How to Make a Donation Page on Facebook

Facebook is a popular social-networking website that lets you share information with others. You can create a Page on Facebook for your organization, such as a non-profit, to find and communicate with others to grow your customer or support base or to ask for donations. For the latter, you can create a tab on your Facebook Page that links to an external page for accepting donations. Try using these steps to make a donation page on Facebook.

Steps

  1. Make a Donation Page on Facebook Step 1
    1
    Visit Facebook’s homepage. Click the “Create a Page” link under the “Sign Up” button.
  2. Make a Donation Page on Facebook Step 2
    2
    Choose which kind of Page best matches the one you are creating. Choices include “Cause or Community” and “Company, Organization, or Institution.” Click the appropriate Page type.
  3. Make a Donation Page on Facebook Step 3
    3
    Select the best category for your Page if needed. An example is choosing “Non-Profit Organization” from the “Company, Organization, or Institution” category. Fill in the name of your Page in the designated field.
  4. Make a Donation Page on Facebook Step 4
    4
    Check the box next to “I agree to Facebook Pages Terms.” Click the “Get Started” button.
  5. Make a Donation Page on Facebook Step 5

    5
    Sign up for a Facebook account if necessary. Follow Facebook’s on-screen instructions. You will need to use a valid email address to complete and verify the account setup.
  6. Make a Donation Page on Facebook Step 6
    6

    Begin adding information to your Facebook Page. This will include your email address, which must be valid.

    • Click the “Info” tab, then click in the relevant area(s) to provide information on your organization or cause. Provide a link to your official website or donation page.
    • Upload a picture or logo to your Page. To help encourage people to donate, consider using a picture of those who will benefit from the donations or use your company’s or organization’s logo to project professionalism.
    • Post to your virtual Facebook Wall to update your Page’s visitors. Type in text in the “Status Update” box to add information to your Wall.
    • Use the “Links” tab on your Page to include relevant links to your Wall posts. A link to your donation page can be included in your posts this way but will get pushed down over time as you post.
  7. Make a Donation Page on Facebook Step 7
    7

    Add the Causes App or Donate App to your Facebook Page. The Causes app is only available to non-profit organizations that are included on the GuideStar website and can be used for fundraising purposes. The Donate App works for anyone with a PayPal account

    • Search Facebook’s Application Directory to find the app. Click on the app and then look for an “Add to Page” option on the left to use the app.
    • Use facebook.com/donateapp if you are ineligible to use the Causes App for your donations.
  8. Make a Donation Page on Facebook Step 8
    8

    Create and add a custom tab to your Facebook Page. The tab can serve as a way to link your Facebook Page to another webpage that collects donations.

    • Determine whether your website’s host server will host your desired content for your donations page. If it does not, you will need to find an app that will support the content for you.
    • Choose from free or paid apps and install 1. You may need to know HTML coding to use these apps. Examples are Static HTML and iFrameWrapper. Select the appropriate Facebook Page to install your app on if you administrate more than 1.
    • Design your own iFrames app for a custom tab as an alternative.
    • If necessary, create a donation webpage using HTML or other programming code, such as PHP. Upload it to your Web server.
    • Visit the Facebook Developers website. Click the “Set Up New App” link.
    • Name the app. A suggestion is to name it what you want your tab to display.
    • Choose to agree to the Terms of Service. Click “Create App.” Go through the security verification.
    • Enter a description for your app. Upload an icon to help identify your custom tab. You can also upload a picture for your app.
    • Fill out information to integrate your donations webpage with your custom Facebook tab. In the Canvas URL box, type in the directory where you put your webpage on the server, followed by a slash (/). Leave out the file name of the webpage itself.
    • Choose “IFrame” for Canvas Type. Select “Auto-resize” for the iFrame’s size.
    • Under the “Page Tabs” section, enter the name of your tab in the “Tab Name” box.
    • In the “Tab URL” box, type in the file name for your donations webpage. Click the button marked “Save Changes.”
    • You should now see a page with information about your app. Click the “Application Profile Page” link on the right.
    • Add your application to your Facebook Page. Choose “Add to My Page” from the left side of the application’s profile page. Pick the appropriate page for your app if you administrate more than 1 Facebook Page.
    • Check that your new custom tab is visible on your Facebook Page. To move your donations tab higher in the list, choose “More,” then “Edit.”
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Tips

  • Hire a developer to create your app if you need help creating a custom tab to ask for donations.
  • Another way to create a Facebook Page is to find the Pages webpage on the Facebook website, then click the “Create Page” link.
  • Try to limit status updates to 1 or 2 times a day so people who follow your Page, called Fans, will not be overwhelmed by your posts.
  • You can move most Facebook tabs on your Page to increase their visibility or match priority of use. Tabs cannot be placed higher than your Wall and Info tabs, however.
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Warnings

  • You cannot change the order of the Wall and Info tabs.

Things You’ll Need

  • Facebook website
  • Facebook Page creation
  • Email address
  • Facebook account
  • Page information
  • Wall posts and links
  • Causes app or similar app
  • External donation webpage
  • iFrames app
  • Custom tab to link to donation page
  • App developer

Political donations, now through a Tweet

When people have conversations about politics, they have them on Twitter. It’s what voters learn and share in these conversations that routinely motivates political action. That’s why donations platform Kontribute.it is making it easier for Twitter users to actively support candidates and causes.

We’ve teamed up with Stripe to enable anyone in the US to make a donation directly to a US to a political campaign or other fundraising cause through a Tweet, starting today. This is the fastest, easiest way to make an online donation, and the most effective way for organizations to execute tailored digital fundraising, in real time, on the platform where Americans are already talking about the 2016 election and the issues they are passionate about.

How it works for campaigns

  • Candidates can sign up for an account through Kontribute by visiting https://kontribute.it, selecting “Signup” and setting up your first fundraising campaign.
  • Once your campaign has been setup and you’ve connected your group’s twitter account, it can Tweet a unique URL to request donations from supporters
  • The Tweet will automatically include an image with a “contribute” button, making it easy for anyone to click to donate directly through the Tweet

How it works for donors

  • When you see a Tweet containing a candidate’s contribute image and hit the “contribute” button, the Tweet will enable you to select a donation amount and add your debit card and FEC required information
  • You’ll then have the option to Tweet the candidate’s Kontribute link to your followers or return to where you were in Twitter

Every day, voters, politicians, and government officials all over the world use Twitter to communicate in creative ways that enrich public discourse and increase government access and accountability.

To complement this process, Twitter has developed tools like country-specific notifications that remind people to register to vote, richer Tweets that make email collection for campaigns easier, and real-time audience tailoring so advertisers can better identify and target relevant conversations.

By partnering with Kontribute to enable donations through Tweets, and as the 2016 election season heats up, we’ve launched these tools through which citizens can raise their voices to champion causes and candidates they support.

The stealthy, Eric Schmidt-backed startup that’s working to put Hillary Clinton in the White House

An under-the-radar startup funded by billionaire Eric Schmidt has become a major technology vendor for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, underscoring the bonds between Silicon Valley and Democratic politics.

The Groundwork, according to Democratic campaign operatives and technologists, is part of efforts by Schmidt—the executive chairman of Google parent-company Alphabet—to ensure that Clinton has the engineering talent needed to win the election. And it is one of a series of quiet investments by Schmidt that recognize how modern political campaigns are run, with data analytics and digital outreach as vital ingredients that allow candidates to find, court, and turn out critical voter blocs.

But campaigns—lacking stock options and long-term job security—find it hard to attract the elite engineering talent that Facebook, Google, and countless startups rely on. That’s also part of the problem that Schmidt and the Groundwork are helping Clinton’s team to solve.

The Groundwork is one of the Clinton campaign’s biggest vendors, billing it for more than $177,000 in the second quarter of 2015, according to federal filings. Yet many political operatives know little about it. Its website consists entirely of a grey-on-black triangle logo that suggests “the digital roots of change” while also looking vaguely like the Illuminati symbol:

“We’re not trying to obfuscate anything, we’re just trying to keep our heads down and do stuff,” says Michael Slaby, who runs the Groundwork. He was the chief technology officer for president Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, a top digital executive for Obama 2012, and the former chief technology strategist for TomorrowVentures, Schmidt’s angel investment fund.

He explained that the Groundwork and its parent company, Chicago-based Timshel—which according to its website is named for a Hebrew word meaning “you may” and is devoted to “helping humanity solve our most difficult social, civic, and humanitarian challenges”—are “all one project, with the same backers,” whom he declined to name.

Schmidt did not respond to several requests for comment. But several Democratic political operatives and technologists, who would only speak anonymously to avoid offending Schmidt and the Clinton campaign, confirmed that the Groundwork is funded at least in part by the Alphabet chairman.

Schmidt did not respond to several requests for comment. But several Democratic political operatives and technologists, who would only speak anonymously to avoid offending Schmidt and the Clinton campaign, confirmed that the Groundwork is funded at least in part by the Alphabet chairman.

“There are a lot of people who can write big checks,” Slaby says. “Eric recognizes how the technology he’s been building his whole career can be applied to different spaces. The idea of tech as a force multiplier is something he deeply understands.”
The technology that helped re-elect Obama

Although Obama’s technology staff downplays credit for his election victories, there’s no doubt they played a crucial role. One former Obama staffer, Elan Kriegel, who now leads analytics for the Clinton campaign, suggested the technology accounted for perhaps two percentage points of the campaign’s four percent margin of victory in 2012.
The 2012 campaign’s analytics team constructed a complex model of the electorate to identify 15 million undecided voters that could be swayed to Obama’s side. They drew on databases which compiled a comprehensive record of voters’ interactions with the campaign—Facebook pages liked, volunteer contacts, events attended, money donated—and assigned them a score based on how strongly they supported Obama.

Those carefully constructed models and databases paid dividends for everything from advertising and campaign fundraising emails—which were rigorously A/B tested to determine the optimum wording and design (subject lines that said “Hey!” were found to be annoying but effective)—to voter polling and get-out-the-vote efforts on election day.

Members of the Obama tech team, including Michael Slaby and Harper Reed, with Eric Schmidt in 2012.(Harper Reed)
Perhaps the standout innovation from the Obama campaign was known as “Optimizer,” a tool that allowed the campaign to deploy carefully targeted television ads. Rather than rely on broad demographic data about programs and time slots, the Obama tech team accessed detailed information from TV set-top boxes to identify the most cost-efficient ways to reach hard-to-reach voters. The campaign’s top media consultant, Jim Margolis—now Clinton’s top media consultant—estimates Optimizer saved the campaign perhaps $40 million.
After the campaign, Optimizer became the cornerstone of a new startup called Civis that spun out of the Obama campaign—and it had its genesis in an election day visit by Schmidt to Chicago.
From election day to startup

As the internal polling numbers rolled in, the boiler room full of campaign staff and White House aides also included a tech executive: Schmidt, whose financial support and advice to the campaign made him an unofficial fixture. With the campaign drawing to its victorious conclusion, Schmidt was shifting into another mode: Talent-hunter and startup funder.
Schmidt and Obama at a White House meeting in 2009.
Schmidt and Obama at a White House meeting in 2009.(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
When the campaign’s analytics team declared victory at 2pm—hours before voting ended—by comparing early results to their model, its chief Dan Wagner recalls that Schmidt walked up to him and asked two questions: “Who are you? And what algorithms are you using?”
Wagner helped develop the Obama team’s ground-breaking approach to analytics in 2008, and made further refinements in 2012. But he says it was Schmidt who saw the commercial potential for the project—not just for political campaigns, but as a way to help private-sector companies decide how to effectively allocate their marketing budgets.
“I didn’t have any commercial intentions for anything, I was just trying to survive and elect Barack Obama,” Wagner says.

Nevertheless, immediately after the election, Schmidt backed Wagner and other members of his campaign team by becoming the sole investor in Civis, their analytics startup. Schmidt also invested in cir.cl, a social shopping startup run by Obama 2012 alumnus Carol Davidsen, who played a key role in the creation of Optimizer. (If you’re keeping score, that makes three Schmidt-funded startups run by ex-Obama staffers: Civis, cir.cl, and the Groundwork.)
What Wagner’s team built during the campaign, despite its innovativeness, was fairly clunky. “The thing that we built was pretty much a piece of junk, made of plywood in our garage,” Wagner says.
That’s because analyzing giant troves of data, knitting together disparate databases, and making it all work seamlessly is a tricky business, especially under the low-resource, high-pressure conditions of a presidential campaign. Building that tech infrastructure requires the most expensive kind of engineering talent, working under punishing time constraints. For Obama’s 2012 team, Slaby hired a developer named Harper Reed to serve as the campaign’s chief technology officer and build the campaign’s tech underpinnings.
Now Clinton’s campaign needs to build that infrastructure for themselves—or, even better, have a company like the Groundwork help build it for them. This time around, Schmidt backed the startup before the campaign even started.
Like Salesforce.com, for politics

So what does the Groundwork do? The company and Clinton’s campaign are understandably leery of disclosing details.

According to campaign finance disclosures, Clinton’s campaign is the Groundwork’s only political client. Its employees are mostly back-end software developers with experience at blue-chip tech firms like Netflix, Dreamhost, and Google.
Clinton and Schmidt at a 2014 Google event just days after the Groundwork was incorporated.Clinton and Schmidt at a 2014 Google event, just days after the Groundwork was incorporated.(Google)
The firm was formed in June 2014, shortly after Clinton released a memoir about her time as US secretary of state and began a media blitz that signaled her intent to run for president—including an appearance with Schmidt at Google headquarters—though she did not officially announce her run until the spring of 2015.
Democratic political operatives and technologists said that the Groundwork’s focus is on building a platform that can perform the critical functions of modern campaigning.
These sources tell Quartz that the Groundwork has been tasked with building the technological infrastructure to ingest massive amounts of information about voters, and develop tools that will help the campaign target them for fundraising, advertising, outreach, and get-out-the-vote efforts—essentially to create a political version of a customer relationship management (CRM) system, like the one that Salesforce.com runs for commerce, but for prospective voters.
“They are a technology platform company, not all that dissimilar from a Blue State Digital,” a Clinton campaign staffer told Quartz. Blue State grew out of Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential run and has become a cornerstone technology contractor for the Democratic Party and allied groups. “They provide a suite of services, donation, forum builders, things like that.”
The range of tasks anticipated for this platform—including volunteer coordination, fundraising, social-media marketing and events—makes it seem like the spiritual heir of the platform that Reed’s team built to integrate the Obama campaign’s various vendors, tools and data sources, which was called Narwhal.
That kind of database integration and number crunching may not sound terribly exciting. But building a list is the foundation of any campaign, and doing so digitally, with analytics and communications tools scaling across a nationwide campaign—with hundreds of paid staff and tens of thousands of volunteers—is no easy job, even for experienced engineers.
And it is an essential one for modern-day campaigns. The Romney campaign’s attempt to build a tool to compete with Narwhal (they named it Orca, the Narwhal’s natural enemy) famously fell apart on election day.
No Drama…Clinton?

Hillary Clinton’s last presidential run, like many ultimately unsuccessful campaigns, was hobbled by infighting among her consultants and staff. Even in the “no-drama Obama” 2012 team, the team had its own conflicts, with the engineers charged with building digital tools butting heads with staff charged with the campaign’s digital strategy.

Veterans of Obama’s campaign say Clinton’s hierarchy under campaign manager Robbie Mook is better organized to avoid such conflicts this time around, with chief digital strategist Teddy Goff over-seeing both the digital director Katie Dowd and Hannon, the highly regarded former Google executive.

“Hiring Steph may have been Hillary’s sharpest move to date,” says venture capitalist and Democratic fundraiser Chris Sacca, who tells Quartz she is “one of the most gifted and diligent technologists I have ever worked with.”

One source says Hannon is trying to reduce the campaign’s reliance on the Groundwork. But Schmidt’s stature in Silicon Valley, and his status as a major Clinton backer, may complicate any efforts to constrain the Groundwork’s involvement, and distort the typical balance of power between the campaign and a key vendor.

“Imagine you’re a mid-level person inside the campaign, or even the campaign manager,” one veteran Democratic operative says. “Who’s going to say, ‘Hey, billionaire smartest tech guy on the planet, thanks but no thanks?’”

Are startups the new Super PACs?

Today, corporations and wealthy donors have many ways to seek influence with politicians. While their donations to campaigns are limited to a maximum of $5,000 or hundreds of thousands to national party committees, they can also now set up Super PACs with unlimited money for political activities, so long as they don’t coordinate with the official campaigns.

That unlimited money is all well and good for many things a campaign needs—TV advertising, for example, and even field work. But if you want to help make a campaign more tech-savvy, it gets harder: a super PAC, nominally independent under byzantine campaign finance laws, can’t pay for tech infrastructure.

That’s the beauty of the Groundwork: Instead of putting money behind a Super PAC that can’t coordinate with the campaign, a well-connected donor like Schmidt can fund a startup to do top-grade work for a campaign, with the financial outlay structured as an investment, not a donation.

Schmidt, a major political donor, did not give money to Clinton’s campaign in the first half of this year, though a campaign official says he has visited the campaign’s Brooklyn headquarters and is supportive of her candidacy.

With tech policy an increasingly important part of the president’s job—consider merely the issues of NSA surveillance and anti-trust policy, not to mention self-driving cars and military robots—helping to elect yet another president could be incredibly valuable to Schmidt and to Google.

And Schmidt’s largesse is not something that other candidates, either rival Democrats like Bernie Sanders or the crowded field of Republicans, will be able to easily match. The billionaire Alphabet executive chairman now boasts a growing track record for funding politically-minded tech startups. The jobs these create could make it easier to attract top engineers to political work without asking them to sacrifice pay and equity for a brief campaign sabbatical.

Slaby says that Groundwork and Timshel exist in part to help talented, highly in-demand engineers work for a larger purpose without having to totally abandon their compensation expectations.

“We’ve institutionalized this idea that if people are going to work on things that are important to them, they’re going to take a big pay cut—your world class skills are worth less because you’re doing it for a good cause,” says Slaby. “At the end of the day people crave purpose. But you also want to pay your mortgage and send your kids to college. That’s an unfortunate choice we put to people a lot of the time.”

But the Groundwork’s success in 2016 will not ultimately be judged on its prospects as a startup, but whether it helps to make Clinton the 45th president of the United States of America.

“Something I always say is, ‘You get zero votes for innovation,’” Goff, Clinton’s top digital staffer, tells Quartz. “If you do something innovative that gets you votes, that’s good … If you do something innovative and it doesn’t get you votes but a VC would like it, we don’t care.”

http://qz.com/520652/groundwork-eric-schmidt-startup-working-for-hillary-clinton-campaign/

Kontribute.IT Combines Ease-of-Use with Lower Administrative Costs to Aid Fundraising Drives

Unique Features SHOULD Appeal to Non-Profits, Political Campaigns and Private Fund-Raisers.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Pensacola, FL (Oct. 06, 2015) – If you’re trying to raise money for a charity, a political campaign, or a special cause, the last thing you want to do is leave hurdles in front of potential benefactors. Kontribute.IT, a new Web-based fundraising service, simplifies the process for campaign managers as well as the donors who support them … while taking a much smaller cut of contributions than similar services.

In less than 30 minutes, anyone can visit https://kontribute.it, set up an account and get a complete campaign underway, no tech-savviness required. The user-friendly platform leads fund-raisers—whether they’re political candidates, church ministers of someone raising money for a honeymoon—through a process step-by-step process.  Simple, plain-English prompts aid the user in establishing donations amounts, tying into social media, and sending out email solicitations … among other functions. Additionally, everything about a Kontribute.IT campaign is customizable. People using the service can include logos, images and campaign messaging to make a compelling impact at the point of donor contact.

Though other online, software-as-a-service (SaaS) tools for fund-raising existed, Kontribute.IT founder Jibril Sulaiman still felt he could change how the game was being played. Having a technology background and experience as CEO of Pay Sell Systems, Inc., Sulaiman said, “We wanted to make it easy for people to support the causes they care about, so we started looking at avenues for making a contribution that other donation processing services don’t offer.”

One of the biggest differentiators of Kontribute.IT was going “old school” by allowing donors to use traditional, non-smart, telephones.  “Smartphones are great,” Sulaiman said, “but a lot of people still use regular landline telephones. We wanted to provide those potential donors with an equal chance to give.” This option, called Dial-2-Donate, allows contributors to simply dial a unique, dedicated number and hear instructions for entering donation amounts and their secure credit card information.

Other ways of receiving donations through Kontribute.IT include Text-2-Donate, an online donation form on a customized Web-page (accessible via a dedicated link shared by email), and via Facebook.

Significantly, Kontribute.IT also differs from other donation processing services  by virtue of its business model. Rather than charging users a percentage of each donation—typically about five percent—Kontribute.IT is offered for a small, monthly fee. In the case of charities that receive thousands, or even millions of dollars, the percentage-cut model sends a huge windfall into the pocket of a third-party. “That just struck me as wrong,” Sulaiman commented. He also observed that giving away money to a payment processor is even more painful for charities struggling on shoe-string budgets.

When a donation is made, the entire amount goes directly from the contributor’s financial account into the campaign’s account. None of the money stays with Kontribute.IT at any time.  Sulaiman also stressed that data security was top priority in developing the site. “We provide full SSL Security and PCI compliance for transactions—all credit card information is encrypted and safely stored with the payment processor,” he said.

 

“People who are careful with their charitable donations pay attention to how much of a nonprofit’s budget goes to administration, and how much is actually doing some good.” Sulaiman said. “After you pay our small fee ($14.99 or $24.99 a month), everything that comes in goes directly where the donor wants it to go.”

Currently anyone can set up a Kontribute.IT account for free and start an active campaign at no charge for two full weeks. “If you have a fund-raising campaign in mind, I hope you’ll give Kontribute.IT a try,” Sulaiman said. “It’s easy!”

About Kontribute.IT.

Headquartered in Pensacola, Fla., Kontribute.IT (a subsidiary of Pay Cell Systems, Inc) provides easy-to-use, customizable and highly secure platforms (phone or Internet) for nonprofits organizations and other fund-raisers to solicit, receive and manage donor contributions.  A unique, flat fee-based structure keeps nonprofit administrative costs low and helps assure more of each contributed dollar goes where the donor intended.

 

 

 

What Will the End of the Offering Plate Mean for Christian Worship?

Churches have tried all sorts of ways of raising money: membership dues, pledges, bonds, patronage, investments, bulletin advertising, fees for services, gift shops, holy day activities, cultural festivals, facility rentals, “poor boxes,” and honorary dedications. But in America, the most widely used of all the fundraising tools is the collection plate.

It was not always thus. The practice of plate-passing originated sometime early in the twentieth century, and it was a marked improvement on earlier fund-raising methods in America. Prior to that most, churches rented pews or had public subscription lists — which highlighted wealth inequality — or they used lotteries and raffles — which were later criticized as gambling. Only on rare occasions would a hat would be passed around to collect money for a specific cause. But as global mission movements rose in the late nineteenth century, more and more people requested special offerings. In time, collection plates became the most powerful fundraising tool the church had.

What happens when we stop using paper money?

Collection plate practices weren’t restricted to churches. The United Way would visit workplaces, give inspiring speeches, and then pass the plate. Most political rallies fundraised on the spot, too. The Boy Scouts went door-to-door collecting money for Troop projects. Today, you see latter-day collection plates in grocery stores that solicit small donations at checkout — a tool that netted $358 million in 2012 alone.

In recent decades, though, collection plates have become less popular. Political organizations focus on large donations from targeted donors, generating far more revenue. Boy Scouts, PTA’s, and service organizations use special events like 5k runs and products like Thin Mints and popcorn. The United Way’s workplace donations come directly out of paychecks based upon signed pledge cards, making donations consistent.

Plus, people are now more likely to be offended by the social pressure — and induced guilt — of the collection plate, as Jesse Jackson learned when he was booed after trying to take a collection while speaking in Ferguson last August.

So why, even in our era of digital banking and services like the one offered by the company that runs this site, does plate-passing still rule in churches?

It’s because the plate is not just a collection plate; it’s an offering plate. It’s an act of worship. Christians believe that when we put money in the plate, we aren’t just supporting an organization. We are giving to God.

I remember being repeatedly told in my church management class in seminary that “people don’t give to a budget, they give as a spiritual response to God’s blessings.” I’ve heard that repeated hundreds of times at all levels of church organizations. As budgets are prepared and church boards think carefully about their finances, the conversation moves easily from economics to spiritual disciplines of giving. Generations of American Christians have come to believe that placing money in the offering plate is a spiritual activity.

But what happens when we stop using paper money? That’s where our culture is headed. In the coming years, our gifts to God will no longer be placed on an altar after being ceremoniously collected; instead, they will be securely and silently transferred from one account to another. Will the symbol of the offering disappear? Will we lose an important ritual of worship — and the revenue that goes with it?

These questions highlight a theological problem with offering plates: associating the donation of money with an act of worship consecrates not just the virtue of generosity but also the money that is donated. It gives money — symbolic pieces of paper printed by the United States Treasury — a sacred status. This is something Americans don’t mind doing. It makes sense that the decades in which the acquisition of money and goods became the American Dream were the same decades in which the collection plate became an act of worship.

The problem is that money is the most secular thing of all. It is the opposite of holy. We cannot serve God and money. What belongs to Caesar (or the U.S. Treasury) does not belong to God. But we have merged them nonetheless.

The good thing about the digital revolution of financial exchange is that it offers churches an opportunity to approach money in a new way. It won’t hurt us to abandon the offering plate and try something new. We won’t even have to start from scratch — there is much to learn from the practices of synagogues, mosques, and temples, as well as branches of the Christian faith who do not indulge in passion for the almighty dollar.

Still, the end of the offering plate will not be the end of the church’s complex relationship with money.

Online giving trending at area churches

Cybergiviing

The old tradition of passing the offering plate on Sunday mornings at church has a new Millenial sibling.

Cybergiving.

Several Wiregrass churches have offered members the option of giving their tithes and offerings online for several years, and many more have recently begun offering the option.

Hays McKay, senior pastor of Covenant United Methodist Church in Dothan, said the church provides several ways to give as a response to the changing way people handle finances.

“The younger generation doesn’t carry checks, or cash for that matter. They carry a debit card,” McKay said.

Covenant provides an online portal for members to set up one-time or recurring gifts. A giving kiosk is set up in the church’s lobby. The church’s Collide service, which is held in the church’s gymnasium and generally attended by a younger crowd, has an iPad in the lobby that allows members to sign on and give. The church also allows members to give through the PayPal online money exchange service.

Other churches also allow members to use a “Text To Give” option.

Pastors and church studies indicate convenience is the main benefit to the member. Members who miss church due to travel, sickness, work or other reasons can still give their tithes and offerings on schedule by simply logging in on a computer or phone. Many eGiving platforms also allow members to designate offerings to a particular church project.

Online giving can also be beneficial for the church. Staff members or volunteers must log every donation that can be tracked back to a member for tax purposes since charitable giving is tax deductible. That can mean hours of work at larger churches where hundreds or more than a thousand individual givers contribute something each week. Online giving can allow that information to be automatically imported at the click of a mouse.

Online giving can also provide some stability to church revenue, which can often dip significantly during the summer. Churches in which a sizeable segment of the members select regular, recurring online giving, can count on a certain amount of revenue each week.

McKay said online giving has increased each year since it has been offered.

“The evidence is in the giving,” McKay said. “We are seeing more online giving in a variety of styles. It is convenient because it creates an option for giving whenever people think about it.”

McKay said the move to online giving garnered very little noticeable opposition.

“At Covenant, we have been very fortunate. I am not saying there may not have been some people who were not for it, but we took the idea to our finance committee and it was a unanimous committee vote,” McKay said.

All churches do not offer online giving. For some, the option doesn’t benefit the church if most members are accustomed to giving traditionally. Others have chosen not to include the option because most online giving platforms take a small percentage from the giving (anywhere from a fraction of one percent to around 3 percent) for the convenience.

Some Christians are opposed to online giving because they believe giving a tithe and/or offering should be considered an act of worship in a formal worship service and believe online giving removes the act of worship in giving.

Others believe online giving is theologically permissible. Jesus, in the New Testament, warned against giving in order to be noticed by people. Plopping an envelope into an offering plate as it is passed down the pew is always within view of the peering eyes of fellow members.

While online giving may be used most by Millenials, all age groups are taking advantage of the option.

Ridgecrest Baptist Church has given members an online giving option for about two years. Numbers indicate that online givers range in age from 17 to 76. Several online givers were also first-time givers.

CHURCH GIVING TOPS $50 BILLION A YEAR IN U.S.—AND ITS FUTURE IS NOT A COLLECTION PLATE

IT MAY BE MORE OF A KIOSK.

Church giving is serious business. Scores of newsletters, workshops, and books are devoted to it, and consultants exist to advise institutions on how to maximize funds. A five-year study released last year estimated that “tithers”—Christians who donate 10% or more of their income to church or charity—contribute more than $50 billion a year. (And that’s not counting the many who give a smaller percentage of their income.) There’s even crime associated with tithing: In March, Texas megachurch pastor Joel Osteen’s church was robbed of $600,000 in donations from a single weekend.

Somehow, though, the offering process, when ushers pass baskets down the rows and worshippers voluntarily drop in checks or cash, has remained basically unchanged since the 19th century. But who carries cash, let alone checks, anymore?

Luckily for churches, a wave of apps and other digital giving options have risen up to bridge the gap.

Call it the 21st-century offering plate.

“The youngest generation does everything with their debit card,” says Stu Baker, VP of sales at SecureGive, perhaps the largest company specializing in church giving technology. SecureGive, based in a suburb of Augusta, GA, offers four integrated platforms: Online giving, text giving, mobile giving, and kiosks installed in the church lobby. Most of the kiosks are simply iPads with built-in card readers, installed on stands; a donor types in her phone numbers as ID, taps “Give” (perhaps selecting a specific capital campaign or missions program), and then swipes her card. Subscribing to a software package that incorporates all four giving options costs a church $139 a month, not including set-up and equipment costs. (The iPad kiosks run between $1,500 and $1,800 each.) The company currently serves about 1,500 churches.

SecureGive

Other players in the game include Txt2Give, which focuses on text donations, andeasyTithe, which provides similar packages to SecureGive. Devon Weller, a web developer in Nashville, initially designed The Giving App, which allows churches to build a customized mobile app for donations, for his own nondenominational congregation. “Our church is big on branding, and we wanted something that looked and felt like our church,” he said. But after it launched, he started getting calls from other congregations, and now about 20 churches are clients, many of them savvy new “startup churches.”

“Churches are no different than any other operation in that they need to be relevant and convenient,” said RaeAnn Slaybaugh, editor of Church Executive magazine, who has reported on new giving options. “The difficulty is in capitalizing on a moment of generosity.”

Church giving, of course, has not been completely immune to technology: Think of the ‘80s televangelists, who may not have always been ethical but were surely innovative in their approach. This new profusion of digital options is perfecting a more more intimate kind of largesse, though: people can now act on their generous impulses whenever and wherever. Over time, Slaybaugh said, churches that don’t adapt will see their collections drop. A recent survey of Church Executive’s readership of churches with at least 1,000 weekly attendees found that 78% accept donations online and 36% by mobile, and 18% have kiosks onsite. Slaybaugh believes all those numbers are likely to rise over the next several years.

SecureGive

For churches, the benefits of digital giving are clear, including access to new donors, easier accounting procedures, and the steady cash flow of automatically recurring payments. It also allows churches to connect with a wider circle of adherents: A Christian in Seattle can listen to weekly sermon podcasts from a megachurch in Texas—and now he can easily donate from afar, too.

But churches have concerns about this new landscape, too. Baker said that in SecureGive’s early years, one of the biggest obstacles was that many potential clients were concerned about the moral and ethical dimensions of accepting donations by credit cards, which allow users to spend more than they have. The company responded by offering a setting that allows donations by debit card only. But Baker said that wariness has declined dramatically in the last several years. Where at least half of his initial conversations used to at least address concerns over credit, he said, today less than 1% of churches opt to restrict themselves to debit card donations.

Some churches also worried initially that kiosks were too large and intrusive. “In the beginning, the whole concept of putting this machine in a church, it was so foreign,” Baker said. “You had churches very sensitive to preventing the notion that a church is all about money.” Over time, that fear, too, has retreated, especially since newer iPad kiosks are significantly smaller than the older models, which looked more like ATMs.

Inevitably, the Sunday morning worship service itself will change as attendees gain access to a 24/7 online “offering basket.” But the old-fashioned basket itself is not likely to disappear anytime soon, even as it becomes something more like a symbol than a tool. Some churches now provide cards printed with the words “I gave online,” so that digital donors can still feel part of the offering moment. SecureGive lets kiosk donors print two receipts: One for their records, and one to drop in the basket.

Waller said he initially envisioned the Giving App would be used during that Sunday morning offering time, which is why he designed it to take as few clicks as possible to make a donation. But it turned out that most people prefer to log on at other times. “I don’t know if that’s just ingrained in us not to have phones out during the service,” he said. “It’s a tricky balance…to still be worshipful while pulling out our iPhones.”

An electronic offering plate? Churches join e-giving trend

It’s not usually good etiquette to fiddle with your cellphone during the church service. But if the recent trend in online giving to nonprofits extends to churches, whipping out a smartphone during the collection of tithes and offerings might become a normal Sunday morning scene.

The last two years have seen significant growth in the number of people giving to charitable organizations either online or through a mobile app. A recent study by the Nonprofit Technology Network found that nonprofits saw a 21 percent increase in online giving from the previous year, as well as a 20 percent increase in the overall number of online gifts in 2012.

But is this shift in giving methods translating to churches? Although the study did not include religious organizations, the proliferation of companies set up to help churches make that transition easily and successfully suggests that e-giving to churches may now be at a tipping point.

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Most companies offer to provide churches a “turnkey” online giving operation, fully integrated with the church website, providing a link where members can make one-time or recurring donations. Some companies offer a smartphone app that lets users make a donation, often in just a few seconds. Many claim their services will reduce a church’s financial administration burden.

To learn more, I contacted two churches with fairly young congregations, thinking they’d be on the leading edge of the shift to online and mobile giving. Only one of the two made significant use of the online option, suggesting there may be many churches that still prefer traditional giving mechanisms.

“Based on what I see each month, I would estimate that at least 60 percent and probably closer to 75 percent of our giving is through online bill pay or PayPal,” said Matthew Balogh, an elder at Aletheia Church in Tampa, Fla., a vibrant, young congregation that began as a campus ministry to the University of South Florida. With online bill pay, members can set up a recurring draft from a bank account that automatically sends a paper check to the church every month.

Balogh said his members find PayPal to be both simple to use and familiar, since it’s frequently used in many other funds transfer situations.

“PayPal takes about 3 percent of any payments or gifts, but this is a relatively small percentage for the value it provides,” Balogh said.

CrossPointe Church in Columbus, Ga., with 450 adult members, 80 percent of whom are under age 45, only receives between 20 and 25 percent of its offerings through online bill pay or the church website.

“We have never made a public push for the congregation to give in that way instead of the more traditional offering,” said senior pastor Brad Evangelista, who believes seeing the physical act of giving is a part of the worship service.

“The act of giving is part of our response to God, and that physical element being part of our service is a helpful component, even if over the years our congregation may eventually become more digital or electronic,” Evangelista said.

4 Advantages Of Offering Online Giving Options For Churches

Even if you are a small or relatively low-tech church, I believe that you should strongly consider offering online giving. The technical aspects can be worked out once you and your church leaders have come to a decision that online can giving can benefit both your church and your congregation.

1. People can give on days besides Sunday

There’s definitely power in corporate giving, just like corporate worship or prayer. Offering online giving options is not intended to take away from tithes and offerings given on Sunday morning. If a church member is not able to attend one week, or is simply motivated to give and it’s not a Sunday, then having a donation button on the church website provides an easy solution. Some people might prefer to give their tithe on payday, which likely is not a Sunday. Online giving enables these people to give right away, rather than having to wait till Sunday. This not only makes it easier for the one giving, it also gets the money to the church faster than waiting for the once-a-week donations.

2. People don’t use cash or checks as much anymore

The socio-economic and moral implications of a society that relies primarily on digital money instead of hard cash is a topic for an entirely different article. But whether we like it or not – and whether you as a pastor encourage it or not – the fact remains that fewer and fewer people use cash or checks on a regular basis. Credit cards, debit cards, electronic transfers through banking services like PayPal – this is how a lot of people handle money. Many churches do have offering envelopes with space to write credit card information, but this can be tedious. Keep your envelopes for those who use them for cash and checks during the service. But for those who want to pay electronically with just one or two clicks, an online donation capability helps them to stay connected to the idea of giving.

3. People from all over the world can give

Some churches have a national or even international reach simply because they offer the sermons online or they have a powerful presence on social media. If your church’s mission has prayer support from people all over the world, then the next step is to make it possible to receive financial support. Also, some churches have members who have moved away, whether short-term for a job or military deployment, or permanently. Even if these people regularly attend a church closer to their current location, many still love the opportunity to continue to support other churches and ministries where they once attended.

4. People are encouraged by ease and convenience

See point numbers one and two. Convenience is a major factor in many people’s decision-making process, and that includes their decisions about tithing and giving to the church. For those who are accustomed to moving money around digitally – whether it’s traditional online shopping on retail websites, or buying apps and music on their phones – they want it quick and easy. If someone is moved to give, the easier it is to do so, the more likely they will be to actually follow through on their generous impulse. Many people have the best of intentions, but there are so many factors in today’s society that can derail even the most generous person: they were late to church that day and missed the offering, they forgot the checkbook, they stopped to get gas and used up all their cash, and so on. Online giving options help to remove some of these hurdles so that people can give quickly and easily whenever they are inspired to do so.

Final thoughts

Widening your church’s giving options benefits both your organization and the people you serve. The easier it is for people to donate to your church, the more likely they will be to do so. Your church can receive donations from many different sources on a constant basis.

If you have decided to take your church to the next level with online donations, then take the time to research the various technical aspects of this, as well as budgeting for the cost. Even with an initial time and money outlay to get your website set to receive donations, the long term results will benefit your people, your mission, and your organization.

Online Giving for Churches

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On this page I am going to share with you our most current thinking on what are the best online payment services for Churches.

The criteria we used to select these payment services are:

  • Easy to setup – setup within one day, hassle free
  • No setup fees
  • No monthly fees (if possible)
  • Low transaction fees / simple billing
  • 100% cloud based – can do all signups online
  • Mainstream service that integrates with 3rd party form builders and such
  • Integrates with various WordPress plugins for flexible payment forms
  • Has an easy to use API (in case we ever need to do any custom programming with it)
So based on that criteria we have ONE service that we recommend:  Stripe (and no we do not receive any compensation from Stripe!).  Stripe is TAKING OVER as the de-facto Payment Processor on the web!  It has a ton of developer support, their API is super easy to use, their setup and payment structure are super simple, we can use them with our WordPress websites and their tech support is great!

 

Stripe Fee Information:

Fees are only applied when your organization accepts a donation.  There are no setup fees, minimum fees or monthly fees.  You can collect one time donations and/or setup recurring donations.

All organizations (whether for profit or non-profit) pay the following simple fee structure:

  • 2.9% + $.30 per transaction (exd$3.20 on a $100 donation)
  • No monthly fees
  • No failed transaction or refund fees (fees only charged on successful charges)
  • Same fees for all cards:  Amex, Discover, Mileage cards, etc…

Full detail and latest rate info for Stripe

How to Register for a Stripe Account:

  1. Click this link to go to the: “Sign Up Page“.
  2. Enter an email address and password to create the account – simplest registration form ever!
  3. Follow the instructions thereafter to setup your account.  It is super simple!  The most important thing you will need is your Bank Account Number and Routing Code to setup the link with your bank account.

Adding a Donation Form to your website

First off keep in mind that online giving is generally something we ONLY want promote to CHURCH MEMBERS or those specifically looking to give to your church online.  Do NOT show a link to your ONLINE GIVING bright and bold to the visitors of your website.  We want your website to be friendly to the visitor, so put the link to online giving down in the footer of your site along with any other links you might have there.
If you raising money for a special need (natural disaster, adding a public playground, etc) then it may be appropriate to setup a giving page specifically for this need.  Stripe will allow you to do this via setting up a special JotForm or WordPress form specifically for this need.

In terms of how to add the Stripe donation / payment form to your website (any website where you can either setup a link or embed javascript) – we often use a third party tool called JotForm to process all payments on your website.  This tool is completely free for any church who is accepting less than 10 payments per month or 1000 non-payment registration forms per month.  Once you exceed that limit, you will need to pay $9.95 per month and the limit is then raised to 1000 payment or non-payment enabled forms.  It is very easy to integrate Stripe with JotForm, inexpensive and a great way to start (FREE!)

If you have a WordPress website you can also use Gravity Forms or Ninja Forms.  They integrate with Stripe nicely!

Another tool that integrates with Stripe and looks interesting (we are testing it with a church now is Kontribute.it.  This is another free tool that makes it easy to do recurring donations.