pay with your Bank
The donor uses the bank’s ‘Bill Pay’ feature to designate the church as the payee and schedules a one time or recurring transfer of funds to the church for a certain amount. What most people do not realize is that the bank sends the church a check by mail and the church then has to process it just like any other check it receives during the week. If the check is misplaced or lost, the donor is still out of funds as the bank will deduct the amount from his/her account regardless of whether the check is cashed or not unless the donor notifies the bank of the loss of check in a timely manner.

Our #2 choice: Credit Cards
The popularity of credit cards from the donor’s perspective is obvious. The donor does not incur any additional cost of using it to make a donation to the church. In fact, he/she may receive added benefits such as airline miles, cash-back or some other form of rewards. The cost to the church ranges between 2 and 5% depending on the type of card, card issuing company and the pricing scheme of the payment processor.

(One way to minimize the cost of fees for the church is to offer individuals the opportunity to pay the fee for the church, often they are happy to relieve the church of that cost).

Accepting Credit Card Payment

To see a list of some options for online giving go to: www.givingfees.com/#church

A Look at the Fees:
Stripe (non profit)
Monthly Fee $0
Debit/Credit Card Rate 2.20% + $0.30/transaction
ACH Processing Rate 0.80% + $0/transaction

Paypal (non-profit)
Monthly Fee $0
Debit/Credit Card Rate 2.20% + $0.30/transaction

Tithe.ly
Monthly Fee $0
Debit/Credit Card Rate 2.90% + $0.30/transaction
ACH Processing Rate2 1.00% + $0.30/transaction

VANCO
For churches with less than $20k/month in donations
Monthly Fee $10
Debit/Credit Card Rate 2.75% + $0.45/transaction
ACH Processing Rate2 1.00% + $0.45/transaction

VANCO
For churches with between $20k-$40k/month in donations
Monthly Fee $49
Debit/Credit Card Rate 2.35% + $0.35/transaction
ACH Processing Rate 0.80% + $0.35/transaction

Our first choice is PayPal which has nonprofit rates. Why?

  • Most people recognize PayPal and are comfortable using it.
  • No set up or monthly fees for churches
  • Reasonable transaction rates
  • You receive an email at the time of every donation with complete information about the Donor
  • You can “withdraw” from PayPal in batches, for ease in tracking and accounting rather than trying to match the transaction from your bank account to an individual.
  • Ease of setting up a donate bottom

To get started first set up a PayPal account:

Recurring Giving

Video of Discipleship Ministries Webinar on Recurring Electronic Giving with excellent resources for pastors and finance committee chairs. Use this link.

Planning Center Giving is a user-friendly site that works with Stripe to make using and managing online giving simple and quick. Planning Center has a base monthly fee of $14.99 per month and then they follow the same fees plan as Stripe. In setting up Planning Center Giving you will be asked to connect your Stripe account (which if you do not already have one, it will give you a chance to create one at this time).

Planning Center Giving allows you to:

  • Keep record of not only online gifts, but also check and cash gifts as well (which will come in handy once you’re meeting in person again),
  • Offer a text to give option which is very useful for those who may not be internet savvy and have trouble finding links or webpages,
  • Offer a link or embed into your own webpage or App,
  • Offers users the chance to cover the processing fee for the church if they choose,
  • Give users the opportunity to set up recurring gifts.

Sample Letters for Congregational Resources and Giving

  • Congregational Giving Sample Letter

    Congregational Giving Sample Letter

    Use this letter with you as an example for congregational giving. Please customize your letter according to your needs. Updated 4.7

  • Sample Letter for Congregational Resources

    Sample Letter for Congregational Resources

    Use this letter with you as an example for connecting and communicating with your congregation about current ministry, what is available to members and friends of the congregation and the needs of the church. Please customize your letter according to your needs. Updated 4.7

Suggested Text for Sharing Online Giving

Example 1

We also ask that you remember the church with your tithes and offerings. We depend on your generosity to continue in ministry and ask you to mail your check or envelope to the church. [Optional if your church has this ability: You can also give electronically through the church app, or on our website at www.yourchurchwebsite.org or by texting methodistoffering to 123456.]

Example 2

We know that the weeks ahead might be a financially pressing time for your family, and you may not be able to give at the same level for some time. For others who have the ability to work from home with a steady paycheck, we ask that you continue to give, and even consider whether you can fulfill a portion of your annual pledge in advance at this time, so that ministry will not be interrupted. For all of us who may be saving money by remaining at home, we ask that you prayerfully discern how you can help as others struggle in this difficult time.

(Thanks for Wil Wilson for sharing this resource)

Example 3

Visit (your website here) and click the “give” button on the home page. We use the company (name your company here). BE ASSURED that giving through them on our website is safe and secure. You will be guided through a brief process where you can choose to give through a credit card or bank account. You can also schedule this as a regular payment. If you have trouble using this option, please contact the church. You can also log into your bank account online and designate the church as a regular payee. A check from your account will be sent to the church on whatever schedule you choose. Finally, you can continue to send (via mail) checks to the church at (you church address here). Someone is checking the mail almost every day, so if you are concerned about mail sitting there unattended, rest assured! It is being picked up. THANK YOU FOR YOUR CONTINUING GENEROSITY!
(Thanks to Evan Rohrs-Dodge for sharing this resource)

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