Online giving is all the rage right now. Around every corner you turn, you’ll see a new company popping up that specializes in online giving. It seems as if everyone thinks they can make more money by offering this service to churches. In fact, it should be about ministry, not about making a little jingle-jangle.

I have a very positive view of online giving. In fact, I advocate to churches they need it, but what I don’t like to see are churches being misinformed about the service and being taken advantage of when it comes to what to pay for such a service.

That being said, I want to give you all a few pointers to help with your research in choosing the right company for your church to partner with when it comes to allowing your members the opportunity to give their tithes and offerings online.

1. Do they really offer true text giving? Make sure what you see is what you get. Several companies will say they do something, such as text giving, when in reality all they do is send your members a link to give on a mobile responsive site. That lengthens the time of the giving process. The more time it takes, the less chance you have of your members adopting that form of giving.

2. Is the pricing really as advertised? Make sure what you are being charged for is exactly what the salesperson said you would be charged each month. Several companies, especially those that look so appealing, aren’t transparent in their pricing. For example, they will tell you their monthly fees start at $19. That sounds great! However, that’s only the starting point. After you tell them how many members you have, whether you want access to their mobile giving app and the rates you want, often you’ll see the prices rise. You’ll want to look for a company that markets their service of $29 per month as being all-inclusive. Make sure they aren’t adding fees above and beyond that each month. Several do, but the ministry-minded providers don’t.

3. Resources are great educational tools. The last time you purchased a car, did the salesperson allow you to drive it off the lot without telling you about how to operate it and all the features? Of course not, and you shouldn’t buy an online giving company that doesn’t have resources you can use to educate your members about the benefits of online giving, why your church has chosen to use it, and the multiple ways they will be able give. Videos introducing the new service, sample emails from church leadership to the congregation, social media messaging, announcements from small group leaders and posters are all items you should expect from a giving company whose goal is to maximize stewardship within your church body.

4. In what ways can my members give online? Great question, and make sure it’s one you ask during the vetting process of every online giving company you are considering. Most, if not all, offer online giving via your church website. From there, the ways to give start to diminish. Mobile giving through a native app, true text giving and kiosk giving are less prominent ways for your members to give but still viable channels your congregation will use. Make sure the company you select offers all these options. Not every member will give the same way. Some will feel called to give online, while others may find giving through the mobile app convenient. Others may be reminded to give when they see a kiosk in the lobby.

5. What about payment methods? Make sure you aren’t limiting your members on how they can give their tithes and offerings. The most reputable companies will offer ACH, debit and credit. I understand if you don’t want your members to go into debt by using credit cards. My wife and I don’t use them, but make sure you don’t have to use two different companies because one doesn’t offer ACH.

6. Do you integrate with our church management system? The last thing you want is to use a giving solution that doesn’t integrate with your church’s management software. Many have file-based integrations, while others are more direct through an API. Ask the question to make sure the ChMS you are using speaks with your online giving software.

There are several solid online giving companies in the market—a crowded one—so be sure you keep an eye out for the six things listed above. EasyTithe, SimpleGive, LifeWay eGiving or twenty:28 are four I highly recommend. The price points are very affordable and transparent; they integrate well with many church management solutions, offer multiple ways for your members to give, and offer great customer support.

Being good stewards of our resources is something God has called us to do. Please do your research. Your members will thank you later.

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