“Online giving has come into its own during lockdown,” says Dan Bishop, Operations Director at St Saviour’s Church in Guildford. “Instead of passing the collection plate, we share the URL to the giving page during virtual services on YouTube.”
They have also used online giving in creative ways. Natalie Savage, who is a member of the congregation at St Saviour’s, organised an installation of a festive knitted display including a Nativity scene and the Twelve Days of Christmas. The knitted figures were gifted to the church by a talented group in Wiltshire who crafted them. Natalie installed the delightful display on the iron railings that surround the water reservoir on a popular walking route. Next to the knitted display there was a poster that clearly explained the need to give and included a QR code to direct ramblers directly to the giving page.
The campaign brought joy to the local community and received positive comments from residents such as “They‘ve made me smile every time I’ve come to Pewley with my dog. It’s the little things right now which brighten a day. Thank you.” Furthermore a local news outlet called them the “worthy Pewley knitters”.
The Christmas giving campaign was successful, grants raised £9000 and donations – (nearly all of which online) – have been around £4000. However the one change Dan would make next time would be to use a unique URL for the different places they promote the campaign so they could track where donations came from. But December accounted for £2,150 of giving – a lot of that would have been down to the knitted display.
St Saviour’s set up their online giving in January 2017 when they moved to ChurchSuite, enabling them to offer new accessible ways for people to give. “Whilst we prefer for people to give to the church via standing order, it is good to offer people options, especially those who are new to the church,” says Dan.
“Churches have nothing to lose, especially if they choose an online giving provider that charges a transaction fee rather than a monthly fee,” says Dan. An unexpected twist is that online giving has helped with referrals to giving via BACs as some people who are surprised by the transaction fee, request bank details so that the entire gift goes to the church or campaign.
The congregation at St Saviour’s are grateful to have the option to give online and there has been a relative increase in online giving during the national lockdowns. “It shows people you’re keeping up-to-date with the latest trends, especially as fewer people are carrying cash.”, Dan added.
St Saviour’s takes advantage of ChurchSuite’s option to set up different pages for multiple giving campaigns, allowing them to fundraise for different charitable causes this Christmas.
Another useful suggestion Dan has for churches considering online giving is that it’s not enough to have an online giving page, you have to tell people about and make it easy to find on your website. “There’s nothing worse than someone saying “I wanted to give to your church but I couldn’t work out how so I gave up.””