How to Set Up Online Donations to Your Church

Churchgoer using their laptop to make an online donation to their church

Did you know that accepting tithing online can increase your church’s overall donations by 32 percent? And yet many churches do not have systems to support online donations. This leaves many potential donors without a convenient way to support church ministries. Modern digital payment methods are highly convenient, fast and secure. If you’re interested in setting up online donations, you’ve come to the right place.

In this article, we will walk you through the steps of enabling online donations for your church so you can make giving easier than ever before. 


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Table of Contents  


Understanding the Need for Online Donations

Research from the Blackbaud Institute found that in the three years prior to 2021, there was a 42 percent increase in online giving. Furthermore, their research showed that nonprofits of all kinds experienced positive online giving growth. This led them to make this statement: 

“Online engagement is a critical component of a nonprofit organization’s communication, fundraising, advocacy, and stewardship strategy” – The Blackbaud Institute 


Although they have been the standard option for many years, using traditional cash donations and checks for giving offerings in church have a number of limitations. An important issue is that with the move to streaming church services, many individuals have become accustomed to attending church services online. You may have online viewers who want to donate but don’t feel comfortable mailing checks or cash. Online donations are rising to prominence because they make giving flexible and extremely easy. 


Choosing the Right Online Donation Platform

Couple making church donation online

The first step to setting up online donations for your church is choosing the right donation platform. A donation platform is a software application and payment processing system wrapped into one. Instead of using PayPal or a generic donation system, a platform allows you to build a custom donation screen and form that suits your specific needs. The best online donation systems enable you to customize the donor experience to suit your community’s preferences. The platform is what connects your church, your donors and your bank. 

There are a number of factors to consider when comparing online donation platforms: 

  • Security and compliance 
  • User interface and experience 
  • Mobile compatibility 
  • Payment options 
  • Recurring donation features 
  • Customization and branding 
  • Fees and cost structure 
  • Reporting and analytics 
  • Customer support 
  • Ease of implementation 

You can use this list to compare and contrast different solutions to determine which is best for you. It’s worth mentioning that Vanco Payments provides an excellent solution for building customizable online church donation pages and processing online donations. 


Setting Up the Donation Platform

Church leader setting up online donation platform on her laptop

Once you choose the platform you want to use to set up online charitable donations, there are a series of general steps you’ll need to follow to connect the platform to your website so your congregation can make charitable contributions online. 

  • Step 1: Create and register an account on the chosen online donation platform. 
  • Step 2: Customize your donation page (if customization features come with the platform). 
  • Step 3: Configure your donation options (accepted payment methods, suggested donation amounts and recurring donation features). 
  • Step 4: Integrate with your pre-existing financial systems for tracking, reporting and membership management. 
  • Step 5: Implement security measures and test the donation process. 

The final step in the list is implementing security measures. With any online transaction, it is critical to comply with key laws and regulations. For instance, PCI DSS compliance refers to Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard compliance. This is a set of security standards created by major credit card companies to protect against credit card fraud and data breaches. Any organization that accepts credit card payments must comply with these standards to safeguard sensitive data and prevent fraud. The standards cover a range of security measures, including network security, secure storage of data and regular monitoring and testing of security systems. Organizations that are not PCI-compliant can be subject to hefty fines and other penalties.  


Creating Effective Online Donation Forms 

Man on Mobile Phone Participating in Online Donation for Church

When designing an online donation form, it’s crucial to keep it simple, user-friendly and visually appealing. Best practices include:  

  • Using clear and concise language 
  • Minimizing required fields 
  • Providing multiple payment options 

You should also ensure that your form is optimized for mobile devices. An example of a well-designed form is one with a clean layout, clear headings and an easy-to-use interface. It should also provide an option for recurring donations. 


Incorporating Recurring Donations 

Church donation image

Recurring donations are an important way church leaders can optimize fundraising efforts. One of the donation details that should appear on any form enabling people to donate money to the church is the option to set up recurring donations.  

Regular donations are a powerful tool for increasing overall giving to your church. They help you establish a reliable source of income and create a strong donor base. Most donation platforms make it easy to set up recurring donations by simply activating that option for your donation page and then configuring your preferences for the amounts and periods for recurring donations. Research has shown that many donors prefer the set-and-forget nature of recurring donations that enables them to continue supporting the ministries they care about with maximum convenience. 


Leveraging Social Media for Church Fundraising and Crowdfunding  

Woman on her phone, looking at the donation page for her church

Once you create your online donation page, it’s time to promote it. To promote online giving on social media, you’ll need to create engaging content that highlights the impact of donations and includes a clear call to action (CTA). Your CTA is key to building successful pledge campaigns. Use eye-catching visuals and leverage social media influencers to amplify your message. You can even do livestreams and set up chat donations.  

For successful crowdfunding campaigns, set realistic goals, develop a compelling story and offer attractive perks for donors. Keep all your donors updated on the progress of the campaign and express gratitude for their support to build trust and encourage continued giving. To learn more about how to ask for church donations, check out this helpful guide! 

Social Media Kit - In Blot CTA ImageEngaging and Thanking Donors  

Engaging and thanking donors is crucial for building strong relationships and encouraging continued support. Personalizing donor communications shows that you value their contributions and helps to build a sense of community. Automated thank-you messages and receipts provide a quick and efficient way to acknowledge donations and show appreciation. 

Church_Giving_Letter_TemplatesMonitoring and Reporting on Donation Activities

Church secretary writing down notes on online donations their church is receiving

Monitoring and reporting on donation activities is essential to ensure transparency in fundraising. It helps churches and nonprofits keep track of donations and provide donors with accurate information on how their contributions are being used. Tools such as donation tracking software and reporting systems make it easier to manage and report on donations, ensuring accountability and fostering trust between donors and organizations. By providing clear and transparent reporting, churches and nonprofits can build stronger relationships with their donors and ensure continued support for their causes. 

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How can we ensure the security of online donations?  

The best way to keep your donation process safe and secure is to use an online donation platform that adheres to the highest standards and is compliant with the most stringent financial regulations. 


Can our church set up recurring donations through an online system?

Yes! Any church can offer the option to make recurring donations through an online system. The important thing is to make sure the donation platform you use offers this functionality. Be sure to do your research before choosing your platform to know whether they offer this feature. 


What are some effective ways to promote online giving among the congregation? 

Engage your congregation with social media campaigns, email messages and even direct verbal communications. Sermons about giving money to church and why we donate money to church can go a long way to help encourage and inspire more online giving among your congregation. Be sure to create awareness and let your people know that online giving is now an option. 


How do we integrate online donations with the church website? 

Integrating online donations with your church website typically involves embedding a donation button or form on your website that links to your chosen donation platform. Most online donation platforms provide instructions on how to embed the donation form on your website. In general, the process involves copying and pasting a code snippet provided by the platform into your website's HTML code. 


Are there any fees associated with setting up online donations?

Different platforms charge different setup fees depending on your requirements and the features they offer. However, some online donation platforms offer free plans that don’t involve up-front fees. Then there are credit card and ACH processing fees. It’s important to compare these processing fees across different platforms and competitors to understand your true costs. 


How can online giving benefit church fundraising efforts? 

Accepting online donations can benefit church fundraising efforts in several ways. Most importantly, it provides a convenient way for members to donate, even if they are not physically present at the church. This is an especially valuable tool for individuals who prefer to attend church services online or who are unable to attend in person due to illness, travel or other reasons. 


Unlock the Secret to Successful Stewardship: An Unmissable Guide for Every Church Leader


The topic of money and giving money to the church can be tricky terrain for church leaders. Yet at its core, stewardship is about empowerment, community and growth. With this perspective, we've developed an eBook that reframes this delicate conversation into an empowering discourse. 

Our guide will… 

  1. Help you tap into your congregation’s natural desire to contribute. 
  2. Reveal eight fundamental rules of financial stewardship. 
  3. Showcase 11 untapped revenue sources that could catalyze your church's financial health.  
  4. Detail a foolproof blueprint of 17 key elements to design the perfect stewardship plan. 

Transform the way you approach stewardship and unleash the power of giving with our breakthrough eBook. 

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